Judith Says…

That’s how I preface any spinning question I get: “Judith MacKenzie says…” I have taken several workshops from Judith both spinning and weaving and she has been a treasure trove of information. Her stories are fascinating. She has traveled the world and given the spinning and weaving community so much. Her books and videos are the best instruction out there. I use her Mother MacKenzies Miracle Dyes for my shibori scarves.

I was shocked and saddened to learn that her fiber studio had burned to the ground on October 29th. She lost EVERYTHING: looms, wheels, textile samples, and all of the necessary things we use in our craft. The best description of what happened comes from here: http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/archives/2012/11/02/the_way_back.html. What is worse is that she had a house fire 2 months ago as well.

There is a site to help give back to Judith: http://www.rebuildjudithsstudio.com/index.html. I am donating what I can including a shibori shawl for her auction. My husband, a chain maille artist, will be making spinning wheel hooks for the auction as well.

Judith gave of herself freely. We, spinners, weavers, dyers, knitters and all, should give back.

Time Travel

I am a time traveler.

It is 1400 BC in Egypt. I taste the flax as I spin it into linen yarn. My yarn is fine, the moisture from my mouth smoothing the fibers as I spin the yarn for the pharaoh’s shroud.

It is 1100 BC in China and I listen to the hiss of my silk cocoons as they bobble and unwind their filaments in my pot of water. The silk travels to my reel where I wind the strands together and I dream of the lustrous fabric that will appear under my hands at the loom.

It is 100 AD in southern Ohio. The mounds have yet to be built. I feel the sticky sap of the milkweed stalk as I peel the long fibers from the skin of the plant. The fibers are rough on my leg as I thigh spin and ply the white fibers hoping I have enough to twine a bag to hold food for winter.

It is 1100 AD in England and I smell the fresh fleece shorn from my lambs. The scent is an intoxicating blend of sweet hay and warm life. I wash the fleece and comb the best parts anticipating the feel as I draft the wool between my fingers onto the spindle.

It is 1700 in Colonial America. I see the yarn change from cream to green to blue as I dip the wool in and out of its indigo bath. I see patterns appear under my hands at the loom as I dance on the pedals to the music of my shuttle.

It is 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. I spin my flax, reel my silk, strip milkweed for its fiber, and prepare my wool for the spindle and the wheel. I dye my fibers in indigo and use plants for other colors. I weave fabrics on the loom of silk and wool in patterns from the near and distant past.

I am a time traveler and fiber is my time machine.

Copyright 2012 Joy Selby Cain

Travel and fiber

Just because I am on vacation, does not mean I leave my fibery pursuits behind. I pack my Louet Victoria spinning wheel (it folds up so it doesn’t take up much space, really) and I usually have some kind of handwork, like knitting I can screw up and unwind a few times for the car.

I know what it sounds like, but I did spend time with my family last week in Galtlinburg. We did some hiking, shopping, stopped at Arrowmont (one of my dreams is to take classes there), ate amazingly well and spent time with my wonderful family. However, I could barely contain my excitement – on the map there was an honest-to-goodness spinning and yarn store.

Let me say first that I am in no way affiliated with this place. Just an ecstatic, enthusiastic customer.

Smokey Mountain Spinnery is located off the main drag in Gatlinburg. You have wind your way through a fishing store to the back where Nirvana awaits. Fibers of every type from Alpaca to Yak. Yarns on skein and cone. Tools of every description.

Each cubby hold fiber goodness in four ounce bundles
Even more fiber happiness
Clouds of mixed locks and magic batts with mohair, silk, and the kitchen sink thrown in.

Shops that actually carry coned yarns and luxury fibers for spinners are few and far between. I was weak at the knees and picked up merino silk blends, soy silk, a yak-silk blend, seine twine for tapestry weaving, small triangle frame looms and I had better not say much more in case my husband reads this.

Thems’ the breaks

Louet customer service rocks.

Saturday and Sunday I will be taking a workshop form the original Intentional Spinner, Judith MacKenzie McCuin on spinning Novelty Yarns. Judith is the Athena of the spinning world. Just being around her is inspirational and I could listen to her stories by the hour. So it was with great tears and consternation that last night, my portable wheel, my little Louet Victoria self destructed.

Now, the Victoria is a great little wheel. I took it with me on trips to my parents during my mother’s battle with lung cancer and spinning there with her in the room calmed me down and gave us time together. I will always cherish it for that time if nothing else.

I have had at least a hundred little feet on the treadles learning to spin and many larger feet as I let adults learn to. So when it decided to throw a tantrum right be fore the workshop I was devastated.

It broke in two spots. First the bottom of the footman split where the treadle connected tot he footman. I think that the grain of the wood caused the split and even Gorilla glue was not enough to fix it.


Then the spot where it attaches to the wheel at the top came out.

Footman Top

Most upsetting.

I called Louet this morning. Tammy and Connie in no time flat determined that the parts were under warranty and they would overnight them so I didn’t miss the workshop!