Random thoughts of a fiber enthusiast - mostly fiber related, sometimes coherent

Month: October 2007 Page 2 of 3

SOAR Review – Tatting

Armed with new found curiosity about a fiber craft that I abandoned before I even started, I went to Mielke’s Farm booth and picked up a copy of The Complete Book of Tatting by Rebecca Jones. From this book, I found out that there is not one way to tat, not 3, but six different methods of tatting. The sixth method is needle tatting. There are 3 different tools that can be used: tatting needle for needle tatting, and shuttles with and without a hook on the end.

I also found out that the method that I was introduced to before is what Rebecca labeled as the Traditional Method (Method 2). After reading through all the different methods using a shuttle, I found that the Reverse Riego is the method that makes the most sense to me. The whole in/out of the traditional method just doesn’t make any sense to me. Also, her clear diagrams of what you are trying to achieve, at each step of the way, made it easy for me to check what was happening.

Tatting Shuttle and Lace SamplerMaybe it was the book. Maybe it was the pretty shuttle. Maybe it was the pretty thread that I spun myself out of some silk roving from Carol Rhoades’ class. Maybe it was because the pretty silk matched the pretty shuttle. Maybe it was because I was tying plenty of half hitches on my boat in the past few years. Maybe it was all that creative energy of the SOAR participants swirling around me. Maybe it was all of it. It clicked. It. Just. Clicked.

Shuttle is a Lacis Dymondwood Shuttle from Carolina Homespun. The silk is handspun and chain plied. I didn’t check the wpi.

And the greatest thing? A few yards of silk (that took about 15-30 minutes to spin and ply) and a shuttle will provide hours and hours of entertainment. Seriously. You can’t get more portable than that.

As you can see, my lace isn’t very even yet. I’m still having problems getting consistent sizing on my picots. I’m also having problems joining my rings into a circular motif. But I’m sure that will come with practice. My picots are already starting to look better.

Tatting epiphany was one of the most memorial events of the market/free day at SOAR.

Other memorable events?

It was during the 2 hours in line to purchase my rovings from Rovings that I got to talk with Charlotte about my new life changes, and where she shared her experiences. She was extremely encouraging and helped put aside some of my hesitations and fears on whether this is the right thing to do or not.

Um, yeah, you read that right. Two hours. Yes, from the time I picked out my fiber to the time that I actually paid for my purchase was 2 hours. 2 hours in line while some of the best shopping to be had was snatched up by others. 2 hours of not buying anything. 2 hours of not spending money. Silver lining and all that.

Unfortunately, and I completely blame Charlotte for this, Charlotte told me that she would hold my place in line while I browse the market. I just wanted to look at some pretty spindles. What I actually did was get sucked into the Watson Wheels booth.

This was dangerous because I always wanted my fairytale spinning wheel. I have several castle styled wheels, but never found a Norwegian/Saxony styled wheel that I really liked.

Well, not quite true. I was saving up for a Schacht-Reeves. I tried out Morgaine’s right-hand flyer Schacht-Reeves at her home once and fell in love. I’ve also tried the Lendrum Saxony. It didn’t call out to me. I tried a used Reeves 28″ Saxony. Again, it didn’t call to me.

From the moment I sat down at Marie, with the right-hand flyer, it was like coming home. Wow. It was so smooth. There was no awkwardness. Spinning was smooth. Treadling was smooth. There was no funky positioning of my body to make it work. And on top of it all, the cherry and the plain spokes just made my heart go pitter patter. (It’ll match my handmade cherry bed frame.) Aside. Did you know that all the cherry he uses are recovered from storm damaged cherry trees? He recovers, mills and cures the wood himself to ensure quality and stability of the wood he uses.

After I made my purchase at Rovings, I went back to the Watson Wheels booth several times. By afternoon, I wrote out a check as a deposit for a new wheel.

There is no justification for this, as Grace might have implied. I never pretended that there was a need for this wheel. I just wanted it. Plain and simple. I will make no excuses for it. I will love it when it arrives. I can’t wait. (It will reside at the cottage. I have a perfect place for it so I can spin and watch the shipping traffic.)

Blog Note

For those returning visitors, I’ve been playing with the template. The new picture in the header is one that I took a couple of weeks ago at the cottage. I love the light, the fog layer, and the fact that you can see the tops of the Olympics as well as the sound. Hopefully, some of that brush on the bottom of the picture will be cleared away by the next time I’m up there, so I will have a better view when sitting down in the living room. I won’t be getting rid of all of them — gotta keep the bluff (and house!) from sliding down the hill, but trimmed so that it is manageable.

SOAR Review

Wow. What can I say about SOAR that hasn’t already been said several times over on the blogosphere? (For a sample, go here, here, here, here, and, of course, here, just to name a few.)

I am exhausted. But that may also have to do with the early morning cross country flight, 3 hour drive to attend a 1st birthday party for a pair of twins, heading back to the cottage to pack up the cottage, and then the multi-state drive back to California through rain so hard that you can’t see 3 car lengths ahead of you.

Nope. That’s not it. It’s SOAR. I still remember the feeling that if someone fed me one more piece of information, I was going to explode. And it wasn’t going to be pretty. They will still be finding pieces of me all over the bunny slope this winter and the golf course next spring.

Let’s start with pictures of the view from my balcony.

