More about Rhinebeck — lots of spindles and finally, a ball winder

Today, I’m going to show you all the wonderful tools that I bought from Golding Fiber Tools. My first top whorl spindle was from the Goldings, so many years ago. I still use it for plying.

Did you see that pair of spindles in the cashmere/silk yesterday?  Here they are again…


In the cloisonné of two cats, silhouetted in the moonlight, I see Amber and Indigo, together again. The silver filigree is just pretty but has no deeper meaning.

IMG_2679This is the ball winder of my dreams, made of walnut and solid metal. It’s quiet and very capable, as well as beautiful beyond all measure. I waited years for this to exist. I believe that tools should be made to last for generations, and that their beauty is a seed for the creation of beautiful cloth.

IMG_2672Back to the spindles again. A silver rose. It reminds me of a house called Mt. Hope; they had lovely roses, once upon a time. It also reminds me that nothing lasts for ever, so live for the joy that is Now.

IMG_2677Yin and yang? Originally, these spindles went home with my friend J., but she said that it was my joy in them that had piqued her interest, and when I asked if she minded that I ordered an identical pair, we decided that hers should come to my studio and that she should have a cloissoné spindle that suited her better. A few years ago, I had a birds eye maple spindle that I did not love, and it went to her in a similar way of finding it’s true home.

When we weren’t shopping, we enjoyed the warm day, admired many people’s handmade finery, ate Artichokes French, and had the best apple crisp at the 4H booth. The secret to good apple crisp is using a variety of apples, some sweet and some tart, some soft and some firm.

Ten days later, Hurricane Sandy blew in and changed everything.



From Rhinebeck to refugee

January is a third gone, and I am just getting around to posting the highlights from last October’s NY Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. You can blame Hurricane Sandy for that. I am still a refugee of sorts, because my place of work took a direct hit from the hurricane and we are nowhere close to moving back in. I work from home and I spend a few days a week in a temporary office across the river. It’s a situation to be endured, and I’d rather focus on hand spun and home made.

Rhinebeck 2012 deserves to be remembered, because it was a wonderful day, filled with fiber and fun. We have found a rhythm that works, visiting two or three “must see” vendors, and then poking around at our leisure. Actually, this is how my mother and I used to do it. I think it comes naturally when you become familiar with the festival.

My must see vendors are Loop and Golding Fiber Tools.

Let’s start with the fiber:

1 lb. of Three Ring Circus from Loop. This is one of my favorite color blends, so I bought it again this year. It’s black with Everything Else in it.


1 lb. of Smitten from Loop doesn’t have me totally smitten, but it will do for the plainer sections of Dreaming Myself Awake. I wish it had more neps and noils for texture.


4 oz. of cashmere/silk from Spirit Trail Fiberworks. This type of fiber is out of character for me, but the color is magnificently shaded and the cashmere ensures that the yarn is soft and very lofty. I’m going to need some plain accessories to go with the high-impact fabrics I weave.  As you can see, I’m using drop spindles with this fiber, which is still my best way to spin a fine, even yarn.


Hopefully this fiber, and the small backlog I have from past years, will keep me busy through 2013. I know there are other festivals, and I know I could always shop on Etsy for some beautiful art yarn batts, but I generally don’t. It would weaken the mystique of Rhinebeck.


Back to basics

This year’s visit to the NY Sheep and Wool festival was a return to the basics.  Years ago, before online communities like Ravelry created such a whirl of anticipation before the event, the NYS&W was just my annual shopping trip for spinning and weaving.

My shopping list was very short this year. I have not kept up on spinning the fiber I bought the past two years, so I decided to pretend that all my unspun fiber was new and exciting and not buy any more.

  • Pewter buttons for a knitted shrug
  • A Kathryn Alexander knitting project
  • Something new and different

And that’s exactly what I bought.

Spiral pewter buttons from the Rams Horn


The Doo Dad Scarf from Kathryn Alexander

Micro Kate from Golding Fiber Tools. Isn’t that new and different?  It’s a lazy kate for plying spindle spun yarns.

