Who knew?

So the Super Bowl is playing on the downstairs TV, and there are a bunch of 20 somethings watching intently, lots of beer and wings and dips, and I’m happily sitting in my studio with my wine, doing what entertains me.  The whole weekend as a matter of fact, has been rather low keyed, and I kind of took a break from my to do list.

Friday I did spend the afternoon adding a page to my sister’s website.  If you were following this blog back in 2009, you might remember I built a website for my sister the architect.  It has been quite successful for her, and I’m thrilled I was able to get her vision up on the screen.  And every six months or so, she sends me the images, text, and blueprints for another project to add to her growing list of successful adventures.  She has a whole section on her site on Historic Structures, homes and buildings she has brought back to life, and this latest project that I spent the day Friday adding to her site, was a huge undertaking, the 1860 Proctor House, listed on the National Registry, with cooperation from the Maryland Historical Trust.  Anyway, as I assembled the Before/After photos for her webpage, I was blown away by the transformation.  I turn thread into something wonderful, but she can take a blighted falling down waste of a building and make it into something that just blows me out of the water.  Take a look… http://www.ebelingnoe.com/proctor.html

Friday night was sort of special.  We all met at a local bar, around 11:00pm, and waited until Midnight, much like one does New Year’s Eve, for the magic hour when my son turned 21, and could take his first “legal” drink.  I won’t elaborate here, just to say that a great time was had by all, everyone lived through the experience, and the cops only came to the house twice over the course of the night…  (in all fairness, it was because there were too many cars parked on the too narrow icy street, and emergency vehicles couldn’t get through…)  but he is now legal, and Saturday morning was pretty painful…  I think it was the Prairie Fire shot?  Something about Tequila and Tabasco…

My husband and daughter are in Maine at the moment, they will be looking at University of Maine Honors Program there for an open house tomorrow.  University of Maine was one of the six colleges that have accepted my daughter so far, for their animal science program.  I’m glad my husband could get home from Saudi and take her on this adventure, he so wanted to be involved in the college process.

So that leaves me.  Alone…  🙂

So what did I do with my weekend?

I did make a self fabric belt for the wool plaid dress.  And I did about 18″ of trim for the newest project, I blogged about that in my last post.  And then, I curled up in front of my computer and watched a download that I bought a couple weeks ago from Interweave Press, when they had their warehouse sale on all their books.  I bought Rita Buchanan’s How I Spin.  I was able to download the video, and then watch it on my computer.

Sidebar.  First of all, Rita Buchanan is one of my most favorite people.  Gentle of soul, I remember taking a workshop with her on drop spindle spinning, which I already knew how to do, but wanted to watch her teach.  She is really an amazing teacher, fiber artist, creative spirit, and I just wanted to hear what she had to say.  The fact that I will be teaching spinning at the college on Tuesday night also prompted me to make the effort this weekend to spend some time with Rita.  And I also think it is important for all of us, who make our living teaching, to watch the new media being produced, because this is the way of the future, there is nothing like the printed word, but there is also nothing like a video for explaining exactly how to do a technique.

Much of what Rita taught I already knew and understood, but it was so good to hear it articulated by someone passionate and knowledgeable.  Rita’s philosophy on changing the size of the yarn is to just draft more or draft less, simple as that.  And I watched her make a number of samples of yarn of different grist by doing just that, without changing any settings on the spinning wheel.  I enjoyed watching the DVD until I got to the end, when she got to the part about preparing the fibers for spinning.  I’m not sure why that part was left to the end.  I almost didn’t watch the end, because I thought it would be more of the same philosophy and I was getting itchy to do something else.  Rita started the wool prep session with a number of dog grooming tools.  Huh?

I sat up and paid close attention to how she combed the wool.  Where were the carders?  They weren’t even on the table…

Then Rita brought out of traditional pair of wool carders and I relaxed a bit.  Until she said, ” These carders, nobody really uses them anymore…”  Huh?  Where have I been for the last 20 years?  I learned to spin in 1974, in college, and I bought my first and only wheel, an Ashford kit from New Zealand, and patiently waited for three months for it to be shipped over by boat.  It cost me $35. and there were 10 of us from the Fibers Class that all got together to order in bulk.  I assembled my wheel and it has been my spinning buddy since I was 19 years old.  This is a basic wheel, Scotch brake, no whorl diameter adjustments for the drive band, just basic spinning wheel.  I mostly used the wheel for demos, and over the years, I kept it going, and it happily sits in my bedroom.  I also have my first set of carders.  Others have been added, not exactly sure from where, but I have my first set, and whenever I demo, I bring them out.  I never knew there was any other way to get wool from the back of the sheep to the spinning wheel.

