If you were unable to attend this year’s Midwest Fiber and Folk Festival, well…..you missed an amazing time! The family hitched a ride with me (Chicago, yay!), and we enjoyed a beautiful day at Six Flags Great America on Friday. The American Eagle is still my favorite roller coaster ever. Our next favorite was Buccaneer Bay, where you ride a lazy boat around and shoot at targets with your water cannon. Trick is that random spectators have access to their own water cannons! We manned cannons from outside and inside the ride, and it was very fun.
After that fun day, we split ways. Mr. Tiger took the kids down to Navy Pier to the children’s museum there, and I found the fairgrounds to take my first class. I got there very early, but there’s a great porch area with benches all along the side, so I sat down to spin on my Golding. After a while the coffee kicked in and conversations began with those around me. I met a fan (how exciting…I’m still blushing!), and it turned out that I ‘knew’ the gal next to me from Ravelry, AND she was taking the same class.
We let the wheel people hang out in the line, and dodged in just before class started. Stephanie Gaustad taught us how to spin cotton. What a lovely and gracious lady. She gently guided us through how to draft the cotton using a hooked stick, and then proceeded to the tahkli, which is a short metal shaft with a coin for a whorl, and is traditionally spun in a shallow ceramic bowl.
After an hour, we switched to the Ahka, which is a wooden spindle with the whorl near the middle. This spindle is semi-supported…..spin in the hand until the thread has integrity, then it can be twirled horizontally-ish by supporting one end on the thread and the other in your hand.
The third hour, we used a bead whorl spindle, which is a bamboo skewer with a bead on it (a special bead where the hole is larger on one side than the other). Stephanie says that zillions of these beads have been found in various cultures and it is just now being realized that many of them are spindle whorls instead of jewelry or trading tokens.
Stephanie so impressed me with her amazing stories, stupendous textiles (!!!eleventy!!!), and gentle spirit. She was able to guide all of us with little fuss into getting actual cotton yarn in no time at all. I would highly recommend this class to anyone who has the opportunity to take it. Being able to spindle spin is a suggested pre-requisite, as the spinner will already have the muscle control for flicking with one hand and drafting with the other. If you don’t have the opportunity to take a class with Stephanie directly, I suggest you purchase her video, Spinning Cotton, which I will watch and review in a future blog post. I purchased my copy from the Woolery.
My new friend and I purchased yummy smoked BBQ sliders for lunch, and scored a picnic table to eat and talk. Not too long later, Jacey Boggs comes by looking for a place to snarf some food before she needed to be back in class. It was fun to meet her, and I look forward to learning to make boucle from her at Wisconsin Sheep & Wool.
After lunch, I wandered around the market for two hours looking at the bunnies and buttons and felted things (and things to make felted things) and fiber (phooey, I hesitated too long and didn’t get any cormo fleece!) and fiber and fiber and fibery tools and books and books and DVDs and yarn and yarn and wheels and so on. Oh my.
I did restrain myself and picked up only a few things on Saturday. I finally got a ‘real’ diz, beautiful cherry with a green stone diz hook. And some felting needles (yes, I know, another rabbit hole….but the booth was just hopping with people learning to felt little flowers and it looked so fun. Gotta try it!)
And one can never have too many spindles! I wanted an extra to have around, since all mine have projects currently. Nothing fancy really spoke to me, so I just picked up a Greensleeves Bare Bonesie.
And remember I mentioned that the Tahkli is spun in a ceramic bowl, but I showed pictures above in a wooden bowl? That’s because I didn’t see any little bowls from the 4-5 people there selling ceramics. I stopped in to chat with my friend Catherine of Knitting Notions, knowing that her husband turns bowls. Sure enough, just the perfect thing! The ‘bottom’ of the bowl has an indent from the chuck used to turn it, but it is the perfect size and shape for the tahkli. Then when I’m done spinning, I can turn the thing over, and rest it all in the cup. Lovely!
After all this shopping, I went to pick up the family at the train station, and we all went to the beach of Lake Michigan to check it out for their planned outing there on Sunday. It was neat to see the water blend into the sky at the horizon, the sailboats, the crashing surf, and to be kid again hunting for cool rocks (um, I filled my crocs with them!!), and wading in the freezing cold water….rejuvenating for tired tootsies and legs.
More about Midwest Fiber and Folk in my next post!