Posts tagged ‘teaching’

Not surprisingly, packing up and moving has gotten in the way of updating the website. We’re moving up in the world, to the first floor! The annual gift-a-thon means just as we are attempting to clean up, people keep sending us new stuff. Most of it is useful, at least.

All the textile things are packed up. So now a friend is asking me to teach her how to spin. I actually have some time this week because, of course, no real estate transaction can happen on time. Ours is being held up by a city inspection of the back deck, leaving three households standing around waiting. (One of my neighbors was supposed to have a new washer and dryer delivered last week.) At least my friend has a spindle and some fiber so that may still be ok, but I’ve reached the point where I’m unpacking stuff just to be able to get by until we actually move. Without an actual date in sight, I can’t even prepare. The website will certainly be down for a time because it takes weeks to set up new service.

If only I had something interesting textile to talk about.

MaryJo Lanik, of the Van Wyck Homestead Handspinners and Weavers in Fishkill, NY, sent me some photos from the Knit-Out that I stumbled upon on my visit to New York last month. Here’s one of me (right) teaching drop spinning:

Teaching spinning at Knit-Out New York

It was fun. You never know when you might find yourself on the other side of the country teaching spinning.

So here I am in New Jersey. I tried to find some textile things of interest, so I looked up a local group, the Big Apple Knitting Guild. They had a meeting Saturday and I could get there on the subway. The meeting is a typical guild type of meeting, some business, a charity auction for hurricane relief, a speaker and socializing.

The program for the day was Lily Chin (a guild member) introducing her new line of yarns. For anyone living under an even larger rock than I do, she’s a big knit and crochet designer and is constantly on the road doing yarn shows, tv appearances and so on. She creates patterns, writes books and is a good teacher. Some people like her, some people hate her. Mostly I only have issue with the whole poncho thing. And I hadn’t even seen the Martha Dog Poncho because I don’t watch television. To her credit, she’s also over ponchos but somehow the market wants them I guess. Mostly what I saw was a woman trying to make a living by knowing her customers and trying to give them what they want without either pandering or being stuffy. People say she’s got a big ego, but mostly it seemed no different than any other business owner’s self-promotion. So there was a lot of handing around of sample garments and fondling of yarn and generally a good time was had by all. As for her new yarn collection, it is well thought out. I expect it will be even better next season when she gets the custom spun yarns, to pull it off on time she had to go with existing yarns from Europe but she is working with a mill in Canada. The patterns are simple but some of the garments are interesting and they all are reasonable for an average non-expert knitter. Each yarn has a crochet pattern too.

Enough about knitting, then. Also at this meeting I found out there was a huge yarn festival the next day. Knit-out New York was in Union Square Park and there was going to be giveaways and booths and all sorts of things. I even got my sister, who is finally getting around to finishing her first garter stitch scarf, to go. We get there and I start looking around, I get about three booths down and I find … spinners! A guild from upstate had a booth and was demonstrating spinning. I quietly had a look around while one of the demonstrators showed how to use a drop spindle and asked if anyone wanted to give it a go. I waited. Nobody was volunteering. Ok, I said, I’ll do it. I gave it a minute before I pointed out that I was, well, “somewhat experienced” at this. I put down my bag and almost immediately started teaching.

I did want to see the rest of the show, so I had to get up for a while. But I came back and spent the next two hours carding and spinning and talking to people. It was a little weird because although it looked like I was with the guild and might know local shops and teachers, I didn’t. I would say “I’m not from New York” and hear back “That’s ok, I’m from New Jersey.” “No, really.” I taught a spinner who wanted to learn how to card, several novices who were confused about some of the basics and spun for a teacher with a video camera. An experienced spinner showed me her new copy of Pluckyfluff’s art yarn book, which I had heard about but not seen. Because I could move around and had this funny looking spinny thing in my hand, I got a lot of attention. It was a bit weird. I hadn’t set out to take over somebody’s guild booth but it’s funny how things worked out. The folks from the guild seemed happy to have another demonstrator and I had a good time and managed to stay out of the sun in the process.

