Monday, October 2, 2017

Spinning Flax and other plant fibers

The spinners this year have undertaken the spinning of "plant Fibers" If you're interested, let Greg know asap. The cost will be $20, and there's some good stuff coming.  How about banana fiber??  Or that cotton/milkweed down blend??

Their study began with a 2-day journey to spin flax into cotton with Stephenie Gaustad.  There was probably a little of the "act the way you want to feel going on."  Greg's friend  from Kansas City, who took the workshops, whilst spinning flax, repeatedly said, through a fixed smile and somewhat gritted teeth, "I love spinning flax." It's that love-hate relationship of a challenge, but on the whole everyone learned a lot and had a great time.  Stephenie is a great teacher...if you ever get a chance to take a workshop from her, do it.

Sharing their summer fiber journey,  check out these two show and tell wonders. Greg made this at a workshop in MN this summer. A Shetland fleece that is felted on one side.

It's kinda like a sheep skin but not. Could be used as a cover for sitting in front of the fire or on your bed....
Stephanie spun the many yards of these yarns and wove this rug over the summer at the Guild house. 

The spinners have another exciting years coming up. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

OPEN HOUSE September 10, 2017, 1-4pm

We're tidying up the place, laying gravel for a new parking lot, and inviting the community and members to an open house
Craig, Michael, and Lois spreading gravel
Come see what the Craft Guild is all about and see some of our fun projects and state fair entries.

The Pottery/Ceramics group display their wares,

 a quilter shares her mystery quilt.

A weaver shows her Krokbragd

A spinner's freshly dyed fleece ready to spin.
Everyone's ready, we have COOKIES. 

Weaving with Chenille, the Caterpillar That Becomes a Butterfly

When you see this piece, its hard to imagine Chenille being anything but gorgeous and yet weavers have a love/hate relationship with this fiber.
 Chenille in French means "caterpillar", that worm-like insect that becomes a butterfly. Most caterpillars are small, and covered wth short hair that give them a fuzzy look. Chenille yarn is quite the same, which is soft and fuzzy. Chenille is manufactured by wrapping short lengths of fabric, called piles around a tightly wound core, thus producing its softness and characteristic look, often having an iridescent look.   

Weaving with chenille can be a challenge in that if the sett is not perfect the yarn "worms", wiggles out just like a caterpillar. Experienced weavers say don't change anything, the tension, the way you throw your shuttle, or how you wind your warp. It is the sett and most suggest 12 e.p.i, weaving at 12-15p.p.i. And that ugly "S" word is mentioned often...sample, sample, sample.  Use your own judgement as to which you prefer. (
This year our guild challenge was to produce something from Chenille. These are photos from the challenge. All are luxurious, colorful and dynamic pieces.

This jacket has an almost velvet look and soft texture of velour.

There are no caterpillars here, only Magnificent Butterflies.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Grace's sheep...Baaaa-utiful

Check this out.  Grace just completed this darling sweater. It's such a cool treasure for some lucky child.

Now it's true that Sheep play a major part of our lives as fiber folks. As a spinner and a knitter, I'm often trying to figure out what to do with all the yarn I've spun.  Perhaps we should use this as motivation, or as an impetus to begin that new project. Grace can serve as a role model in how to produce something challenging and incredible. I must admit a little knitting envy at this piece.

Just in case you were confused about the guild hiatus, the evening knitters' group meets all summer long at 7pm at Panera's on the east side by Lucky's Market. Put July 19 and August 16 on your calendar. The daytime group does not routinely meet. If folks want to get together,  contact Linda and we can meet at Panera's at 2p, after the lunch crowd.  She said it might just be a great break from the endless list of summer shoes.  Yay, let's knit.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Summer Hiatus at the Craft Guild of Iowa City

As most of you know, the craft guild takes a summer hiatus during June, July and early August, however, there is still much happening. Knitting for the local Premie Project. (Check online for more information at, taking classes and watching demonstrations at the Midwest Weavers Conference in Indianapolis or at Iowa Sheep and Wool in Ames, sharing your passion at Local Spin-ins,  visiting Kalona Days where local Quilt history abounds from the sidewalk motifs to the Quilt Museums or a Summer of the Arts Festival, or simply enjoying the Iowa Outdoors.  Here is a montage of some of those activities.  Much more is available than could be mentioned here, but know that art, be it fiber, clay, fabric or paint lives on all summer long.  FYI: we are alive and accessible via email all summer and some of our work will be on display at the Coralville Library in August and at the Iowa State Fair.
(Thanks Stephanie for the photos.)

