Thursday, January 7, 2010

Whorled News, January 2010

The January 9th meeting will be at Sky Peaks. This is the postponed December Christmas meeting so bring white elephant items. Items for sale will also be available by guild members. Even though this meeting is on an odd month, since it's the Christmas Party, it is potluck.

Driving Directions: Sky Peaks in Northwest Reno. A map is available here. You can access it from 4th street a little west of Truckee River Nursery or from a road you can enter on McCarran going south turning to the right like you wanted to reach Home Depot. At that stop sign, turn right, keep going for awhile through a light and go another few blocks and Sky Peaks is on the left. The community room is on the back or NW side.

The February 13th meeting is at the Bartley Ranch School House. This meeting is also potluck. A Learning Tree follows the meeting on the subject of Fiber Preparation.

Driving Directions: Drive .8 mile west from the intersection of McCarran Blvd and Hwy 395. Turn left (south) on Lakeside Drive and continue .4 mile. Bartley Ranch is at the north base of Windy Hill. Turn left on Bartley Ranch Road and continue several hundred feet to the main parking lot. Cross the covered bridge and turn right into the parking lot for the School House.

Dues are due. They are $25.00 per year. Membership runs from January to December. Send dues to: Doris Woloszyn at P.O. Box 229 Chilcoot, CA 96105, and make checks payable to Carson Sierra Spinners & Weavers.
Road to New Mexico Trip-tique, by Connie Vann

Recently, my husband and I took a road trip to Ruidoso, New Mexico, hoping to take 21 days in-full. This is a view of the trip with a “fiber-related slant.”

First stop was Ely, Nevada – Motel 6. This motel accepts dogs, and we fully intended to take our dog, Frankie-Sue. Who is to say that “the loneliest highway” is not the best highway. Who needs all that freeway traffic anyway?!? We headed into Utah and drove through beautiful Cedar Breaks, just outside of Cedar City. Red rocks started to appear, and the stratified canyons were fringed with tall pine and white birch trees. On the way south, we stopped in Glendale, Utah, where I spied Apple Valley Artists’ Coop on the side of the road. The place contained many quilted, knitted, crocheted and woven items. They had some knee-length womens vests with a quilted yoke over a handwoven bodice. Behind the Coop were two healthy-looking Vicunas, enjoying the afternoon breezes. Yes, Vicunas!

Once over the Arizona border, we stopped for the night in Page, Arizona. Page is a town located next to Lake Powell, which runs through a gorgeous red rock canyon that has many fingers. We stopped in Cameron, Arizona and looked through the most extensive and high-quality Indian Art collection I had seen thus far. There were Lakota Sioux wedding baskets made of willow, Hopi utility baskets made of willow and yucca, Navajo rugs and blankets – some vintage and spotless. The jewelry, beadwork, and pottery were exquisite. Contrast this with the female stray dog who tried to climb into our car with us.

Before stopping for dinner in Flagstaff the next evening, we toured the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It truly exceeded my expectations, though the postcards do represent it well. It is so vast, and so deep. Next morning, we hiked .9 mile downward got right next to cliff dwellings notched into secluded Walnut Canyon that the Sinagua Indians lived in around 1100. Of course, we had to hike .9 mile all the way back up to the top. Phew! Marked along the trail were all the plants they used. They spun banana yucca into cloth on hand-carved drop spindles and looms made from white oak and mountain Manzanita.

We pushed hard on the freeway and made it to Albuquerque the next night, again sleeping next to the freeway. But, we stuffed ourselves with Mexican food and slept as soon as our heads hit the pillow. The next day, we dawdled in Albuquerque, visiting a music store, and getting lost at the Museum of Natural Science. The Museum was designed for “children of all ages,” and contained many interactive exhibits, which we “adults” couldn’t tear ourselves away from. Ha! Finally, at 2:30 pm, we headed for our final destination – Ruidoso, once again exiting the monotonous freeway.

