I spent last weekend at Olds College Fibre Week.    By the time my ankle had healed enough to be certain that I’d be able to do a whole weekend of spinning, I had missed out on one of the classes I was hoping to get into –  Dyeing for Spinners, taught by Caroline Sommerfeld.   I was put on a wait list, but was pretty far down, so I knew my chances of getting in were pretty low.  Thankfully there were still plenty of fabulous classes that weren’t quite full.

My first class, was Core & Tail Spinning (all of the descriptions are in the link above), also taught by Caroline.   This class was SO much fun.   We got right to work on corespinning, adding in extras like silk and shimmer as we went along.   This class made me what to corespin ALL THE THINGS.  I can’t wait to corespin that purple fluffy BFL with hints of silk in it that I drumcarded a while ago.

Unfortunately,  a couple of hours into the class, I got a really bad migraine.   I snuck back to my hotel room for some advil and I was hoping that I could get through the rest of the class with sunglasses on. However, when I go back to the classroom it became obviously clear that I wasn’t going to be able to make it to the end.   Thankfully, Caroline also gets migraines and understood, she graciously took the time to show me quickly some tail spinning so I could practice at home with the materials.

Here’s my bobbin from the class, with the tail spinning at the end, draped over the wheel.

SO much fun!

Here is some corespinning I started doing when I got home from class.   So pretty.

Shmooshy corespun goodness

They next day (thankfully my migraine had subsided), I had a full day of classes with Beth Smith , and yes, just in case you’re wondering – she wore her travel tiara in class.    The morning class was called “Going Steady”, and concentrated on getting a more consistent yarn.   We talked about how twist is just as important as drafting, and we practiced the “rhythm method”, instead of counting treadles.   And yes, there were lots of immature giggles when we talked about the rhythm method.   Basically instead of counting treadles, be aware of how many treadles per draft that you need to have to get the twist you’re looking for.   Eventually, you won’t have to count and just get in a rhythm.  So, essentially, you’re counting treadles, but this way it doesn’t seem quite as monotonous, at least for me.

The most beneficial part of the class was getting practice with different drafting methods, particularly long draw and supported long draw.   These have long haunted me and I was happy to get some practice with people around to help me out.

The afternoon class was called Woolen vs Worsted, which believe it or not, is actually a very controversial topic in the fibre world.   People have been arguing about it for many, many years and will continue to do so for many more.   Basically, it’s all about the fibre prep and the method of spinning.   Although some may disagree, the way I understand it:

A pure woolen yarn is one that is (preferably) handcarded into a rolag and spun long draw.

A pure worsted yarn is one that is (preferably) handcombed and pulled through a diz and spun short forward draw.

Please forgive me if you may not agree,  especially if you feel quite strongly about the topic.    Like I said this is my very basic understanding and I don’t even remotely claim to be an expert on the topic. I am honestly not particularly attached to any definition, and recognize that most of the yarns I’m spinning are somewhere on a spectrum.

The very best part of this class was that we spun up some samples of raw Romney, and then put them on cards to compare them.   On each card is a sample of a single, plied back on itself, and a triple ply. It was so interesting to compare them all,  I also spun from a cigar (rolled across handcards instead of up and down like a rolag), and spun straight from the combs.   It was tons of fun to practice, not worry about the outcome and just play.    Here is a photo of my samples:

I can’t wait to spin some more samples with both raw and processed fibre that I already have on hand. The best (and worst) part of the class was the handcarding (because I am completely awful at it) and the practicing different techniques like long draw.   This class definitely pushed my boundaries and taught be a lot.
I would be remiss not to mention the fantastic Merchant Mall, truly a fibre lovers dream.   It was so wonderful to meet the artisans and to just be surrounded by people who are just as passionate about fibre as I am, we truly are a unique group.   I was fortunate enough to re-meet the lovely Kate from Cowtown Knits (we had originally met through our community knitting group).  I was really trying to be good while I was there and not buy too much, so I behaved as well as I possibly could and only took home some lovely camel/silk by Westcoast Colour and Carding.
I came home with a bag full of fibre (from my classes), my heart and brain full, to find the newest Ply magazine waiting for me.   I was one happy Fibre Goddess.
My first Olds Fibre Week was a great success, and I would highly recommend it to anyone remotely interested in the fibre arts.   There were people there from all over North America, and I feel unbelievably grateful that this wonderful event is only a short drive from me.