Sunday, October 26, 2008

Drop Spindling at the Bellingham Spin-In

I have a bit of catching up to do. Last weekend we took an opportunity to have a change of scenery and went to visit young relatives in Portland, Oregon. I brought along my drop spindle and actually had a chance to zone out on a cold blustery day and spin a little. The fiber is a bit of combed silk top I had which I stuffed into the dye leftover from dyeing the sample of woven shibori. I didn't stir it or anything and so I got a lovely uneven dye which is spinning into a beautiful variegated or marled yarn.
This leads me into the Bellingham Spin-In which I attended yesterday. The featured speaker was Celia Quinn. Here is the blurb on Celia since I really couldn't state it better:
"Celia Quinn, popular spinning instructor, workshop leader and well-known contributor to
Spin Off magazine, will present a program about supported and suspended spindles.
Based on historian and author Bette Hochberg’s slide archives and lecture notes, Ms.
Quinn will share the fascinating history and provenance of spindles from around the
world. In addition to learning the history of spindles, spindle use and techniques will be
discussed and demonstrated."
Her program on drop, or suspended, and supported spindles and distaffs was very interesting. I haven't had much opportunity to attend programs on drop spindling. Like the rest of my spinning and weaving, I taught myself how to use the drop spindle. I enjoy using it, in fact I have three spindles, but must admit that spinning with a wheel goes much faster. Below is a quick picture I took of a few of the spindles and distaffs that Celia brought to share and demonstrate. I quick note here, my spindle pictured above is a Bosworth spindle made from an exotic South African wood. I bought it at the Whidbey Spin-In and detailed that in an earlier post. It is lovely to spin with and it just hums.
The Bellingham Spin-In is fairly new. This was their second year. I will say here that they did an excellent job. The venue is comfortable and the programs have been excellent so far. It would be wonderful to see more people there though. I also won a nice doorprize of a hank of painted wool roving. I will have more on that in a future post. The Spin-In is put on by the Spin Drifters, a fiber group that belongs to NWRSA, which stands for the Northwest Regional Spinners Association. Click on the blue letters if you wish to find out more.
In addition to the spindles, distaffs, and excellent slide show, Celia brought a few textiles she has made using a spindle. To say they were stunning is an understatement.

The picture on the left is a detail of a camisole that was constructed using fine silk singles and filet crochet. It was very fine and soft, like cobwebs.
What I mainly took away from Celia's presentation is the idea of using a hand-held distaff with my drop spindle. At this time I usually wrap the fiber around my wrist. Convenient, until it falls off and gets twisted up with my drop spindle! I got a few ideas for constructing my own distaff. I also was impressed anew with our ancestresses who constantly spun with their spindles out of a grueling need to clothe themselves and their families.
With perhaps a few exceptions in certain parts of the world, we no longer have that need so spindling is done for our own enjoyment. The reminder that Celia gave to us makes me look at my drop spindle with new respect and gratitude. Such a humble tool spanning from a simple rock and stick to spindles made of glass and precious metals and stones. Such a powerful tool, one of the reasons why we no longer wear animal skins for clothing and I am able to blog on this computer (it is all connected you know!).
If you have a drop, suspended, or supported spindle tucked away in a drawer somewhere, pull it out again and give it a whirl. If you have never spun on one and are interested, find a local spinning and weaving guild or group and find someone who will teach you. It is an awesome way to connect to our past.
Off to spin a bit more, -Renee

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Woven Shibori Fabric-Final

Last post I put up a picture of a view of where we live. We hiked back up there to take these pictures. First, let me explain where these are taken. Many folks have heard of the glass artist Dale Chihuly. He co-founded the Pilchuck Glass School which is located a few miles from us in the midst of the Pilchuck tree farm. The glass school built a monument on one of the hills above the school and this is where we often hike to. There are polished stone seats looking out at the view that I took the picture of in the previous post.
I thought it would make a lovely backdrop for the fabric. The weather turned on us on the hike up becoming cold and cloudy. So, here is the fabric! Instead of immersing the fabric in one solid dye as I did the sample, I decided to paint, or in this case squirt, the dye on. I must confess I forgot to add the vinegar so I ended up spraying on vinegar after I squirted the dye on. I wasn't sure it would work.

I then rolled the dyed fabric up in plastic wrap and steamed it. To my great relief, it worked! I dyed the gathered fabric first in black. I then opened up the fabric and then proceded with the dyeing as mentioned above. I used three colors in the second round of dyeing, blue, yellow, and a warm red. I knew I wanted greens and purples and that played a key role in my color choice.
I am working on this post from a cafe and realized I forgot to pack the statistics on the cloth. I will have to edit this post when I get a chance. I will put the final width and length in this spot.

I am including a close up of the fabric here as well as the texture and play of color is interesting.
As I mentioned before, this is the last batch of weaving that will be coming off my AVL loom for a while. I really enjoyed the woven shibori and it is something that I plan to come back to. In the meantime, I am going to work on tapestry weaving and spinning. I haven't decided what to use the shibori fabric for but I have a few ideas. I plan to attend the Skagit Valley Weavers guild meeting tomorrow evening and should have something interesting to post from that.
Hope everyone is settling into the fall weather and getting the fiber out to work on. -Renee

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Blogs to Enjoy

While I am waiting to do the final finishing on my woven shibori fabric, I thought I would take the opportunity to mention a few blogs that I enjoy visiting when I have the chance. The first one is Peg in South Carolina's blog. Peg often leaves comments. I love to check out what other weavers in different parts of the country and world are doing. We all have different influences and points of view shaped in part by where we live. Peg's blog is She likes to weave crackle and creates lovely fabrics.
The second blog of note is by Karen Madigan in Australia. Her blog has tutorials, video, and a tremendous amount of information. I find her site very inspiring not only for weaving and textile information but on blogging about it all too. Check out her site at
I recently found a delightful blog by a male weaver to provide another perspective. Check out Larry's blog at
The final weaving blog for this post is Linda's Fiber Weblog at Not only is Linda a weaver and fiber artist, but she teaches too. Her blog has a lot of interesting technical information.
My final overall link is not a weaving blog or website. It is not my intent to post my political views on this blog although a few links creep in on my personal link list. I feel at the moment that this one is important for all of us U.S. voting citizens. This website is non-partisan. It is an independent site that checks the truth or untruths behind the presidential candidate's campaigns. You can find the site at www.
I will have the shibori fabric posted soon. It has been dyed and awaits a final press and photos. It was tremedously fun to weave.
I am adding this picture after my initial post. This is a view of where we live. In fact, if you know where to look, you can see my neighborhood. We have been hiking and mountain biking in the hills behind our house several times a week. This was a bit of a moody day and you can't see the Olympic Mountains. You can see the Skagit river delta, Puget Sound, and the San Juan Islands. The picture doesn't do this breathtakingly beautiful area justice. I don't like posting without a picture so I decided to add this one. Enjoy!

I'll be back soon! -Renee