While staying in Ruidoso, I found The Royal Fiber Spinnery, a mill for processing alpaca, owned by Rod & Marilyn Dakan, on 815 Gavilon Canyon RD. The owners were happy to give us a tour, and allowed us to take pictures. They retail skeins of 2-ply alpaca in varying weights, and supply 140+ yarn shops. Rod and his sister own a flock of 70 alpaca, which supply the mill with much of the fiber they use. However, they do process for private spinners and growers. In the back, Rod showed me the washing machine first, and explained how extremely dirt-filled alpaca fiber can get. They wash at least 3 times, and more, if necessary. The machine uses hot water, detergent, and spinning only (no agitation). Next, the fiber goes into a drying room, and stays there until the moisture content reaches 30%.

They had two carding machines, and Rod is able to set the grade on each one. After the fiber is carded, it emerges from the machine in a narrow batt. The next machine combines two such batts and makes them one. Then, three batts are combined into one. The reason for this is to control the “thick and thin” problem, and is the best method for achieving an even batt. The batts are taken to the spinning machine, where calibration is set for the desired weight and twist-per-inch. Several cones of singles are spun at once. The plying machine makes the end product, which is then skeined into two-yard skeins.

Marilyn Dakan was hand-painting two of these large skeins on a metal table, using acid dyes, and a turkey baster. She seemed to know exactly how much dye to put where, and patted it down until the dye had saturated the yarns. One dozen skeins were then cooked in a large cookpot at 220 degrees until the dye was set, and the skeins were hung on a rack to air-dry. Once dry, Rod wound one-yard skeins on a hand-winder contraption, and this made the color variegation seem “mixed” to the eye.

Finally, a logo paper band was affixed around the skeins, so they could be hung on hooks for selling. Naturally, I bought four skeins of DK weight, because I “have the disease.” Their phone is 575-258-YARN, or Cell 575-937-1530.

Ruidoso is a mountain ski village. Sort of like Lake Tahoe without the lake. We drove 12 miles up the steepest, windiest road EVER to the Apache Ski Resort, owned by the Mescalero Apache Indians. As I am writing this, there are two cats trying to stalk a double herd of elk and white-tailed deer just outside our door. The elk and deer are calmly grazing, as if the brazen little cats are nothing but regular sport.

In about five days, we will start the return trip, doubling back through Tucson, Arizona. So, I will close this installment, and see you all at the Christmas Party.

Transferring Singles, by Heidi Erickson

To answer Amy’s question of why do I transfer my singles before I ply. I transfer my singles onto other bobbins before I ply for several reasons.

First I have the luxury of having another wheel that is great for plying, my Majacraft Rose. It is all set up for both winding into Majacraft bobbins which are larger than most, 6oz easy and I have the larger plying head and flyer, about 8 oz plus. That way I can make longer skeins of yarn without knots.

Second, Stephanie G recommends that you put as much distance between your bobbins and the plying wheel as possible when plying. The reason for doing this is to let the twist equal it’s self in the single out over the distance. I take this one step further and do this when I transfer my singles. I put the spinning singles at one of the room and my bobbin winding at the other in so that’s there’s a distance of 6 to 8 feet in between.

Also when I transfer the singles from the spinning bobbins to the plying bobbins I am able to smooth out the take up. On a wheel that has hooks the take up can be bumpy because the single winds on in the area directly under the hook first. You will always end up with more yarn there then in the spaces between the hooks.

Musings from Sage Creek by Sharon Campbell

Four years ago I was barely aware of blogs, just that Sara Lamb, a nationally known fiber artist, had one, and I knew this because I had been reading it. I attended a Nevada Library Association conference session in the fall of 2005 called “Blickis, Wikis and Blogs.” I still don’t know what a blicki is, but I have a link to Wikipedia on my home page and have been a blogger myself since the spring of 2006.