Sharing her love of Spinning at Davenport Spin-in
Knitting for the Premie Project. 
Iowa Sheep and Wool...Sheep dog at work
Learning a new Plying technique.
Weaving up that spun wool at the Guild House

Finding motivation for the next quilt
While a way a summer day turning this 

Into this.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Wounded Warrior Project

Spinners almost by definition, are kind-hearted and love to play with fiber. We tend to spin anything we can and then have the dilemma of figuring out what to do with all this yarn. And another times a project comes into our lives that we just HAVE to do.  This is one of those projects.
Susan and her Wounded Warrior Project

Susan, one of our spinners, was asked to make these slippers for a retiring Wounded Warrior. He has served his country for many years and was involved in more than one dangerous war zone. How do we can thank these men and women who have and are putting themselves in harms way?   As the grandmother of 4 marines, running into the face of danger is just part of their job; but they often come back with scars, physical, social and cognitive scars. How can we thank them?  While I know it was not an easy project for Susan;  it was one she was determined to finish. She was determined that at least one Soldier would know just how valued he and his service are.
Slippers for a warm heart

Thank you, Susan And many THANKS to your Wounded Warrior.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Deb Robson: Primitive Breeds and Crossbreds workshop

For Spinners- the virtual Encyclopedia of Fibers
Deborah Robson
 This weekend, the spinners were delighted to have Deborah Robson conduct two workshops. On Saturday, Deb presented the historical information about primitive and improved breeds, shared samples and the insights of each with those gathered. On Sunday, she continued our fleece study in crossbreds/purebreds.
It was humbling to be with Deb, she is so low-key, a skilled spinner and yet so very knowledgeable about the breeds and her craft.

DAY One: What exactly is a primitive breed? An improved breed? Thus began the crux of the discussion with Deb, a consummate researcher leading the way, addressing the criteria used, the data available and the confusion in the labeling of each. We were fortunate to experience, that is to say, feel, card, comb and spin the fleece from some of these breeds. In my former life, I spent a great deal of time researching Native Peoples, so the Navajo Churro jumped off the page of her handout. Navajo weaving has long a passion for me, but I must admit I just took for granted the wool I used. I understand the native practices embedded in the process of weaving and the sacredness of the sheep providing its wool, but never considered the historical significant of the sheep. So much to learn.
Day one: sheep to sample
Deb also introduced a documentation system. As spinners, we attend workshops and guild meetings trying out different fleeces or fibers. Only to think later...oh, what was that fabulous fleece Greg loved during our British Breeds Study and simply not have a clue. Record-keeping, or the simple making notes, clear concise storing of information that YOU gleaned from an experience is crucial. Yes, it's homework...Ugh. It's like the S word, sampling, Double Ugh. However, both are important in developing your skills and your satisfaction in your craft. I know of many a tine I thought I could skip past either of these, only to attend the court of regrets in regal fashion.

Purebred sheep...NOTE the smiliarities 
Crossbred...NOTE the distinct visual differences

DAY: Two

Purebred sheep are bred to maintain a specific size, color, fleece type, behavior and adaptation to their environments.
Crossbred sheep are bred often to increase a specific quality desired, whether it's increased lamb production, changes in muscle mass for meat production or in fleeces for the commercial industry, or simply to facilitate adaptation to a new environment.

sample fleeces of the purebred and crossbred

We had the opportunity to spin each of the purebred fleece and then its crossbred, i.e, Coopworth, Dorset; then Coopworth-Dorset. There was a definite difference in the feel, texture, or color of some, but in other, those differences were less apparent. I have not had the opportunity to spin each of my samples, but my hands are itching to start and I think I'm praying for outdoor spring chores this week. 

Deb demonstrating Navejo Plying

This was a weekend well spent. Deb was able to run the gauntlet of the very experienced spinners to the very novice with an expertise I personally found thrilling. I am that novice with much to learn, but I believe we all took away something of importance.