From Fleece Facts, the newsletter of the Canton Weavers and Spinners
Armchair Weaver's Syndrome (AWS) is a condition marked by strong urges to
weave, but the inability to get to the loom. AWS does not affect the afflicted's
ability to read about weaving, plan projects or spend money at the local yarn
shop. AWS in no way diminishes the love of weaving. You may be familiar with
the symptoms: wakefulness at night due to "weaving" projects in
your head and severe fretfulness caused by a strong compulsion to fondle yarn.
Generally, the main cause of AWS is the afflicted's conviction that there
is "no time to weave".
It should be noted that AWS is not all bad. You can still daydream about
projects, admire friends' weaving, read and talk about cloth. It's better
than nothing, true. But. It is no substitute for the "real thing".
I first developed the early signs of AWS
well, shortly after a certain
little person arrived in the house. Suddenly, I no longer had weekends for
uninterrupted time at the loom. There always seemed to be something else which
needed attending to. All I asked in the way of a cure was a free afternoon
where I could put a simple plain weave fabric on my loom and weave uninterrupted
- enjoying the rhythm of threading the reed, and the pleasure of feeling the
shuttle as it passed from hand to had through the shed. I missed the process
and I missed the finished project - cloth handwoven my me. But where was the
Luckily, the "Cure" was on the way under the guise of a need for
a birthday present for a friend. (My case of AWS was quite acute by this time.)
I decided to weave a scarf. I thought my friend would like it, plus this seemed
like a realistic project to accomplish, given the time. Since time was of
the essence, I based the design of the scarf on a commercially woven skirt
I'd seen a couple of days before. I gathered up some yarn I had on hand to
see if any of it would do; there was no time to shop now, plus this was a
good excuse to use up some of the yarn that my husband refers to collectively
as "Jane's Yarn Shop".
From deciding to do the project to the final pressing took just a little
over four hours, probably about the same amount of time I would've spent shopping
for a gift. I was thrilled for having accomplished my goal. And my friend
was thrilled with his new handwoven scarf. It helped to have a deadline, a
husband who was willing to get up with the baby in the morning, and a free
hour in the afternoon to weave while baby napped. A lot can get accomplished
in little snatches here and there.
So pleased to be back at my loom, I immediately put another warp on and wove
a scarf for another friend. Now, I'm on a roll
and I think I'm onto
the secret to curing AWS: Get the next warp on the loom while the loom's still
MINUTES OF THE APRIL MEETING
Bonnie Crytzer updated us on plans for our Fiber Festival. It will be held
on Friday, Sept. 10 and Saturday, Sept. 11 at Two Mile Run State Park, and
the Butler Guild will be involved in the Festival with us. On Friday, we will
have a workshop and potluck dinner. . Marilyn Merbach was suggested as a possible
instructor for the workshop. People will be able to stay at the site Friday
night. On Saturday, the event will be open to the public, vendors will be
there, and we will have a series of activities and mini-classes. Currently,
a wheel doctor, shearing demonstration, drop-spindle class with Linda Gross,
wool-combing class with Bonnie, dyeing demonstration with Ann Sheffield, and
weaving demonstration with Karen Fry and planned. Bonnie also announced that
we will again be demonstrating at the Highland Games in Edinboro, which will
be held on May 22nd this year.
The book In Sheeps' Clothing has been donated to the Guild library
in memory of Helen McCartney
Phylis Vasbinder, a member of the Buffalo guild, urged NWPSWG members to
attend the Eastern Great Lakes Fiber Conference in October. She provided information
about the "serene" site and the workshops that will be offered.
[See the March Hub for details about this conference.]
Susan Fenton described a new grant program sponsored by MAFA. They will provide
$300-1000 "seed money" to guilds who organize "mini-conferences".
At least three guilds must be involved in co-sponsoring each project. The
money earned would then be available as capital to find similar projects in
future. Susan urged us to begin thinking about possible ideas for this program.
(The application deadline is in November.)
Elaine Fertig discussed upcoming Guild programs. In June, Matilda Murphy
will do the program. August's program will be potluck picnic at Sue Spencer's.
We decided to invite old members who have lost touch to join us at the August
We discussed the benefits of becoming an affiliate member of the Handweavers
Guild of America. Affiliate membership includes benefits beyond the Shuttle,
Spindle & Dyepot subscription we already receive, but would cost $45
per year. We decided to join as an affiliate member guild.
Other matters from the meeting: Ann Sheffield urged members to consider entering
Spin-Off's "Save the Sheep" contest and noted that she had
brought the guidelines, breed list, and catalogs carrying fiber from rare
breeds for people to look at. Revisions and corrections to the contact information
in the Hub were discussed. The possibility of buying some new Guild equipment
(table loom, shuttles, warping board) was raised, but no decision was made.
A newer member urged people to wear name tags at meetings to help new members
learn who everyone is. The possibility of re-starting the Saturday Spin-Knit
group was raised. Sue Spencer volunteered to organize meetings; call her if
you are interested in participating. Sue Spencer and Nancy Washok volunteered
to bring goodies to the June meeting.
HIGHLAND GAMES MAY 22
Once again, our Guild will be demonstrating spinning and weaving at the annual
Highland Games in Edinboro (on the Edinboro University campus) on Saturday,
May 22. We will start setting up at 9:00 and demonstrate from 10-4. Admission
is free for demonstrators (ask for a vendor/demonstrator button when you arrive).
And, the more volunteers we have, the less time everyone needs to spend working,
and the more time everyone has to enjoy the Games! There is a lot to see -
bagpipers everywhere, Scottish dancing, Highland cattle, lots of Celtic crafts
and vendors, and the Games themselves, featuring burly men in kilts heaving
strange objects long distances! If you can volunteer for all of part of the
day, please call Bonnie Crytzer. Bonnie can also give you directions, information
about parking, etc.