I’ve been trying to not obsessively check the package tracking, and I thought I was being fairly mellow about things. Then I realized I had a typo on one of my labels that made it incorrect. All my checking and checking again and reading over everything and making sure the right label with the right information got stuck on the right card and attached to the right object. I’m actually not all that surprised there was an error with all the different pieces involved. Each yarn had six printed stickers to go with it. And several times I stuck on the wrong one only to realize it seconds later. I tried to set up a system as much as possible so that I got everything together correctly, because this is a huge project to try to organize.

So, needless to say, I was in a panic. I calmed down enough to contemplate my possible options and then sent the mentor an email. It was still a little early here on the west coast to call her. But the registrar is in North Carolina, so I called her. She is the one who will be handling all the boxes anyway. She was exceedingly helpful and would be happy to attach a new label if I sent her the correct one. I was so nervous about it I even got which label it was confused. (I had the wrong number of plies, which is on the yarn index card, but the others are correct.) I immediately printed out a new label and stuck it in an envelope with a snippet of yarn for easier identification. I’ll run it over to the post office in a little bit and it will go out today. As much as the official instructions are intimidating, confusing and even occasionally conflicting, the people have been friendly and helpful and for this I am thankful.

Now, with that emergency resolved, I can continue on with my weekend. A bunch of local fiber folks are getting together for a retreat at someone’s home. I’m not bringing a spinning wheel and I even decided to not bring a spindle. I have some knitting to do, a gift project, that is about as close to mindless as you can get without it being a garter stitch rectangle. (It is basically a giant dishcloth, exactly the kind that aunts and grandmothers have been knitting of 4-ply cotton for decades.) Which is good, because I’m going to sit on my butt by the pool all weekend. I’m going to chat with friends and bake bread and knit and generally not do anything I don’t feel like. I might teach some weaving, I packed the frame loom and a bunch of assorted shuttles, shed sticks, weaving swords and rods.

I haven’t done much with updating the website, but I do have pictures of most things to put online. A few yarns went out without photos but I still have samples of most of those so I can at least have something up. I’m going to take it easy with that because I have a bunch of things to do, for this website and others. I have a ton of article ideas that have been on hold to get written, in addition to starting on my summary of the COE process. I’m not going to publish anything on that until I get the results back, but I’m starting to think about how this has gone and what I want to say about it. But right now there is a deck chair in Petaluma with my name on it.

No, the cotton is not done yet. But I did some other things at least.

This week I had my first real try at reeling silk. I did a basic how-to with a friend some months ago but he set everything up and we all just tried it for a few minutes. He was still there, but I did nearly everything so I could learn to use the equipment. It went exceptionally well and I got some very fine filament silk out of it. Now I have to decide just what I want to do with it. I have been thinking of using this for the medium silk skein and I have some ideas of how to do it. Now I can try some out and see what I think.

Today I went to a sheep shearing party. There is a park in San Ramon that is a farm, they have sheep for dog training. Every year there is a public event for shearing and there are demonstrations, kid art projects and so on. A bunch of local spinners went to more-or-less sit around and be colorful atmosphere and answer questions about spinning. It was windy and hard to get much spinning done but we had a good time showing off our stuff. Also, we can get basically all the wool we want from whatever is not claimed by someone else. It’s not great stuff, but it’s ok and I always need more dirty greasy wool, right? Yeah. Well, anyway, I came home with a bunch of wool that I have to figure out what to do with. I have a small bag of some kind of Suffolk that I think I might use for my remaining wool COE skein and a random fleece that looked usable. It was finer than most and not particularly nasty, even if it’s shorter than I like. The shearer was keeping some fleeces to sell to the local wool pool, but only the white ones so this landed in the discard pile. It’s several shades of gray, I sorted it out back and washed up some samples to have a look.

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