Thursday, May 3, 2012

Stringtopia 2012

This last weekend, I went to Stringtopia 2012 in Lebanon, Ohio.  It was so much fun and so inspiring, I actually felt like I needed to blog.  I know it's been a while (hello, August last year), but what can I say, after the girls are in bed, I've been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Or doing some knitting, or a bit of reading.  Well, add more spinning to that mix, because, as I said, I had an inspiring weekend.

The samples from Breeds Study and Spinning for Lace
Stringtopia started last year, and while I had heard about it and wanted to attend, I didn't think going with a 5 month old would be doable.  Well, after taking a class with Abby Franquemont last summer (see previous post), I knew I didn't want to miss it this year.  I would have missed it, however, without the assistance of my most awesome mother.  She flew out here from California and we drove down to Lebanon with the girls.  While I filled my days with wonderful fiber classes (more about them below), she spent time with Margaret and Alice.  We all ate our meals together and I helped get them ready for bed at night (before leaving again for socializing), but for the most part, Friday through Sunday, the girls hung out with my mom.  The best part?  She's willing to do it again next year!

So, what did I take?  What classes inspired and instructed?  Breeds Study with Beth Smith of The Spinning Loft was a fabulous class.  Learned about how sheep and wools are classified, but most importantly (to me), we covered how to process the wool ourselves.  Excellent instructions for washing, and flicking, carding, and combing locks.  I have a set of cards, but now I want a flicker and a set or two of combs ... oh, and fleece, I want the fleece to process.  The number and quality of samples we got to spin was phenomenal, and she provided a way to organize it, too.  Other than the obvious knowledge Beth possesses, my favorite part about her as a teacher was how she handled a student who wanted individual instruction that was not part of the scope of the class.  She was polite, but directly and quickly told them to (and I DON'T quote), 'F-off, that is not what this class is about, this is about sampling the fleeces of different sheep breeds.'  Seriously, it was a thing of beauty.

Saturday was again with Beth, but this time, Spinning for Lace, which is really about spinning fine yarns.  Again, we had crazy samples (qiviut!!!) and again I came away feeling more confident in myself.  Both classes helped me think about my spinning so I can better make the yarns that I want to, instead of just ending up with whatever comes out.

Sunday I took Doing More with Your Drop Spindle with Abby, which was great.  I've incorporated some techniques already, however, I have found the best way to do more is, wait for it... use your drop spindle.  I know, shocking, right?  If you actually use it, you get yarn made.  It's crazy.

And then, Sunday afternoon I had Spinning Silk with Sara Lamb during which I cried.  No, she was great, they were tears of exhaustion, joy and "ah-ha!".  One thing she said (really, it was kind of a theme with all of the instructors throughout the weekend) was that you don't have to be perfect.  Now, I will  not claim to be perfect (certainly no one who has seen my house would claim I'm a perfect housekeeper), but I know I have some perfectionist tendencies (which I have tried to squelch).  That being said, however, I don't tend to pursue activities at which I am not immediately compentent.  When I started spinning, I could make yarn, and I enjoyed it, so I continued.  I didn't spin as much as I might have, though, because while I could make yarn, it wasn't the fine yarn I wanted to make.  And logically, I know that to get better, I have to practice, but this weekend really hit that home for me, and also made me more accepting of the yarn I get while working towards the yarn I want.

Jacob wool spun on Turkish drop spindle and Greensleeves spindle

While down there, I sold my darling Louet S-10 Maggie to Shelly.  She had spun on it and really liked it, and after spinning on Abby's Louet Julie last summer, I bought one of my own.  I didn't really need both wheels and while I have an emotional attachment to Maggie as my first wheel (and a good one she was), Shelly will provide her with an excellent home and get a lot of use out of her.  Beth brought a shop down with her and boy, it was hard to rein myself in.  I came home with some lovely dyed Jacob and a braid each of dyed Shetland, Wensleydale, and Tussah silk.  I might have also purchased a small Turkish spindle (with which I am in love) and a Greensleeves spindle that was too beautiful to pass up.  To thank my mom for helping out, I got her a cool small handheld loom (didn't get pictures of it before she went home), beater and yarn needle.  It is something easy and quiet she can do while watching soccer games with my dad.  And I got a Cricket loom for Margaret (also, kind of, maybe, me).

Margaret enjoying weaving
There is more to Stringtopia than just the classes, you get to meet some really wonderful people, too.  I've known Nancy Folsom online for a while now, but getting to meet her in person and hang out with her was really fun.  She is just as funny and snarky in real life.  And Sandi Wiseheart is just as great as you would hope.  Rebecca and Lara and Janet are all warm and funny and wonderful people, too.  I know there are people I'm not mentioning, but seriously, it was so much fun and I really am looking forward to heading back next year.

The girls have changed and a lot has stayed the same since my last post.  My parents have visited once, my mom has been out two other times; Margaret turned 4 and Alice turned 1, both in November.  So we're here, just playing and running around and knitting and spinning and really, this time, I hope not to let so much time pass before blogging again, but, sometimes what really needs to happen is a nap.
Alice napping in the car on the way home from Ohio (photo by Margaret)


Anonymous said...

It sounds like you had such a great time! And hurrah for supportive baby sitters ... er ... mothers! I can't believe how much M's grown!

Lara said...

It was lovely meeting & hanging out with you too! Your girls were so well behaved and adorable, and I loved chatting with your Mom. Shelly is thrilled with her wheel:) Happy spinning!