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"The HUB" Vol. XX, No. 2
Bimonthly newsletter of March - April 1999


April 9, 1999, 6:30 p.m.. to 9 p.m., Christ Episcopal Church, Meadville, PA


The program at our April meeting will be special! Renowned spinner, dyer, weaver, and knitter Rita Buchanan will give a talk on how to find time to fit the fiber arts into our busy lives.

Rita is the author of A Weaver's Garden and A Dyer's Garden. She is on the editorial board of Spin-Off and writes regularly for other fiber publications. Beyond all this, she is a dynamic speaker, gifted teacher, and terrific person. Don't miss the chance to hear her!

Please note that the date, time, and place of this meeting have all been changed to avoid Easter weekend and take advantage of Rita's visit to teach our spinning workshop. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. on the evening of Friday, April 9. We will try to keep the business meeting short so that Rita can begin her talk promptly at 7:30. The meeting will be held at Christ Episcopal Church, Diamond Park, Meadville. (This is where the Tuesday Spin Group meets.) "Diamond Park" is in the center of town; North Main Street runs through the park. If you need more detailed directions, call the church at 814-724-7389 (don't be surprised if our president, Sue Spencer, answers the phone - she works at the church).


The following people have paid their dues and are members for 1999:

Susan Breckenridge Jessie R. Hamilton Eve Petrick
Helen Colaw Elizabeth Jennings Sharon Reiland
Bonnie Crytzer Barb Lodge Joyce Rose
Lorraine Dallas Donna Long Terri Seblink
Ilene Elliston Virginia Maine Ann Sheffield
Susan Fenton Dorothy Maynard Sue Spencer
Elaine Fertig Joanna McDermot Linda B. Steinbuhler
Karen and Laura Fry Marilyn Merbach Ruth Walker-Daniels
Cheryl Geist-Brozell Mathilda Murphy Nancy and Mary Washok
Linda Gross Mary Musser  
Blanche Hall Jeanne Nemenz  


There is still time to pay your dues for 1999, still a bargain at $10.00 per family. Dues are now handled by our membership coordinator, Susan Fenton, who will make sure that your address, etc., are up to date. If there are any changes to your address, phone number, or email address, let Susan know when you send her your dues check (payable to the Northwest Pennsylvania Spinners and Weavers Guild). Also, if you are on email, please let Susan know whether it's OK to list your email address on the Guild's Web page.


Earlier this year, we mourned the passing of long-time member Helen McCartney. Ronald McCartney sent this note to the Guild:

"You gave Mom such enjoyment through the guild. You gave us support at her passing and we thank you."

-The McCartney Family


Treasurer's report:

Checking balance: $772.94
Savings balance: $2462.88


The meeting began with Show&Tell. Your humble editor was running around setting up for the program, so my notes on the Show&Tell are regrettably sketchy. Fortunately, I did hear Joanna McDermot's moving description of her ordination and her pleasure and surprise at receiving the stole that Barb Lodge designed and wove using yarn spun by many guild members.

Several announcements were made. Sigrid Piroch described the workshops and presentations she will be doing on historic coverlets for the Washington County and Butler Guilds in March, and she provided information about registration and course details. Joyce Rose announced the teachers and classes for this year's Eastern Great Lakes Conference scheduled for October [details appear elsewhere in the Hub]. Susan Breckenridge requested that a weaver in the guild take over as keeper of the Guild loom; Karen Fry volunteered.

Ann Sheffield talked about plans for the upcoming Rita Buchanan workshop. We agreed to begin our April meeting at 6:30 p.m. on April 9 and to schedule Rita's talk for 7:30. Linda Gross volunteered to drive Rita from Butler to Cochranton on Thursday evening, and Susan Fenton offered to drive her to the airport on Sunday evening. Susan also agreed to coordinate refreshments for the workshop.

