Stringtopia 2012: Class Descriptions, other updates

Shelly and I are just thrilled by all the excitement we’re hearing about Stringtopia 2012! We’re working on getting the registration forms ready to go and really starting to feel the spirit of things coming along.

So, let’s start by giving you the class descriptions. Let me just say that this class lineup knocks my socks off and I cannot believe how lucky we are to be able to bring all of this together for one event, and do it with a schedule that means you can take everything a single teacher offers, or mix and match to create your own weekend experience that features all three teachers, or even just take one single class. In fact, the only problem we outright failed to solve here is how to be in more than one place at a time, so that everyone could take all the classes and the instructors could take eaach other’s classes too. We’re open to ideas for solving that one in the future.

ABBY FRANQUEMONT

All Spindles, All Day
For all spinning skill levels including absolutely none. Even if you already spin, or spin with spindles, there’s something here for you. We’ll cover finger twisting, thigh spinning, stick spinning, multiple types of spindles, plying your yarn, how to finish your yarn and get it ready for use, and we’ll spend in-depth time on a variety of exercises
aimed at increasing your spindle skills. Spinning while walking, standing, sitting, talking, team spinning, spindle races, spinning blind, and a selection of tricks guaranteed to amaze your friends (well, maybe only if they spin) will be covered. Two basic spindles and fiber will be provided, but please bring any spindles you love and any spindles you hate. You will also receive personalized feedback on your specific spindle goals.
Materials: $30 per person, includes 2 spindles, fiber

The Rut Buster
Are you stuck in a comfort zone you can’t escape? No matter what you do, do you just keep ending up spinning the same yarn over and over again? Is it you, or the equipment, or the fiber that makes that happen? What else is out there? Is it overload when you even try to think about what to try next? Are you stuck with stash you don’t dare spin because
you’re afraid you’ll ruin it because you’ll just do what you’ve always done? Did you hit a wall working towards a specific goal? Do you just want someone to make you try something new, that you never would have thought of, that you can’t make yourself try, that might push you to a new level you didn’t expect? Well, bring it to this class, and we’ll take that on in an exciting and diverse hands-on seminar.
Materials: $10 covers what I’ll be giving you, and the rest, you’ll buy yourself from Morgaine, to speak to your specific rut.

Getting More Done With Spindles
For those who already spin with spindles a little or a lot, for wheel spinners who want to know how to make the spindle more productive, this class is just the ticket. Learn where your personal bottlenecks are, learn techniques to speed up various spindle tasks, learn to spin various kinds of yarn and different fibers. Students are encouraged to bring
spindles they love and spindles they hate. Two basic spindles and fiber will be supplied. Not for the absolute beginner.
Materials: $25 includes 2 spindles, fiber

Truth Or Dare
And a few other arguably juvenile party games – except with spinning. Do you have a secret spinning shame, and you want to admit it and find a way past that? Or maybe a pet peeve that nobody understands, and you want to work through it? Are you afraid to try spinning something totally unlike your personality? What spinning thing wouldn’t you even try unless someone double-dog-dared you? I have a few ideas up my sleeve. This class grew out of informal things that happen before and after classes at retreats and festivals, combined with in-class exercises that people find themselves coming back to for years to come. For years, people have said “I wish there were a whole class in doing this variety of stuff,” and so now, there is.
Materials: $10 covers what I’m bringing, and the rest you can buy from Morgaine.

BETH SMITH

Beth Smith has built a strong and loyal following who know her and her world-class fiber shop, The Spinning Loft in Howell, Michigan, as the go-to resource for specialty wools for handspinning. A passionate advocate for greater understanding of all the possibilities offered by many types of wool, Beth has spared no effort to study with master
spinners from all over the world. She brings together a deep and complex understanding of many spinning traditions with a clear sense of the contemporary spinner’s goals, questions, and options. Beth has taught at TNNA, New York State sheep and Wool Festival (Rhinebeck), Spin Off Autumn Retreat as well as the Michigan Fiber Festival.

