Saturday, June 11, 2011

Spinning Seminar 2011

As usual, the Spinning Seminar at The Mannings was really fun!  This year, there were 7 of us gathered under a tree knitting (3 of us brought spinning wheels but just never totally unpacked them).  I failed to get a picture of the whole crew, but here are a few of us:IMG_9016 Allison is winding a skein of cotton-linen yarn she bought in the shop, Heidi is saying something wise, and Julie is looking sage in her corner.

Look closely at the cup holder on Allison’s chair – she brought bunnies!  These are so adorable.IMG_9001She makes them out of scraps.  The ones on either side are made of sock yarn and the one in the little is a bit bigger.  I looked in Ravelry for the pattern and didn’t find it right away (but let me tell you, there are some seriously cute bunny patterns in the database!).

As usual, there were some folks showing how flax is processed.  I’ve read and heard about this before, but it still boggles my mind.  I am amazed that anyone figured out there was a long fiber running stem to root in this plant, and that you had to control the rotting of the plant and beat it up pretty well to reach the fiber.  Here is a pretty good article that describes it if you don’t have The Intentional Spinner on your bookshelf.  The part we saw today was “breaking and scutching.”  Here is the flax brake:IMG_9002 You wham that part she’s holding down a bunch of times, and the outer part of the plant falls off (you can see a pile forming on the ground underneath).  Then you run a handful of fiber through this wicked series of hackles, starting at the bigger ones and working you way down to the smaller ones:


You grasp the handful of fiber and throw it down onto the hackles, then pull it through.  I should have taken a video, but here is an action shot:IMG_9006 Finally, you spin.  The stick holding the cotton candy bunch of fiber is a distaff, and the spinner dips her fingers into a bowl of water occasionally – you need to control the fiber a bit and water does the trick.  I have better pictures of this woman spinning flax from previous years – this year she was stationed in front of the A/C unit.


There was a nice exhibit showing how to dye different shades of red using natural dyes (cochineal, mostly) – look how many different colors you can get!IMG_9008 And another woman had a table set up to demonstrate how to dye blues with indigo:IMG_9010 IMG_9012 There were a few animals, including these angora goats:IMG_9014Sometimes it’s fun to just listen for a while.  This man was explaining that you can keep sheep and goats together as long as you don’t have unwethered (snipped!) males together.  When male goats get aggressive, they rear up on their back legs.  When male sheep get aggressive, they head butt.  If they are both aggressive at the same time, the sheep can really damage the goat. See, I didn’t know that before today…

There were some other exhibits listed on the event description that I never found.  I wonder if some were inside, perhaps back in the room with the spinning wheels?  I never made my way that far in – the shop was too crowded!

Thanks, Mannings, for another fun year.  We love the Spinning Seminar!


  1. I may have learned more information (that I actually wanted to know!) from your post than any other blog in recent memory - bunnies, flax processing, dyeing, along with care of sheep and goats. That picture cracks me up; I never thought of angora goats as lap animals! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Really interesting about the flax. And it looks so normally summery up where you are -- not like a post-apocalyptic scorched deathscape.

    You're gonna have those problems pretty much any time you get a bunch of unsnipped males together...