It’s a ply, ply world. 2020 will be my year to be all about Ply Magazine. I was fortunate to have 2 great ideas for the Summer and the Autumn editions of Ply Magazine, and had them accepted for publication. I also applied to be a vendor at Ply Away V, and was also accepted. All of this is such a blessing and so exciting.
I have been blogging off and on for several years, but I really wanted to write an article for a spinning magazine. I really like the way Ply does it, they have a “mood board”. Each issue is based on a theme – or mood, and they ask for input from you and me as to articles that we might want to write for that theme.
I have been involved with fiber since I was a little girl. My mother taught me to knit and to sew and I was hooked for life. I have sewn three wedding dresses, my own and both of my son’s brides. I made all the baby clothes for my two boys. I have knit for everyone in the family, including myself, from socks to sweaters. At the age of 20, I saw a woman spinning wool on her Ashford spinning wheel – when I found out how LITTLE a fleece cost compared to spun yarn – hooked again! I knew I could learn to spin and it would save me a fortune in wool yarn AND it did, but I spent another fortune in spinning wheels and spinning related equipment over the years. Ah well, what does it matter??? Life is about living, and living is about being creative and feeding your soul. I have a well fed soul.
When I saw the email from Ply about their Summer edition theme on support spindles, I could not resist. 18 months before, I had begun a grand passion for support spindles, and I had one or two things to say about what I could create with them. Once I was accepted as an author for this edition, I started thinking about the fiber I would use to illustrate the content of my article. I would need fiber that was NOT easy to use to achieve the goal, some that was Good, but not perfect, and then the PERFECT fiber. I set out to find the three contestants and settled on Into the Whirled Polworth/silk, Inglenook naturally dyed batts, and Miss Babs Merino/Silk. I spun and spun, all Summer long, then wrote my article and sent it off, along with a bevy of pictures.
Then Ply sent out another Mood Board email – this time for their Fall Back To Basics edition. They included Dyeing as one of the possible themes. Woo Hoo, I like to dye and I think about how dyeing affects yarn, roving and fleece. Another article idea was born. Once again, I had to think about setting up my article with samples to illustrate my take on dyeing from a spinner’s perspective. This time it was easier to prepare the samples for the article, and for 5 days my kitchen was a dye-o-rama, but I have an understanding partner, so all was well!
Writing for Ply has been a blast and I can’t wait to buy a box of copies to share with my friends and family. Getting accepted to be a vendor at Ply Away V was icing on a very yummy cake. I am bringing all of my normal stuff; Cozy Feet Treadle covers, Stansborough Grey fiber, MANY other nice fibers – washed and ready to prep and a few special items, some woven, some sewn, some imported. It should be a really fun time and I can’t WAIT.
After a great deal of anticipation, THE DAY finally arrived. Now all I had to do was manage a 10 hour drive — piece of cake.
Got the car packed up and ready to go. Clothes, books, electronics, food, spinning supplies, toiletries, pillows, blankie — everything I needed (?) for a 3 week stay at weaving school. We averted a near disaster. Once the car was packed, (no I did NOT need a car top carrier) I went up to take a shower and get dressed. Then it was just a matter of hugs and kisses for Lou and zooming off. As we were walking down the basement stairs I noticed the WINE and the COFFEE fixin’s at the bottom of the stairs — we ALMOST forgot them! HORRORS!
I had every intention of leaving EARLY, but spend most of the night after 2 am awake, so I had to sleep past sunrise — which is really unusual for me. After walking the dogs, doing my Tai Chi, making coffee and having Lou’s most excellent Buckwheat pancakes, we checked the LIST (how did we miss the coffee and wine???) & loaded up the car WITH the wine. After giving Lou lots of hugs and kisses I was pulling out of the driveway! BTW — Lou didn’t sleep at all — guess it was the coffee at dinner, the prospect of being without his split apart for 3 weeks, and some MILD concern about my drive. Though I am independent and fiesty, I haven’t taken …. well … ANY long trips by myself! (how in the world did that happen???) And … I kept asking him “do you think I can DO this drive???” Of course, he said, “sure, no problem” SO he might have harbored a few doubts — I know I would.
The plan was to stick to the freeway and avoid the google maps suggestion of driving all over the place, on Fred’s Road or Bob’s road. I took 90 East until it ran into 91 North — easy peasy.
I’m happy to report that, uncharacteristically for Sierra and travel, all went smoothly. Whew!
I listened to music in the morning, then started in on an audio book — Dune, my all time favorite Science Fiction story — of ALL TIME. Worked great! I stopped for RR breaks and gas and just kept driving – enjoying the scenery and the story. Unfortunately, because of the late start, I totally missed the welcome dinner at the farm. I went straight to the Water Street studio, grabbed a bottle of wine, the wine key and a glass, and had a lovely time.