Rita showed English wool combs, and a drum carder, and I will say, I learned a lot from that little piece of the video tucked in at the end.  I felt like it was well worth the inexpensive download price, and I have something new to bring to the table when I go to teach my class Tuesday night.  And I went in search of the dog grooming tools in our house…

When my mother in law died in 2006, she left me her spinning wheel, carders, and all sorts of fleece and spinning fibers, and I just absorbed it all into my studio.  Most of the fleece was Romney, and I felted it all into a jacket just to use it up.  Her spinning wheel was a handmade wheel from Wes Blackburn in Canada, where she learned to spin.  It is an upright wheel, with the flyer on top, and a double drive band.  The wheel always intimidated me, since I was use to the Ashford, and I never quite knew what to do with the double drive band.  Last fall, on my trip to Boulder, I picked up a DVD by Judith McKenzie called Popular Wheel Mechanics.  I’ve never taken a workshop with Judith, but I understand from everyone who has ever mentioned her name that it is always reverential and that she is one of the goddesses of fiber world.

So today, probably inspired by what I learned from Rita’s video, I sat down in my bedroom with the DVD in the machine, and the Wes Blackburn Wheel in front of me, and I started to watch Judith’s video.  Like Rita’s most of the information was familiar, and interesting, and unlike Rita, Judith’s DVD focused more on wheel mechanics.  She had a number of wheels, all of them full of bells and whistles, and way more capabilities than my little Ashford.  It was interesting to watch Judith produce the same group of different grist yarns, slowly adding them across her thigh for comparison, but in Judith’s case, she adjusted her wheel tension ever so slightly for each change in yarn diameter, never changing the amount she drafted in.  All the while as I watched, I played with my double drive band Blackburn wheel, and slowly began to understand what was happening with the wheel.  But the time I got to almost the end of the second DVD in the set, I was humming along on it and had filled half a bobbin with a dyed wool from Spinner’s Hill.  I like this little wheel.

The last part of Judith’s DVD was on wheel maintenance.  I had only intended to give it half an ear, I know how to oil a wheel.  Sort of like a sewing machine.  But I sat up abruptly when the first thing she talked about was changing the drive band.  Often.  Like every couple of months?  Huh?  I looked at my poor Ashford, and I honestly don’t think I’ve ever changed the drive band…  Oops…

So I watched her cut the old one off, make a new one from Seine twine, and stitch it together to make it run smooth through the grooves.  No knot?  Who knew…

I watched her oil the wheel.  And then nearly fell off the spinning chair when she said to oil it every time you sit at the wheel.  Who knew…

So I am sufficiently humbled realizing how much I needed to learn about the most basic things.  There was a lot I did know, but somehow I missed that part in both videos that will help me be a better spinner and a better teacher.  I feel like one of my students who can’t remember when the last time they changed the needle in the sewing machine.  You mean you have to change the needle even before it breaks?  Who knew…

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February 7, 2011 8:09 am

love the new belt. it looks great. HA I am with you. I don’t think I ever changed my belt on my wheel and oil it every time I sit down to spin. I am lucky if I remember to oil it once a month. Yikes.

February 7, 2011 8:22 am

I’m so glad you are spinning happily on this new wheel! I have been thinking you just needed to sit down and play with it, but watching those DVDs was a great idea. I find that there are often contradictions between different teachers, but I pick and choose what makes sense to me and what works for me, especially for spinning. There are so many different fibers and different wheels, but spinning is basically the same for all. I have been spinning a lot this week and yesterday I did some dyeing. Yum. I am going to weave some handspun… Read more »

Melissa Burton
Melissa Burton
February 7, 2011 9:28 am

I love your blog! I open it eagerly waiting to hear what is new at your house! Although I am no where near as productive as you are, your mix of ice dams, snow, fiber fun, dyeing, young adult kid’s adventures and work mirrors my own life. I never fail to smile or laugh at part of your blog and it encourages me to keep learning and embracing my 50″s. I did have to get another heating pad because ours had moved to my space for dyeing and we needed another for post shoveling here in Boston….. 🙂 I love… Read more »

February 7, 2011 9:41 am

Historically speaking….combing WAY predates carding.