Ann also urged people to consider committing themselves to Spin-Off's "Save the Sheep" contest, and she offered to share information about rare breeds and their wool and to help people find sources of fiber. Ann, Cheryl Geist-Brozell, Joanna McDermot, and Joyce Rose all agreed to make something for the contest.

Bonnie Crytzer presented the results of her research into possible sites for this year's Fiber Festival. After extensive discussion of costs, amenities, accessibility, and other features of the sites, we decided to hold the event at Two Mile Run Park. We also agreed to make the festival a one-day event this year. Bonnie will pursue reserving the site for a Saturday in September.


The Tuesday Spinning group continues to meet the third Tuesday of the month at Christ Episcopal Church on Diamond Park in Meadville, 10 am - 2 pm. The next meeting is on April 20. As always, all are welcome to attend, with beginners especially encouraged. Bring a project, a wheel or handspindle, and a bag lunch. Beverages are provided; bring a treat to share if you wish.


The annual Great Lakes Fibers Show will be held May 29&30 at the Wayne County Fairgrounds in Wooster, Ohio. The event will feature a marketplace of fiber and fiber-related items, demonstrations of spinning, weaving, and related crafts, workshops, and sheep and wool shows and sales. For more information, contact Linda Reichert, email


Four Guild members - Cheryl Geist-Brozell, Joanna McDermot, Joyce Rose, and Ann Sheffield - have committed themselves to entering the Spin-Off "Save the Sheep" contest. Guidelines for the contest can be obtained from Interweave Press (1-800-645-3675). Basically, a "significant portion" of the item "must be made from the handspun yarn of an endangered breed." There is also a swatch category. The deadline for the contest is November 15, 1999, so there's still time to take this on! As for why you might want to do this, consider the following excerpt from Rare Wools from Rare Sheep 2. Why endangered sheep matter to spinners by Deborah Robson (Spin-Off, Spring 1999):

"Here are a few examples of what spinners stand to lose if rare breeds are abandoned to extinction.

"Consider color. With a few exceptions, the rare breeds carry the genes for colored wool. Color in fleece is determined by the interplay of genes at several locations. White is strongly dominant and black is readily overruled in most cases. The genetics required to produce brown involve a complex dance of other genes stepping out of the way; it's a wonder we have any brown wool at all, much less the shades some breeds are known for. Certain rare breeds produce most of our colored fleeces because their genetic make-up is replete with the necessary - and notably recessive - genes.

"Consider texture. Traditionally, the wide variety of wools has supported a broad array of craft techniques and art forms. Some wools felt well, while others do not. The finest wools can be used for underwear, the coarsest for rugs and camel trappings and cords. The loss of rare breeds means the loss of these extremes of wool texture, and of the wools which are superior for particular uses, not just adequate or acceptable.

"Consider spinning. Unless handspinners speak to the qualities of the fiber and support a small but steady market for it, only the machines' needs will be considered in the types of wool that are produced. We owe it to ourselves - now, while we can - to teach our fingers the ways of working with wools outside out comfort zone and expertise. Our informed decisions now about wool from endangered sheep can assure that the fiber is still around when we discover that we need it after all."


There are several spaces left in the Rita Buchanan workshop on "Spinning Cotton". This one-day class is sponsored by the Butler Guild and will be held on Thursday, April 8 (the day before our workshop begins). The cost will be $23-29 per person (includes materials). For more information, contact Amy Guggenheimer. To hold a space, send a $20 deposit to Amy.

Course description: "Everyone loves the comfort and easy care of cotton fabrics. Cotton cloth is even nicer if you start with handspun yarn. Spinning cotton isn't difficult, but it feels very different from spinning longer fibers or wool. It calls for a very gentle touch and relaxed movement. This is a useful skill to master, because the techniques for spinning cotton also work well for cashmere, camel down, and other short, fine fibers. Learn how to adjust your wheel, how to shop for cotton, how to hold and draft the fiber, and how to make cotton yarns suitable for knitting or for weaving."