Breed Study
In this class we will start with an overview of wool breeds and their classifications. We will learn how to wash wool to maintain the lock structure, wash lock by lock as well as washing in small batches. In addition we will have an opportunity to try a variety of processing tools. Each tool will be used to its best ability and on the appropriate fiber. Students can then take their new knowledge to experiment and find out their favorite processing methods. We will combine each processing method with different spinning techniques which will result in yarns for specific uses. We will discuss yarns desired for different knitting techniques such as stockinette, cables and lace as well as how to design a yarn for weaving. Several breeds from each class will be sampled including Fine Wools, Long Wools and Crossbred, Down and Down Types as well as the category fondly called Other in which certain breeds which are difficult to classify are kept. When studying Fine wools we will wash lock by lock as well as using tulle to keep the lock structure. Wool will be made ready for spinning using a flick carder and spinning it from the lock or from the fold. Long wools will be combed using hand combs and English combs. Use of a diz will be shown and wool top will be spun. We will also pull fiber from the comb without a diz as well as spin directly from the comb. Down breeds will be processed using several hand carding methods and a drum carder will be used for batt making. Traditional doffing methods will be used as well as using a diz to make roving. In the other category we will be processing using no tools. Icelandic fits in this category and students will separate coats by hand and spin them just as they are after separation. Jacob will also be processed by hand by pulling the locks apart until the wool is in a cloud style prep and then students will spin just from that cloud. This class takes the mystery out of the question “what wool when?”.
* Students should bring a spinning wheel in good working order or a spindle they are comfortable with for a variety of yarns. A flick, hand combs and hand cards will be used in class. Student should bring any tools they have. A few of each will be available to loan during the class.
Materials for your own breeds book will be provided for each wool we will spin in class.
Materials Fee: $65 includes carefully selected specialty and rare fleeces, use of some loaner tools

Spinning for Lace
This class will get you spinning finer than you thought possible. You’ll learn the mechanics of spinning lace – wheel set up, type of draw, ratios and ply for the lace you want to make. We’ll also look at the wide range of fibers we can use for spinning laceweight yarns including mill preps and lace yarns from raw fleece, from the finest of fibers like cashmere to wools you never would have thought of for lace. You’ll learn how different fiber preps will give different results, and how to best utilize those hand combs and blend fibers on your handcards. This is a really fun class. Bring some of your smaller needles in case of a need for swatching!
*You should bring a spinning wheel in good working order, three bobbins, a lazy kate, and combs, cards and a flick if you have them. If you don’t have them a few will be available in class to borrow.
Materials Fee: $30

Drafting Methods
Woolen? Worsted? Semi-woolen? What is it and how do you do it and what kind of yarn does it make? This class will answer all of your questions and teach you 5 different drafting method – short forward draw, short backward draw, supported long draw, and long draw. You’ll also learn which method of drafting will give you the type of yarn you want for your knitting or weaving project.
* Participants should bring with them: A Spinning Wheel in good working order and at least 3 bobbins as well as a lazy kate and niddy noddy. Also useful are hang tags, and a pen.
Materials Fee: $15

For The Love Of Longwools
The Longwools category of wool sometimes gets a bad rap. Ask around to people if you happen to have some Masham or Lincoln or Wensleydale hanging around what it’s good for. Most people will say it’s too scratchy and is really only good for upholstery or carpets. Well, sure it is good for both of those things if you spin it for those purposes BUT there is so much more to this category. It makes wonderful lace that really shows off all of those important holes. It is great for outerwear because it pills so much less than other shorter stapled fibers. It is great for anything you want to wear well and have some luster and sometimes you can build in a beautiful halo. This class will focus on spinning wools with a 5”staple or longer to get the yarn you want. Yarns can range from drapy to wiry and everything in between. We will learn how to get this fiber to do the things you want. We could even get a lovely scarf for your sensitive neck if you choose and prepare your fleece right. We will use mill prepped fibers as well as raw fleece, compare, contrast, and talk about what benefit there is to processing your own longwool fleece. We will focus on processing and spinning techniques that will bring out the best in these wools.
* Participants should bring with them: _A Spinning Wheel in good working order, hand combs and a sample size niddy noddy. Also useful are hang tags, and a pen.
Materials Fee: $15

SARA LAMB

Sara Lamb is a well-known fiber artist and teacher in weaving, dyeing, and spinning. She has written for Handwoven and Spin-Off magazines and contributed to the books All New Homespun Handknit, Colorworks, Handspun Treasures from Rare Wools, and Homespun Handknit. She lives in Grass Valley, California.

Weekend Theme: All Silk All The Time: Knitting, Weaving, Dyeing and Spinning.

Bring your yarn, handspun or otherwise, and we will plan and samplefor a project (or two! or three!). Instructor will bring samples, examples, clothing, yarns, instructions, books, all kinds of resources, and 20 years of opinions.

Friday all day: knit with silk (bring needles), and your own silk yarn, be it handspun or millspun.
Saturday all day: weave with silk (bring a loom if you can, we will have a loom to set up and start a class sample. Everybody weaves!). You’ll want silk yarn for weaving it (20/2 is nice), and if you don’t have it, you can shop for it onsite.
Sunday morning: dyes, dyeing and all about silk Bring your own silk to dye, or you can buy some from Morgaine.
Sunday afternoon: spin that silk. Morgaine will have all manner of silks to try, or bring yours from home. Wheels or spindles.

