Friday, January 16, 2015

I couldn't put it off any longer: a date with Maggie Casey and company

I have owned a Schacht Ladybug spinning wheel since that day in 2010 when Jim from Yarn Barn Of Kansas helped me choose it at the Albuquerque Convergence. I use it frequently to ply my Harrisville singles yarn together when I want the colors quite well mixed. But I realized recently when I had some glitches with the wheel drawing and was futzing with whorl sizes that I barely know what the parts of a spinning wheel are called much less how to use it properly. If I hadn't done a crash review of part names before I went to visit the Schacht Spindle Company last month, I would have looked at Denise with a little bit of trepidation when she asked about my mother-of-all.

During that fateful visit, Denise mentioned that Maggie Casey, co-owner of Boulder's Shuttles, Spindles, and Skeins was teaching a beginning spinning class soon. It was further impressed upon me what an unmissable opportunity this was and that the classes filled up right away. I signed up. Even though it takes 75 minutes to drive to Boulder. Even though the classes go until 9:30 at night. Even though it is winter and a snowstorm could jeopardize any of the 6 classes. Even though my proverbial plate is full to overflowing with tasks. I want to spin and it couldn't wait.

Last night was the first class. Maggie brought this Corriedale fleece for the 8 of us to split. I never knew fleece looked like this right off the sheep.
 I was hooked even after hearing the word carder uttered. Somehow it hadn't occurred to me that there were steps between sheering the sheep and spinning. Carding seems to be a big one of those steps.
Maggie is a great story-teller and I left with a drop-spindle partly filled with inexpertly spun wool and a head full of sheep stories. I'm washing the fleece right now and can't wait for it to dry so I can practice with the drop spindle some more.

While listening to Maggie tell us how she scours her fleece and that she uses laundry baskets with holes all around--impossible to find any more, I searched my mental house for something I could use. Then I remembered this. The first stainless steel dye pot I bought many years ago was intended to fry turkeys. I never understood why anyone would dunk a turkey in boiling oil to cook it, but apparently many people do because Cabella's sells a lot of equipment for this pursuit. I never had a use for the inner bucket with holes... until now. I give you my new fleece-scouring apparatus, used these many years as a studio trash can.
 Now if that fleece would only dry so I can practice with the carders and drop spindle! Maggie wants us to start on the wheel next week and I'm hopelessly unprepared.

17 comments:

  1. Wow, neat, Rebecca, I need to come to Ft. C. Can I help you a little before next week? Got an hour this weekend? PM me. I would love to help.

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  2. How fun! Not a spinner so will look forward to watching your progress. I never had turkey cooked that way until I went to my first Thanksgiving day block party in Arizona. Yum, yum, yum!

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  3. and down the rabbit hole she goes!! I love spinning...it is so therapeutically relaxing. Doesn't matter if it's a wheel, spindle, or electric spinner....just zone out and relax.

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    1. I am a little worried about the rabbit hole! :-) But sometimes you just jump. Maybe there will be a magic shrinking potion at the other end and I can find that silly Cheshire Cat.

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  4. I echo Valerie... Welcome down the rabbit hole! I just finished sinning a Lincoln corrie mix fleece in singles for tapestry yarn. Love the long wool luster..

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  5. Yay, I think you have come full circle Rebecca. You'll be able to spin, dye and weave with your own yarn. I love to spin. I just zone out. It's like meditation. However, I'm not a great spinner so I have no plans to use it in a tapestry like many others do. Have fun, remember, it's not life or death, it's just spinning.

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  6. Welcome to the wonderful world of spinning Rebecca! And what a lovely teacher you have too! I hope you find spinning as much fun as I do.

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  7. Only a matter of time, eh? Excited to watch & learn from your journey. And admire your commitment to doing the things you love, weather and distance be damned!

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    1. Thanks Ama! I just hope bad weather doesn't turn me into stupid because I want to go to class so bad! I think Emily will make sure I don't go if I might die. :-)

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  8. Sometime you may want to spin unwashed wool or in the grease as it is sometimes called. As it does have a scent to it I will do this on a lazy summer afternoon. But it all depends what you have in mind for your finished project. The lanolin is great for my garden worn hands. Happy spinning!

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    1. We practiced some spinning in the grease. I've heard spinners talk about this and now I know what they mean! The lanolin was amazing. I kind of like the sound of "spinning in the grease"

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  9. Jan. 20 2015 Hi Rebecca....it's Janet here, Jersey girl in your first on-line class tapestry group last summer....believe me, you changed my weaving perspectives when I was in your class....I never imagined that I could be such a neat weaver with such a neat back- of- the- piece canvas...am glad you finally entered into the spinning world like the rest of us who never can have enough washed and rested fleeces ready to go...and don't they smell good---nothing like store-bought....wanted to tell you for my 79th birthday celebration this past weekend I went to the Tapestry Exhibit at the small Hunterdon Museum in Clinton...Carol Russell (my first tapestry teacher---remember I told you in her course that you could not be considered one of "Carol's girls" unless you kept straight selvedges) is the curator of this exhibit and she did a wonderful job with her comments posted beside each work......a very good selection was there from Archie Brennan to Susan Maffei to my very favorite Sarah Swett whose tapestry book was in a glass case but you still wanted to turn the page).....some of my kids' comments were that each artist had his/her own individual style.....do you think in your spinning classes you will develop your own style.....my very first spinning teacher here in NJ taught me that the whole secret of good spinning is preparation, preparation, preparation and she was right....have fun amassing your new collection of drop spindles and wheels like the rest of us have done...

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    1. Janet! I so badly wanted to be at that Carol Russell exhibit opening. I have heard all about it from so many people and I just need a couple thousand dollars for a trip out there. :-) I would have loved to be at the opening and meet some of the artists I haven't seen in person yet. Plus of course it is some of the very best contemporary tapestry around now. I am greatly looking forward to my copy of her book which may not be here for a couple more months. I hear she sold completely out at the opening and those were advanced copies so there aren't more.
      I'm a little scared about where the spinning could take me equipment-wise. I don't have any intention of becoming Sarah Swett and spinning all my own warp and weft, but you never know where life will take you!!!
      Great to hear from you Janet!

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  10. Maggie taught me to spin in 2001, and it was what led me to weaving next. You'll love it. It is very relaxing.

    Cheryl Riniker

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    1. I couldn't be more impressed with Maggie Casey. At least the first class was just stellar. I can't wait for tomorrow night's class. It better not snow! I have been practicing with my drop spindle and I'm getting much better. Not sure I'm ready for the wheel but we'll find out tomorrow!

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  11. You're so lucky to live close enough to take classes with Maggie! I learned from her second hand--that is, through her book! It helped that the wheel she was using in the photographs was the same type I had, it made me feel I'd made the right choice. That looks like a very nice fleece!! Best--

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    1. I am lucky! She is amazing. I'm going to buy her book this week in class. But having her show me exactly what I am doing wrong is absolutely priceless. She is the best. (It is a great fleece! She said she was sad to give it to us, but we got it anyway.)

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