The schedule for the annual Eastern Great Lakes Fiber Conference has been announced. The gathering will be held on October 9-11 at the Center of Renewal in Stella Niagara, and the theme is "Sett a Spell, Weave a Spell".

Registration information is available from Pattie Lamb, email The conference workshops are described below.

Three-day workshop:

Shaker Rugs with Mary Elva Erf. During this three-day workshop, students will make a sample Shaker "rug" approximately 16" x 22", and one braid to be used around the selvedges of the rug. The completed rug will be a usable size for a table runner or wall hanging. The rugs will be worked on an 8/4 cotton warp and use a combination of wool fabrics and wool yarns for weft. Prior to the workshop, fabrics will be dyed by the instructor, using the original Shaker colors. The first two days of the workshop will be spent preparing materials, observing a dye demonstration, and weaving. The third day will be spent finishing the rugs. Space is limited to 12 participants.

Two-day workshops:

Fabrics That Go Bump with Madelyn van der Hoogt. Discover how to weave fantastic fabrics that are not flat - on purpose!: pleated weaves, waffle weaves, cords, seersuckers, honeycombs, deflected double weaves, and more. Each student chooses one of these weaves to explore. At the end of the first day, samples are removed from the loom, washed, and critiques on class. On the second day, looms are exchanged for a library of samples.

Fabric Decoration and Design with Catherine Joslyn. Explore a traditional method of cloth decoration with unlimited contemporary applications. You will see slides and examples of international textiles from the instructor's collection and published articles. After examining motifs from traditional textiles, such as African adinkra, use stamps and fabric paints to experiment with modern materials and colors. This technique is excellent for decorating cloth for embroidery, garments, household fabrics, and expressive works and for decorating paper and other surfaces. It can also be used as a resist with dyes for more stunning effects. The instructor will furnish cloth for the samples the class will make. You may bring plain handwoven fabric, blank note cards, t-shirts and other items for experimental painting.

Felted Boot and Mitten Workshop with Beth Beede. This is a two-day felting workshop that explores various methods of making boots, slippers and mittens. You will learn how to form, shape, and fit these objects using an endless array of colors and designs. Participants can expect to take home one or more pairs of these items, depending on the complexity of the projects. Space is limited to 10 participants.

One-day workshops:

Introduction to Complex Weaves with Madelyn van der Hoogt. Familiar 4-shaft structures gain exciting new design potential when extended to more shafts - and they are often easier to thread and weave. Be free from recipe-weaving forever: learn to use your own original designs with the pattern weaves of your choice. Instruction emphasizes the use of block profile drafts with unit weaves.

Simple Secrets of Great Designing for All Textile Arts with Catherine Joslyn. Secrets that give dramatic power, sparkle, and depth to weaving and other design projects. Myriad possibilities through simple techniques, as practices by artists and artisans throughout the world. "Foolproof" ways to design aesthetically satisfying work. By studying the elements and organizational principles of design and the ways different cultures use color, artists can reexamine assumptions about how colors "should" be used and recharge their work. Learn to generate original designs and how to critique your own work. You will see illustrations from the instructor's published articles. Participants will produce several designs using different methods, for future use on projects, and may bring previously completed projects for critique.

Brimless Hats Around a Ball with Beth Beede. In this workshop you will learn to felt a hat using a bouncing rubber ball in a day that us sure to be fun and educational. Participants leave with a finished hat that can be chosen from a variety of styles from cloche to beret to cap. They might also include flaps, ruffles and rolls, as well as decorations such as mohair locks and glitter in the felt itself. Space is limited to 15 participants.

Of sheep in the Chiapas culture of Mexico: "They live physically close to the sheep and treat them as we would pets, giving the sheep names a few days after they are born… They believe sheep can be happy or sad, and sadness in sheep, as in humans, can cause sickness. They believe their sheep have souls. Chiapas sheep are sacred members of the everyday sacred patterns of Chiapas life." -Donna Muller in Spin-Off, Spring 1999.

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