Home away from home!
I have had the best Summer of recent history THIS year – the Summer of 2017. This was the year I retired and turned 60. I have always worked – since I was in 7th grade. Not full time, mind you, but I always had some kind of job. My last job was as a High School computer science and math teacher. I was REALLY ready to retire.
In the first month of my last year of teaching I bought a Glimakra Standard 120 cm Vertical Countermarch loom. I knew after doing a little research that this was the loom for me. I sold a LOT of equipment to pay for it, and to pay for the Basics Class at Vavstuga Weaving School in Massachusetts. You don’t HAVE to have a Glimakra loom to benefit from this class, but if you DO have one, well ..... it’s a godsend, since all their looms are Swedish style looms. Even in January, it was too late to sign up for the Summer classes, but I asked to be put on the waiting list for any August classes that opened up. Much to my shock and surprise I was contacted in June – an opening had occurred in the July 31 – August 4 basics class – how lovely – starting on my birthday, and ending on my first born son’s birthday. Isn’t fate lovely??
If you are a weaver, if you want to be a weaver, if you have dabbled in weaving you NEED to go to Vavstuga! You will have a week long, intensive experience that will change the way you think about weaving.
Where did I put my school projects??
Basics Class at Vavstuga Weaving School
In order to take most of the classes, you have to take the Basics class, but don’t poo-poo it! I have been weaving for over 15 years (off and on) and my mind was exploding with all the great information I gleaned from this totally awesome class! There were many “aha” moments, and many more “why didn’t I think of that??” moments as well. Becky Ashenden is a great teacher -- very organized and focused, but she is also just a Hoot and TOO MUCH FUN!
We had students who had Swedish Looms, Jack Looms and even a Rigid Heddle loom! EVERYONE learned skills that they could take home and apply to their chosen weaving tool.
We wove a small wool blanket, a Cottolin/Cotton square table cloth, a Cottolin/Linen towel with a hanger band (made on the band loom) and a Linen Block Weave Sample (nice for the center of a table) on all 8 shafts.
Each of the looms was in a different state of readiness for weaving. Two looms – with cottolin/linen towels were ready to go. Two Looms – Cotton/Cottolin Table cloths needed to be threaded and tied on and have the Tie up done. The two looms with linen warp and weft were ready to be threaded, tied on, tied up as well – these were reserved for dressing the loom with a buddy! I think I’ll have my friend Shelly come and buddy warp with me from now on – it’s pretty fun. The two looms that would become the lap blanket had to be dressed from scratch, wind the warp (using a warping mill), beam it (using the trapeze method), thread it (with a buddy) Tie it on and do the Tie up (heddles/lamms/treadles). By the time you were done – you KNEW how to dress a Swedish loom!
The rest of the week was spent weaving, half of the second day through the morning of the fifth day. Most of us were finished on Thursday evening and spent the morning in our fringe twisting party on the porch.
EACH day there were also morning and afternoon classes on reading and creating pattern drafts, planning projects and analyzing weave structures from woven cloth. The days were structured and JAM packed with information. Lunch was also included in the class fee and they were wonderful! Kim is a super cook and meal planner.
We also had a traditional Swedish diner at Becky’s childhood home – the Farm house. It was a very special evening. The food was wonderful and we all had a lovely time chatting around the large dining table. Of course, everywhere you go, whether it is the water street studio or the farmhouses, there are fabulous woven household items; rugs, placemats, tablecloths, curtains, blankets, napkins, hand towels. Just hanging around either studio is inspirational. I am looking at my home AND my RV with an eye to adding hand woven items! After dinner we had a tour of the MANY looms in the house, all dressed with projects. Most of the looms at the farm house are draw looms, individual draw or shaft draw, and Becky treated us to a showing of her many finished projects – mostly done on draw looms. A life spent weaving is full of beauty.
The week SPED by -- I couldn’t believe how fast all this fun ended!
I was SO inspired by my experience that when I got home (2 weeks down time before heading off again) I dressed my loom with a project called the Country Kitchen Checked Cloth – a 40.5” (width in reed) 58” table cloth made from Cottolin (Bleached, Unbleached, Brown & Red). It has 976 ends and took me 4 days to dress the loom. I warped for 2 table cloths – and they are going to be fabulous.
ALL the pictures:
Many know me as Dakota Skipper -- that's my Cowboy alias. I LIKE to write and I like to share. Please enjoy reading about my frolicking fiber adventures!