A blog is simply short for web log and is a form of an online diary. The speaker named several platforms that were free, and I chose Blogger, a Google product. If you see a URL with at the end, it’s a Blogger blog. He also recommended that when you create one, you decide what your focus will be and how often you will post. Blogs become a form of networking, and other bloggers will get a sense of how often to check in on you to see if you’ve posted. I thought a lot about the kind of bloggers I wanted to meet and share information with, and I finally decided that my theme would be “the chronicles of a book-loving fiber junkie.”
My first post was simply a photo of six hats that I knitted from handspun yarns. I couldn’t figure out how to add words, but Amy took mercy on me and spent several hours, helping me understand how to navigate my site and make changes in my template. In the beginning you needed to know some html to manage your page. That is no longer the case. Blogger has tricked up their templates since I started, becoming a matter of point and in click in most cases. I find that inserting photos and text requires some manipulation, as hyphenation still is done manually. New apps have appeared as well and one can easily get sucked into overloading the page with information, obfuscating the reason one began blogging in the first place.

I have added some third-party apps like The Library Thing - a catalog of books I’ve read and enjoyed, and a widget from NeoWork that counts the countries of people who stop by my blog. That probably amuses me most of my widgets. (A widget is a place holder; it holds the data, for the application that I want to add.) As of this date, people from 44 countries have paid me a visit, the last country being Serbia. I don’t know about you, but what the heck in the world?? If anything exemplifies globalization, that has to be it! I look at the scrolling list of counties and wonder at the string of events that caused them to visit me.

Now that I’ve explained that a blog is, let me tell you about what it does for me. I’ve struggled to become a better weaver but weaving isn’t very portable. I have essentially been limited to learning from books. However, as I’ve met more and more weaving bloggers, I have had an opportunity to see their projects, understand their process and learn some tricks. Last year when I struggled to learn a new technique, a weaver in Ashland, Oregon mailed me an instructional DVD to use until I got the hang of it.

Just last month I decided I wanted to weave a rag rug. I read six articles on how to prepare the warp (the threads that go from top to bottom) but I could find nothing on how to prepare the weft, i.e., the rags. A studio weaver in New York read my blog and came to my rescue, emailing me her phone number and told me to call her. Actually, since she has free long distance, she called me, and in spite of needing to get ready for a family dinner, spent a half hour on the phone with me, answering all my questions and telling me answers to questions I didn’t know I had.

Blogs have become invaluable to me, especially with the isolation in Red Rock Valley. In addition to hobbyists, equestrians, shepherds, and cooks, many are political in nature. You may be reading a blog and not even realize it. You may have a blog in you, just waiting in the wings for the right moment. It’s a new year, you know.

Guild Question: This is the time of year when we take stock and begin to think of New Year’s Resolutions, things that we’d like to challenge ourselves with in the next year. Instead, I’d like you to think back over this past year. What was the thing you made in 2009 that you were most satisfied with? It doesn’t have to be something that you think was the coolest or the best thing you ever did – maybe the challenge that took you out of our comfort zone and stretched you.

Sharie Jones: I have to say being a new member of the guild in September,I have a few items that I'm sure I'll always remember. The first was joining the guild and meeting all the great Fiber Artist I've met so far, next was finding my spinning wheel and learning how to spin my own fibers, and yet another was learning how to knit. My knitting isn't that great yet but I'm sure with some more practice it will come along. With all these fun things that I've learned in the past few months I do have something special I've made that all of you have seen pieces of at the past few meetings I've been able to attend. And that's my very first hand spun knitted sweater spun from Merino and Corridale Wool. I'ts not exactly perfect but it was a challenge and there are a few things I would have done differently but I will cherish this sweater forever and ever only because it was my first. Who knows maybe It will be handed down from generation to generation untill it falls apart.

Becky Pennington: I'd have to say the scarf, the white one made from 3 ply lace weight merino that I entered in the fair. I actually think it might be the nicest scarf I've made, it is even in width, very nice length and the yarn was probably my best too!

Mary B.: I don’t like to sew knitted pieces together. I prefer to make sweaters in the top down manner. Since I don’t have an average body, and not anyone I can really easily get to work with me to see if the top down garment top has reached the proper size to start the body, the sweaters I usually knit for myself turn out much too large.

This year I lost most of the sweaters I had knit to the dreaded moth invasion we all fight. This year, the moths won. Now I am winning so I am knitting more sweaters. I decided to use my favorite fitting thermal top to use a measuring model. It worked! I measured what would be the diagonal, and the body circumference as well as the upper sleeve circumference. These I considered the key measurements for me.