Materials fees: only what you buy from Morgaine.


Let me continue by giving a few updates on where things stand right now. First, much to our surprise, excited folks anticipating registration have already booked up all the rooms available onsite at the Golden Lamb. We were stunned when we heard the news on Saturday night, a little more than 24 hours after we announced teachers and class schedules. I mean, we were pretty confident we’d put together a lineup where attendees can’t lose (and all the teachers are jealous they’re not in every class themselves), but we still didn’t figure the onsite rooms would all go before registration was even open. So with that in mind, let me fill you in on your other lodging options.

First of all, there is the Kirkwood Inn, about 5-6 minutes down the road by car. They’re giving us a fantastic Stringtopia rate of $69/night for a double, $64/night for a single. The Kirkwood Inn is a nice hybrid of “regular hotel” as far as room privacy and amenities, and “bed and breakfast” for setting and meals. These rooms come with a buffet-style breakfast (a really nice buffet) in a historic farmhouse. One of the things we really like about having both the Golden Lamb and the Kirkwood Inn for Stringtopia is that people can choose between being on site in the middle of all the action, or having a down-to-earth comfortable place to get away from it for the night. Family owned and operated, the Kirkwood is a longstanding local business just like the Lamb, only not quite as old. But then again, the Golden Lamb is Ohio’s oldest continuinally operating business, so… nothing is quite as old.

Apart from that, there are a few nice bed and breakfasts in Lebanon proper, walking distance from the Golden Lamb. The one Shelly and I have visited is called Hardy’s Properties, and basically, they’re a family-owned block of three beautiful historic homes a short walk from the Golden Lamb. These would be a great fit for a group of folks to get together and rent a house, with a kitchen in it and everything, for the event. This is a true B&B scenario, with the addition of having the potential to enjoy having a kitchen you can use as you see fit. Al and Phyllis, the owners, are lovely folks, and Shelly and I wanted to do the first Stringtopia there but there wasn’t quite enough space to make it work. So we keep telling ourselves, well, maybe next time what we’ll do is make those the teacher lodgings, and stuff like that.

There are a few others in town, with the Silver High Manor one being walking distance to the Lamb, and the Hatfield Inn being a short drive away and in a country setting with jacuzzi suites and that sort of thing. In fact there are tons of interesting bed and breakfasts within about 10-15 miles, that might be worth looking into if that’s the experience you’re after.

Here’s a map of hotels in Lebanon. One thing you’ll probably notice is there’s not a lot of chain hotel action going on here. If that’s something you’re after, I would recommend looking for hotels in nearby Mason; Kings Island is a single exit down the highway (or you can take back roads if you enjoy that), and two exits down, there’s just about every imaginable kind of big chain hotel experience you could desire. These options, naturally, will require driving.

After the Kirkwood, my next pick for a hotel would be the Shaker Inn. It’s about a mile away, and you could walk it if you’re the kind of person who likes walking a mile or so. The Shaker Inn is a classic motel with kitchenette suites, locally owned and operated for decades, and whenever someone I know comes to town and for some reason doesn’t want to stay at the Golden Lamb, that’s where I send them. The Shaker Inn is the kind of hidden gem I always look for when I’m arranging my own travel, because I generally find if there is a place like this, it’s going to be a much more pleasant stay than a chain hotel unless it’s a pretty expensive chain hotel.

If walking distance is super critical to you (say, because you intend to have a few beers and stumble back to your room), AND you’re super budget conscious, then I’d recommend checking out the Budget Inn. I’ve never stayed there, but the word is it’s clean, good service, and very affordable.

There’s also the Knights Inn over in the fast food section of town and across from the Ace Hardware. This is a pretty basic hotel and I don’t know a lot about it, but I can tell you they’ve renovated it within the past couple of years. If you want easy-on-and-off-the-highway, and to be able to walk to fast food, convenience stores, gas, a cheap movie theater, discount supermarket, used bookstore, hardware store, Tire Discounters, garden shop, National Guard Armory, and the DMV, this would be the place to pick. I would not call it fancy by any means, but it seems serviceable. I wouldn’t be stressed out if my mother wanted to stay there. Of course, every so often someone likes to remind me my mother spent decades being a field anthropologist in South America, so my perspective may be skewed.

Other than the Hardy’s Properties, Silver High, and the Budget Inn, all of which are an easy walk, the Shaker Inn and Knight’s Inn are walkable if you don’t mind walking about a mile. There are sidewalks and whatnot. Any other option, however, I would recommend having a car, or planning to share rides with a fellow Stringtopian who does.

I think that’s about it for updates right now! Stay tuned! Registration is coming soon, and tomorrow, we’ll fill you on on t-shirts, totes, and the non-class events going on at Stringtopia.