SOAR - view from balcony

That’s the bunny slope you see down below me. Heck! Even I can ski that one. (Me. Skis. Not a pretty picture.) And over yonder? That’s Lake Bellaire. And the gorgeous colors in the trees! I wanted to capture all those colors in a sweater. Wouldn’t that be gorgeous? I snapped these in the wee hours of the morning, around 7:30 AM (4:30 AM for those of us on the West Coast), before I ran off for breakfast.


My 3 day workshop was with Carol Rhoades on Handcarding and Woolen Spinning. (Aside: The resort decided to re-do Interweave’s schedule posters, and renamed our class as “Handcarving” instead of “Handcarding”. We immediately demanded knives.) I chose this class because I took a workshop with Carol last winter and she made handcarding seem so easy and effortless, with beautiful end results. We carded and we carded. By the end of the first morning, I was able to produce beautiful, light, fluffy rolags. Carol’s rolags could make you cry with their perfection. Mine? Noils. Unruly ends. Rolls that perpetually threaten to expand and lose their shape. But they were mine. And I didn’t have to gnash my own teeth as the teeth of my handcards were gnashing against each other. Instead, I heard soft, gentle sound of a hairbrush, running through hair — wool, in this case.

All zen-ness was lost that afternoon when Carol taught us to spin our beautiful rolags with her signature long draw. Really, it’s simple. Just a little twist of your wrist/forearm. Yeah, right. Tell that to the knot that was growing in my left shoulder.

Rest of the 3 days was spent reinforcing what she taught during the first day. More rolags with a variety of fibers: Shetland, Corriedale, Polworth, Merino, Romney, Camel, Alpaca, Mohair, Cashmere, Cotton, Silk, blends, color blending and not blending, just to name a few. We continued long-draw, traditional/English vs. American long draw. We discussed worsted, woolen, semi-worsted, semi-woolen spinning techniques. We played with knitting with our spun yarns as well as unspun from our rolags.

Yeah, you get the picture. That’s a lot of information packed into 3 days.

Wednesday night was the show-and-tell. It reminded me of those parent nights that the grade schools had, so that the parents get to see what Johnny and Suzy have been up to.

This is what they did in Sharon Costello’s Needle Felted Animals class. The sheep on the right was made by Shirley of Lambspun.

SOAR - needle felted tiger SOAR - needle felted sheep

I was too busy oohing and aahing over the work that I didn’t take many pictures. But I did take some pictures of Margaret Stove’s lace work.

SOAR - Margaret Stove circular lace shawl SOAR - Margaret Stove painted tussah

Thursday was a day of rest and shopping. But I will remember it as the day of tatting. No, I didn’t tat that day, but I talked to 3 different people about tatting and how I really didn’t enjoy it. I was convinced to give it another go. 3 different people, 3 very different tatting methods. It was all very serendipitous. I admired some beautiful Lacis wood shuttles at Carolina Homespun, and lamented that it was too bad I didn’t like tatting. I decided to give it another go. More on this in a separate post.

The next 2 days were a blur of half day retreat sessions. I took Margaret Stove’s Spinning for Lace, Robin Russo’s Hand-combing, Sara Lamb‘s Inkle Loom Weaving, and Kathryn Alexander’s Entrelac Knitting.

In any case, I now can use my hand cards, hand combs with more confidence. Expertise will come with practice, but at least I will have some basic reference point to work from.

As a result, here are some new tools that I’ve decided I needed: inkle loom and regular hand combs. I have the Forsythe mini-combs, but I need something a wee bit larger to process more fiber. Of course, I will see if my newly acquired knowledge will allow me to process with more ease and speed.

And the people I’ve met at the retreat were amazing. The talent and energy was astounding. Everywhere you turn, there are incredible people doing incredible things. It was truly inspiring.

The most important lesson learned was that nothing is impossible. You are only limited by your imagination. And after a week with these talented people, I found that my scope was way too small. I need to expand my horizons.

Here are some pictures of the spin-in, on the last night of SOAR.

SOAR - Meg Crowther There was singing. Meg Crowther sang an Irish Spinning Song. In the foreground is Cyndi Lair of Schacht Spindles, spinning on a spindle. That’s the back of Sara Lamb’s head. She’s wearing one of her gorgeous handwoven jackets.
SOAR - Duck Soup There was music, courtesy of Duck Soup.
SOAR - dancing There was dancing. That’s Kathryn Alexander in the foreground, wearing one of her wonderful hats.
SOAR - drinking And there was a little bit of boozing. Here is the result of the hotel room cleaning and sharing of the remains of the larder, so to speak, for the last evening together.
SOAR - broomstick crochet Oh, and there was a little fiber activity mixed in all of that. Here is Jan Van Stralen (?), demonstrating broomstick crochet. (Get your head out of the gutter. That’s a knitting needle.) She normally uses a regular broomstick/dowel that reaches down to the floor.


There were two ladies that have made a huge impact on me personally. I want to thank Myrt Naylor for some very wise insights on widowhood. And Charlotte Quiggle for sharing her experiences for work and lifestyle changes, and her encouragements that I am doing the right thing.

(Yes, that Charlotte Quiggle. I even got to pet the original Ribbing is No Yoke Sweater. In cashmere, no less.)

Now, I leave you with a sunset picture from my hotel room. I’m exhausted from just revisiting all those pictures.

SOAR - sunset

Heading Home

I’m on the ferry, leaving the island and my little cottage behind.
Sniff. The critters and I should be back home in the Bay Area tomorrow

SOAR was a blast. I’ll post pictures and my summary over the weekend,
after a couple of loads of laundry, grocery run, etc.

Page 2 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén