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"The HUB" Vol. XX, No. 5
Bimonthly newsletter of September-October 1999


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


Barb Lodge will teach us to make three different types of buttons: crocheted, needle-woven, and wrapped. Bring:

  • a small selection of yarns, each at least 5 yds in length (any fiber, but nothing heavier than 3/2 perle cotton (or fine 8-cut chenille) - finer is better, and a lighter color will make it easier to see what you are doing.
  • some crochet hooks in the 3-8 (or B-E) range of sizes.
  • a tapestry needle (slender, not fat).
Board Meeting, all welcome 9:00
Coffee, conversation 9:30
General Meeting 10:00



Please add the following members to your 1999 membership list:


We are planning a workshop with Bobbie Irwin for April 15-17 (Sat-Sun-Mon), 2000. This workshop is suitable for all members: new/old, spinner/weaver. Using a simple frame loom, we will learn a technique for making extremely durable and beautiful rag rugs. We'll explore several warping and patterning techniques while we work on potholder samplers. Making these small samplers will give us the expertise to make full sized rugs later. Each participant will work at his/her own pace to complete 2-5 samplers. The sampler frames and first warp will be provided by Bobbie at a cost of $5 each. We have again been awarded a grant (for $400) from PPA*, and are therefore able to offer this workshop at a cost of only $60 to participants.

The sign up deadline is Feb 1 for members of the Northwest PA SWG; after Feb. 1, registration will be opened to non-members. The final sign up deadline will be March 1. The class is limited to 20 participants.

*This project was made possible through Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts (PPA), a local decision-making program of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency. PPA is administered in this region by the Venango Center for Creative Development. Barb Lodge submitted the grant application on behalf of the Guild.


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 meetings will be on September 21 and October 19. 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.


Treasurer's report:

Checking balance: $1090.10
Savings balance: $1480.94


Bonnie Crytzer discussed plans for the upcoming Forest Fiber Festival. She had posters available and asked people to take and post them. Flyers about the Festival will be distributed at the Crawford and Venango County Fairs. So far, seven vendors have signed up for the Festival. Sue Spencer added that she has maps of NW PA and brochures on Two Mile Run park and its facilities; members are welcome to take them.

Bonnie added that we have rented one pavilion; we don't really need the second one, which would cost an additional $75/day. Two vendors will set up in the Pavilion, and the Mercer Guild will hold an all-day dye workshop there. We will need to start setting up the buildings and rearrange the furniture early on Saturday - we do not have access Friday night, and the vendors begin arriving at 7 a.m.! Sue commented that people staying at the Farmhouse will be on-site and can help. She mentioned that 5 of the 10 available beds had been reserved (by the end of the meeting, all 10 had been claimed).

The schedule for Friday preceding the Festival was reviewed. Joanna McDermot's workshop on knitting socks will begin at 3:00 on Friday. Joanna added that participants should bring "practice yarn" and a set of double-pointed knitting needles of appropriate size to the yarn. Any yarn can be used, but you will have an easier time of it if the yarn is smooth rather than highly textured. Joanna will talk about the best yarns for socks and how to choose appropriate fiber and needles, then help people with socks; she explained that all levels are welcome and she "will start wherever you are". After Joanna's class, the potluck dinner will begin at 6:00 on Friday evening. After dinner, Larry Spencer's dulcimer group will provide live entertainment. Anyone staying overnight at the Farmhouse should bring food for breakfast on Saturday.

The various activities scheduled for the Festival itself were discussed. Joanna raised the question of why we seemed to be doing so much - which activities are most important to us, and why? Which ones do we really want to be doing? An animated discussion ensued. Further questions were raised: what is our purpose, our "mission statement", for the Festival? Are there better ways to accomplish our goals in some cases? People agreed that two goals of the Festival were to have fun and to educate people, though we anticipate that we would have fewer members of the public "passing through" at Two Mile Run than we used to get at Cook Forest. Activities everyone seemed to support were: mini-workshops; door prizes; a Guild cookie/coffee table; a display of handmade items; fiber animals and displays. In some cases, alternative approaches were suggested; for example, rather than have a fleece contest, we might learn more if we had a Guild program on evaluating and preparing fleeces. We recognized that we were getting embroiled in this discussion rather late in the game, but it might be a good idea to step back after this year's Festival and assess what we want to do next year and why.

Bonnie explained that she has been approached by Drake's Well Museum. They are interested in having the Guild do a program on dyes related to the history of the petroleum industry; she needs to get back to them and get more information. She also said that the Venango County Fair has offered us building space to put up displays and demonstrate. The Venango Fair is "strictly 4-H" (no rides, etc.) and will be held Aug. 15-21. Bonnie asked for volunteers to demonstrate and provide materials for the display.

Elaine Fertig described the Guild programs scheduled for the rest of the year. In October, Barb Lodge will teach a workshop on making buttons. In December, our annual holiday party will have an "international" theme. Members who have traveled abroad are invited to bring their textile souvenirs to the December meeting. Perhaps the dishes at the potluck could have an international flair, too.

Joyce Rose announced that Bobbie Irwin will do a weaving workshop for the Guild next April. Ruth Walker-Daniels said that she and Sandy Volpe have talked to people at the Erie library about doing a Guild display there - the library staff will get back to Sandy. Finally, the only Show-and-Tell was Ann Sheffield's indigo dyeing experiments on colored fleece. Multiple dips of dark yarn in indigo give black, but moorit yarn gives a deep teal color.

Then, we had a picnic, followed by adventures in felting! Many thanks to Sue Spencer and her husband Larry for again opening their home to us, and to Judy Hanninen for teaching the fun and informative felting class.