The Venango Center Creative Development is again administering the Pennsylvania
Partners in the Arts program in our area, and they are soliciting proposals
for the next fiscal year. This is the program that helped fund our Rita Buchanan
workshop, so we know they are willing to support the fiber arts. If we want
to apply again this time around, the deadline is June 30. So, we will have
to decide if we want to apply, and what project we want to seek funding for,
at the June Guild meeting. So, please bring your ideas for projects, workshops,
or activities for discussion in June. Also, we will need a volunteer to prepare
and submit the proposal. The paperwork is moderate; what is mostly needed
is an ability to write clearly and persuasively about what we want to do.
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 will be on May 18. 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.
EARLY HUB DEADLINE
Your humble editor is leaving for England for three weeks on June 25. So,
I will putting the July Hub out earlier than usual, and the deadline for the
next issue will be June 22.
EVENTS AND EXHIBITS
Through this fall, the Kent State Fashion Museum in Kent, Ohio is hosting
"A Dance of Light and Color", an exhibit of woven, brocaded, and
embroidered garments, some woven in India. The museum is located at the corner
of Rte 59 and South Lincoln Street in Kent, Ohio. To get directions or check
when the museum is open, call them at 330-672-3450.
The annual Great Lakes Sheep and Wool Show will be held Saturday, May 29,
and Sunday, May 30, at the Wayne County Fairgrounds in Wooster, Ohio. There
will be a llama show, sheep show, fleece competition, workshops and demonstrations,
and a number of vendors. For more information, contact Linda Reichert, Don47lind@aol.com.
Fiberfest will again be held at Lake Farmpark, Kirtland, Ohio. The "Forum"
(classes and workshops) will be held at the Lakeland Community College from
June 23-25 (Wednesday through Saturday). The "Festival" (show, vendors,
etc.) will be held at Lake Farmpark on Saturday, June 26 and Sunday, June
27. For more information, write to Fiberfest 1999, 8800 Chardon Road, Kirtland,
OH 44094, or visit their Web site, www.fiberfest.org.
RARE BREED PROFILE: WENSLEYDALE
In the spirit of the "Save the Sheep" contest, I intend to feature
some rare breeds of sheep in the next few issues of the Hub. This issue's
article comes from the LOCO News, the newsletter of the Lorain County
Spinners & Weavers. For a few years now, they have featured a different
sheep breed (some rare, some popular) in their newsletter. I will be drawing
on their excellent work again, but I would also like to call on Guild members
to contribute to this feature - do you know and love a particular rare breed?
Have you recently experimented with the fiber from some obscure beast? Write
it up for the Hub! It doesn't have to be a sheep breed - any kind of
rare or endangered critter qualifies. Send any and all contributions to Ann
Sheffield, email@example.com. Now,
on to the wondrous Wensleydale...
Breed origins: The Romans are responsible for the introduction into
Britain of the large, long-wooled breeds. Among these is the Wensleydale.
It appears to have evolved in the mid-1800s from the Teeswater breed modified
with some English Leicester blood.
Sheep characteristics: It is a large-bodied sheep, very similar in
appearance to its close relative, the Teeswater. Wensleydales have distinctive
blue-gray faces and curly forelocks. Both sexes are hornless.
Although it produces a heavy, lustrous, longwool-type fleece, the principal
use of the Wensleydale is to provide rams for crossing with other breeds,
particularly the hardy British hill breeds - Swaledale, Rough Fell, and Scottish
Blackface. A Wensleydale ram crossed with a Swaledale or Dalesbred ewe produces
the Masham, which has become a popular crossbred for wool production.
Fleece characteristics: Wensleydale fleece is one of the finest and
most lustrous of the British longwools. The locks fall in a mass of loosely-curled
ringlets from the sheep's body. At 8 to 12 inches in length, the staples are
very long and have a silky hand which is reminiscent of mohair and is pronounced
in finer fleeces. The average fiber diameter is 30 to 36 microns.
Spinning pointers: With its long ringlet curls and silky hand, Wensleydale
is a most attractive wool. Because it is finer and softer than many longwools,
it is extremely versatile and en excellent choice for knitted or woven garment
fabrics. It washes easily, but when cleaning the fiber for spinning, it's
worth spending extra time to preserve the lock structure as much as possible.
Tangled locks will add considerably to preparation waste and time. Dyed colors
have particular depth and brilliance because of the wool's excellent luster.
Parallel preparation methods such as flick-carding, combing, and drum-carding
will tend to enhance the luster, while hand-carding and picking will produce
a lighter, less lustrous yarn that still has a silky hand. Very long fleeces
may be difficult to spin from hand-carded rolags, because the long fibers
will tangle easily. Keep the rolags loose and airy to help overcome this problem.
Drafting method, along with preparation technique, determines which characteristics
of the fleece will be captured in the yarn. A parallel preparation and short
draw produce a smooth shiny yarn, with little loft. A parallel preparation
with a long draw makes a fluffier yarn. With a non-parallel preparation (such
as carded rolags or picked fleeces), luster is substantially diminished. All
soft to moderately twisted yarns will feel silky and flexible. Firm twist
results in a yarn with extraordinary strength, but which also tends to be
hard, wiry, and dense.
Wensleydale alone has little elasticity but it can be blended with Corriedale.
It lacks luster, but gives good loft and elasticity for knitting. Use three
plies and spin the singles very lightly to enhance the loft and softness.
Sources: "Conservation of Rare Sheep Breeds" by Barbara
L. Anderson, Sheep! magazine, Nov. 1993; "Fiber Basics: Sleek, Strong,
& Relatively Fine: Wensleydale" by Jane Fournier, Spin-Off, Fall
-Roni Rospert, LOCO News, March 1999