I knit this sweater out of what would compare with Brown Sheep Lamb’s price (not bulky) without the mohair. It is very close to what I want, but still about three inches more than I want in the body. Very much better than the ones I had to full/felt in order to get them small enough to wear.

Yesterday I began my next swatch. I learned from Medrith Glover of the Wool Room in Quincy that to be accurate in gauge, I needed to knit a LARGER swatch than I was typically making and to measure several places on the swatch. My swatches are now about 6 long x12 inches wide. My gauge is now much more accurate.

I can’t wait to see how this one will turn out, and I have three more in line for knitting. With my luck I will find a job you know where, that will not be cold enough to wear all these sweaters most of the year.

Sharon: I was taken by the gauntlets that Nancy Pryor brought for a show-and-tell last summer. With nothing more than a mental picture, I bought a skein of Noro sock yarn and began knitting, inserting bobbles and colors from stash sock yarn. I had a blast and my daughter was thrilled to receive them. This was the first time I had knitted fingers, even though they were short fingers. The second one wasn't nearly as fun as the first.

Online Resources:

Weavolution: This site started June 2009, as a gathering place for handweavers. It is the online international handweaving community where you can connect with others who share your passion for the craft. It’s free, it’s fun and it’s available 24/7.

We are sending out a monthly mailing list, with special offers and up dates on our new products. We would like to invite you to visit our site and take a look around. If you like what you see, please sign up for our mailing list by responding to this email or entering your email address at the bottom right-hand corner of our home page.

Spindlicity was relaunched October 1st as a new and improved online magazine for handspinners – patterns, reviews, books and more. They have an in depth array of articles on a particular fiber, and lots of articles by both new and familiar faces around the Spindlicity water cooler. Most exciting is the new Spindlicity staff - two new members of the Spindlicity staff who each bring a world of expertise and enthusiasm.

Knotions Magazine: Knit Smarter. In addition to patterns, you can find reviews of books as well as knitting needles and techniques. Heidi says - Knotions first issue has two interesting articles, Discovering the fit and Fashion of Knitted Pants and Color Trends for Fall ’08 both of which I found interesting. Along with twelve patterns it is a very clean site and easy to use and read. There are also techniques and reviews. All in all a good new resource for us all.

Twist Collective: Heidi says Twisted Collective first issue the first thing you will notice is the format is different that most sites. It works more like a regular magazine, with arrows on each side. One can page through the e-zine

Weavezine: -Learn how to weave. Whether you've been weaving for thirty years or thirty minutes, we're here to help you learn more about this exciting craft. This site is unique for it's recorded interviews with seasoned weavers. A memorium appears in this issue to Russel Groff, of the Robin and Russ store in Oregon, who just died January 3rd.

CLASSIFIED ADS: Ads run six months unless otherwise requested

Instructions: Learn to spin! Private and semi-private lessons available in Reno and can be arranged at a convenient time for you. Lessons are 2 hours long and include fiber. Spinning wheel rental is also offered for those students completing a lesson. Contact Allison Judge,

Loom for Sale: For Sale like new, Kromski Rigid Heddle Loom 24 inches $200.00 firm. Call Vivian Olds, 575-5516 (7/09)

Loom for Sale: 8 Harness Gilmore 42" Loom. Includes Bench, Removable top tray, shuttles, raddle & clamp and 12 yard warping board. I purchased this loom new, a few years ago from Gilmore. It is beautiful and in excellent condition. Original cost was $2187.00 not including the bench and other accessories. Need to sell, will consider all reasonable offers. You can reach me via Email. Nancy Donohue (7/09)

Spinning Wheel: Ashford Traditional spinning wheel for sale. Spins perfectly. Single treadle, single drive, scotch tension. $250. Contact Allison Judge,

Wheel and Loom for Sale: Single treadle Ashford Traditional with Jumbo flyer, $250. Eight-harness Gilmore floor loom with extras, like premeasured warps and plenty of shuttles, $450. Contact Gina Caudillo