Oh our Mother, the Earth, oh our Father, the Sky,
Your children are we, and with tired backs
We bring you the gifts that you love.
Then weave for us a garment of brightness;
May the warp be the bright light of morning,
May the fringes be the falling rain,
May the border be the standing rainbow.
Thus weave for us a garment of brightness
That we may walk fittingly where birds sings,
That we may walk fittingly where grass is green,
Oh our Mother the Earth, oh our Father the Sky!

[This Tewa song on nature and weaving was found in the Native American Exhibit in Colorado Springs Museum and published in the Gamp, newsletter of the Weaver's Guild of Buffalo. -Ed.]


The Butler Guild is hosting a workshop on Color Blending with Celia Quinn, November 9-10, 1999, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.:

"Create a beautiful, heathery spectrum of colored yarns by carding together woold that have been dyed primary colors. Exercises include making a color wheel; tints, tones, and shades of a color by adding a range of neutrals to a given color; complementary gradation; color dominance; and translating inspiring colors from objects or pictures into yarns that reflect those images. Class time is spent primarily hand carding and spinning."

Registration is $50 plus $15 supply fee for Butler Guild members, $65 plus $15 supply fee for non-members. The class balance must be paid in full by November 3, 1999. If you are interested, send a $20 deposit payable to Butler County Spinners and Weavers Guild to Amy Guggenheimer.

[Editor's note: I took this class with Celia a few years ago when she taught it for our Guild, and I highly recommend it! I'll bring my samples from the workshop to the October meeting so people can see what they'd be doing. -AES]


The 5th Annual Finger Lakes Fiber Arts & Crafts Festival will be held the weekend of September 18-19, 1999, at the Hemlock Fairgrounds in Hemlock, NY. The festival features many workshops, events, and vendors; people are also invited to just come and "spin, chat, listen, relax, or just be around those who do." (Knitters, crocheters, and other fiber workers are welcome to join the spinners!)

Two eminent teachers will be Special Guests at the Festival. On Saturday, "Mary Badcock, esteemed fiber arts judge, lecturer, and instructor will be here to share her expertise through demonstration and a workshop on felting 3D appliqué. On Sunday, "Rita Buchanan, admired and respected author, lecturer, and instructor will also add her experience and expertise to the festival"; Rita will demonstrate Mastering Plying and teach a class on How to Improve Your Spinning.

Many other events and demonstrations will occur at the Festival, including: competitions for fleeces, handspun skeins, and garments; a community indigo dyepot (bring 1 oz. of washed wool to be dyed in the pot!); and herding dog and sheep-shearing demonstrations. Kids will especially enjoy the many fiber animals and the "Kids Korner", where area guilds will provide hands-on activities just for kinds. There will be a "Fiber-to-Finish" demonstration - each team will pick a fiber ("anything they want"), prepare it, spin it, and turn it into… something! [Teams are invited to sign up for the Fiber-to Finish event; permissible finished items include "baby booties", so maybe even our Guild could finish on time! -Ed.] The Festival also offers the following classes (among others): Beginning & Advanced Spinning Techniques; Learn to Make Soap; Embroider with Ribbon a Sachet Out of Velvet; and Learn to Spin Angora.

The admission fee for Festival is $2.00; children under 16 are admitted free. For directions or more information email, surf the Internet to, or write to: Finger Lakes Fiber Festival, 3 Valley Brook Drive, Fairport, NY 14450.


This past summer, I spent a week of my vacation in the Orkney Isles of Scotland. I did not get to the island of North Ronaldsey itself, but I did pay a visit to the "The Woolshed" farm on the island of Mainland, where they keep a small flock of North Ronaldsey sheep. My husband and I descended on the farm out of the blue, but the crofter cheerfully showed us around and seemed pleased to show off her flock.

The first thing you notice about North Ronaldseys is how active they are. Most of us have seen young lambs on fine spring days gambolling through the fields as if they had springs in their legs. North Ronaldseys - all of them - are like that all the time. The whole (well, mostly - see "herding instint", below) flock charges from one end of the pasture to the other if they spot something interesting. Actually, "flock" probably isn't the best term for a gang of Ronaldseys. I observed, cautiously, to my hostess, "They don't seem to have much herding instinct." She replied, emphatically, "Their herding instinct is nil! If you put two of them in a field, they will run in opposite directions." I added, tactfully, "Shearing them must be a challenge." She responded, cheerfully, "Shearing them is absolute hell." She went on to explain that Ronaldseys are smart. She has devised various stratagems for catching them when it's time to be sheared or have their feet trimmed (at feeding time, they come thundering right up to her, but they're smart enough to know what a pair of shears or foot-clippers portends). Each clever plan works once - after that, the sheep are onto her, and she needs to come up with a new scheme. Another unusual feature of these sheep is their diet. On North Ronaldsey itself, the sheep are confined to the coast and have evolved the ability to live on seaweed. Now, when they are kept on grass, their diet must actually be supplemented with seaweed to keep them healthy, perhaps because they need more iodine than other sheep

But what about the wool? Nobody in Orkney had a fleece to sell me (and I admit I didn't look very hard after hearing that fleeces from North Ronaldsey itself are full of sand and seaweed and salt and "smell interesting"). However, I did find some mill-spun yarn, and I was surprised by how lovely and soft it was. Like many primitive breeds, North Ronaldseys come in a range of colors, and I ended up with enough white yarn from The Woolshed to make myself some socks, plus an additional kilo of fingering-weight yarn in a lovely chocolate brown color that I found in a shop in Orkney's capitol town of Kirkwall. Some of the brown is going into my "Save the Sheep" project - I hope the judges will be willing to overlook that the project isn't 100% handspun, but I couldn't pass up the chance to include some wool from this amazing breed. I'll bring samples to the Guild's "international" holiday party this December.

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