The belt looks great!

February 7, 2011 11:04 am

I am green with envy at the accuracy and shape of your seam lines. Your dress is beautiful. And inspiational. Definately one to put away in my imaginary resource drawer. Thanks for the picture

Elizabeth Eddy
Elizabeth Eddy
February 7, 2011 12:18 pm

Thanks MUCH for sharing about the learning process. Maybe I’m a professional “learner”, and this shows me a couple of DVDs to turn to. Ditto on carders, and on oiling (and on changing the sewing machine needle)! I’m wondering whether a “drop spinning” tutorial is available, AND worthwhile – since wheel spinning is more than I need, for tapestry as I am conceiving it.

February 7, 2011 1:35 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with the two videos. I have the videos you watched and, living on the west coast, have taken numerous classes from Judith. Love both the videos and the differences in philosophy and styles of both women. But, Rita’s remark that no one uses hand cards is just not true. In fact, if it were true then there would be no market for hand cards anymore. I use my hand cards quite a bit in fact. That said, I do agree with her about using dog combs and flicking locks to spin instead… Read more »

Jennifer Hill
Jennifer Hill
February 7, 2011 5:24 pm

DAMN. Now I *have* to buy those DVDs. Oh, wait. Must.Sell.E-spinner.First! I have one of those early Ashford Traditionals, or I should say, I have one of those flyers… sitting on a much more modern wheel. I picked it up for $50, so I can’t complain. It is a loaner. Recently, an OLD (100 yrs) wheel took up residence here; I had to learn about double drive bands after living with stretchy bands, my whole spinning life. I love it. Yay for legal drinking. When I went into the USAF (1973), it was thought that you could drink if you… Read more »

February 7, 2011 6:50 pm

Anyone who has any interest in hand spindling OWES it to themselves to view the “Spindles Around The World” DVD by Barbara Chlorite-Ventura……you will not believe what you will learn.

Janice Zindel
February 7, 2011 7:26 pm

Living in the woods and being on dialup, I had to get Rita Buchanan’s DVD’s, and they are wonderful, as are the next set, “Simple Cloth.” I’m afraid I’m a handcarder, too, though I do have an old drum carder. I’ve found my handcarded wool to make better yarn than wool run through the drumcarder. My best spinning is also on my double drive band wheel. Perhaps it’s just what we get used to? I have an old spinning wheel in my bedroom, which still has a bit of handspun linen on the bobbin. The wheel came from my late… Read more »

February 7, 2011 8:01 pm

I still handcard too, but only if the fibers are 2 1/2 inches or less in staple length and I want to make a woolen yarn. If the staple is longer than that, I can’t get the rolags to draft properly. I drumcard a lot, I comb sometimes with English combs or Russian paddle combs, but a lot of the time I flick each lock with a flicker because I like to space dye fleeces, and this keeps the colors separate. My two cents on fiber prep…

February 7, 2011 11:38 pm

Love the belt…perfect for the dress. And now I will have to get the wheel out and try to learn to spin, again. Thanks for the inspiration

February 8, 2011 7:44 am

You absolutely must watch Judith’s video “Spinner’s Toolbox”. I have all of the one’s she’s done for IP and for me that is the absolute best one…hands down.

Michael Kelley Dean
Michael Kelley Dean
February 8, 2011 10:49 am

Daryl, according to family stories ( from Margaret and confirmed by mommy), the first girl to learn to spin was to receive Christina Elizabeth’s spinning wheel, so I guess Margaret, as the eldest, learned first from Stina Lisa (Kevin’s and my great-grandmother). She probably took a refresher course in Canada after all those years, and since mommy had the wheel at that point. Kind of interesting to include all those bits and pieces. You were certainly the perfect daughter-in-law or, as my mother-in-law used to say, daughter-in-love, for Margaret. You shared so many of her interests and talents. Helps to… Read more »

Michael Kelley Dean
Michael Kelley Dean
February 8, 2011 10:51 am

Loved Marta’s website!! Can’t wait for Bethany to see it!

Mom with Love Always
Mom with Love Always
February 8, 2011 4:05 pm

Wow! Love the belt! Also, hard to vision what took place in BelAir with Marta’s latest work. Visited last week and saw loads of photos of the before and after. Both you and your sister blow me away with your talents. God bless.

February 14, 2017 9:26 am

Llamas can be found in mountainous areas of several South
American nations: Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, and Argentina.

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