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"The HUB" Vol. XX, No. 3
Bimonthly newsletter of May - June 1999


June 5, 1999, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Edinboro Borough Building, Edinboro, PA


Did you know there might have been weaving 27,000 years ago? Recent research using carbon dating has shown imprints of woven material from that long ago. In this program, Guild member Matilda Murphy will trace the history of weaving through the years. Some of her information comes from a seminar she recently attended.

Come and discover interesting facts and trivia about the art of weaving through the ages!


Board Meeting, all welcome 9:00
Coffee, conversation 9:30
General Meeting 10:00
Program 11:00


From Fleece Facts, the newsletter of the Canton Weavers and Spinners Guild:

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 t-i-m-e?

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 hot.

-Jane Patrick


Treasurer's report:

Checking balance: $3003.40
Savings balance: $1480.94


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 meeting.

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.


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.


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.


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,

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,


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, 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 1995.

-Roni Rospert, LOCO News, March 1999

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