I also bought some Harmony Wood double pointed needles as an extra little treat. They are not artisan made like the products above, so I’ll just mention them and move on.

Yes, I am still weaving the Misted Hills Coat. I wove the better part of a yard today, and maybe, just maybe, I might finish the weaving this week.

I have also been spinning all that wonderful fiber from years past, starting with these Loop Spontaneous Spinning Clouds that I spun yesterday.

a fiber festival, distilled to pure joy

This year, my friend Jo and I spent just one day at the NY Sheep and Wool festival. The past two years, I chose to make a long weekend of it, arriving on Friday night and staying through Sunday. This year, concern for my fragile and beloved cat Amber kept me closer to home. aWe still had a long weekend of fun. Friday night, Jo and I dined with Nina and regaled her with stories of past years Sheep and Wool festivals.

Saturday morning, we left at the crack of 8AM, grabbed breakfast to go at Starbucks,  and arrived in Rhinebeck around 10AM. It was a cold, crisp morning, but we were warm in our handwoven finery. I wore the Misted Hills scarf, and Jo wore her gypsy poncho, made from bright squares of alpaca, alternating plain weave and Bronson lace.

I had a short shopping list this year.  Remember all the fiber I bought to spin last year?  Most of it is still unspun. It’s beautiful, but it’s still sitting there. How could I buy more? I don’t believe in having a knitter’s or spinner’s stash. I buy things when I need them.  Last year, I guess I needed too much.

I’m not sure why I put yarn for weaving and dyed locks on this year’s list.  I didn’t have a specific project in mind. I guess I was hoping for that sudden ray of inspiration that comes when I see yarn that catches my interest.  I have conceived and designed many a project in my head while standing in front of a shelf filled with cones of beautiful yarn.

I love the NY Sheep and Wool festival. It is so energizing to be surrounded by creative people. This is one place that we can be who we really are. People dress in their personal styles and wear unique and expressive clothing. It is the perfect antidote to the soulless and colorless muddle of blacks and neutrals that I see the rest of the year..

The festival is a homecoming, a gathering of the tribe. I saw many fiber festival friends–Yukiko, Nancy, Donna, Amy, Dawn, and Kathy. We had lunch (Artichokes French, naturellement,) with two charming ladies from the Utica region. We had our pictures taken by many, many people. We promoted weaving at every possible opportunity.

At one point, I almost bought a rigid heddle loom. It would be nice to have a way to work on a second project when my floor loom is occupied by a long warp. I just couldn’t do it.  All the rigid heddle looms had plastic parts. As Jo said, it was a question of which part would break first. For me, looms have to be solid and well-crafted. Like the trees from which they were made, their lives should be measured in generations, not years.

So, this is what I bought.

  • A Schacht cherry wood shuttle, snub-nosed and small, from Hillcreek Fiber Studio. Paper quills from another vendor in the same building.
  • An ebony wood nostepinne from The Rouge Lucette. I was really looking for a compact, all-wood ball winder, but there weren’t any. There never are.
  • Five Loop baby cakes to spin.  Where’s the fifth?  Already spun.  I know I didn’t need any more fiber, but this was my first chance to see Loop’s beautiful art batts, and besides, they are so adorable and tiny that I will have them all spun within a week or so…
  • Citric Acid, Alum, Logwood and Lac for the dye pot.  Oops, I already had plenty of logwood, and my alum supply isn’t as low as I thought. It was really Spectralite that I needed. I need to organize my dye stuff better.
  • An African market basket from a vendor in Building E.
  • A loom…

Yes, I did buy a loom. This is a double frame loom from Ed Haag of Haag Maple Farm. There are no plastic parts. It’s all cherry wood from his own land. How magical is that?

We left the festival grounds at 6PM, sat in traffic for a very long time, and we were back at my studio by 8:30 for a light supper of bread, cheese and wine. Yum.

Sunday, Nina came over and we shared our stories while we spun, knit and petted my Amber cat. Stephanie phoned us a couple of times from the festival. She had misplaced her map and just knew that we could help her find the various merchants that she wanted to visit. Of course, we knew exactly where they were!