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Dear Chris

Dear Chris,

I bet you wondered, any time you read the birthday letters I wrote to Ed after he died, whether I’d write them to you, too, when you were gone. You never asked me, but I bet you wondered.

Well, so. There are ways that losing you is harder than losing Ed. My father may have been the cornerstone of my sense of who I was, he may have been larger than life, and he may have been the one I always asked for advice, but you know what? None of that could make him my mother.

You were the one I always wanted to make proud. You were the one who set the standard. You were the one with the image and the vision of what I could be, or should be. And I will probably never feel like I came close to measuring up. And yet now it all comes down to me to shoulder what I can of all your burdens and works.

I guess I have three songs.

You bought that piano in 1979 so I could take lessons. It cost the princely sum of $150 when the nearby high school was getting rid of it. I don’t even know how you got it to the house, though I would bet on your uncle Jimmy playing a role. I was in third grade and I hated to practice. I hated sounding like crap, when you would sit down and just play this. But as the years wore on I learned why practicing mattered and even if I never, despite years of lessons, practiced anything hard until I took up guitar, the sound of you playing this piece punctuated my life with you.

And for making me practice even though I probably never measured up, and for so many other things… I suppose that I judged you harshly.

And just in case nobody else you raised is thinking of playing you a song or two today, here’s one they should be singing to you… in a performance complete with incongruous set.

Thank you, Chris, for the way you never stopped trying. I miss you so very, very much.

I think I will have an ice cream sundae for dinner.



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2 March 1977

My father wrote:

2 March 1977

We passed a quiet day watching the rain and mud. I managed to get a couple of hours in practicing doing a Loraypu with both hands, that is picking up from either side towards the middle. When the sun finally began to shine, we sat out by the church and did textile things; some Huaman kids showed me how to do a new hakima “ocho-ocho” in the tanka ch’oro threading and Abby had her first lessons in weaving a cata.

I remember that as if it were yesterday; maybe better, in fact. My warp was yellow and black, the string tied heddles synthetic navy blue as were the selvedges and my weft. I also remember the days that followed and every mistake I made on that piece, that older girls picked out and had me do over. I was as determined to get that right as I was to be able to read without having to ask for help with words. I had two skirts to wear then, and the outside one was blue and shiny and I loved it. I remember the feel of that weaving in my clumsy hands and using a ballpoint pen for a shedsword. I remember how the blades of grass felt tickling my calves while I sat, and the change in temperature every time the sun went behind a cloud, and asking if soon I could have a needle for my hat since now I was a weaver. My nose was sunburnt and scabbed. My hair was tangled and so very very blonde. And my hands on this keyboard right now look so very unexpectedly old compared to the hands I remember having then. But they are the same.

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Dog Town

I’ve been sorting through papers and putting old field notes into chronological order, when time permits. This morning, I found a single page in my mother’s handwriting, tucked into a book of field notes from 1977. I’m transcribing it here in full because I’m thinking a lot about my parents right now; in the next few days, I’ll weather both my mother’s birthday, and the tenth anniversary of my father’s death.

Here it is: a field note of my mother’s from 1977.


When a person dies, his soul begins to journey over a very difficult and rocky oad. After much difficulty, he arrives at the village of the spirits of dogs, which is on the edge of a wide and raging river. He cannot hope to cross the river without the help of his dog spirit helper, for whom he must search. His life in the Dog Town reflects his former life in that the dog spirits treat him as he treated dogs in his former existence.

On the 5th? 8th? day after he has died, his family try to do their share to help him across the “strait,” through the passage. They take his clothes and go to the nearest confluence of the river — in Chinchero, just at the bottom of the archaeological site — and wash his clothes. This helps to have the effect of allowing his anima and his espiritu to reunite, his espiritu being his essential being (which is in the Dog Town) and his anima being that which has flowed out from him in his existence on the earth — his acts — his karma, I suppose. This has a tendency to be left behind in his clothes, his house, and so on.

In fact, in Chinchero, it appears that when a head of family dies, the X is put over the door, but when a particular family branch that has been occupying a house dies out — 2 old people whose children haven’t been living with them, for instance — the house is abandoned rather than new people moving into it. It may even be dismantled to build a new house, but on DIFFERENT FOUNDATIONS. Once the old foundations and their former occupants have passed beyond living memory, however, it would seem that the foundations may be re-incorporated into a new house — after all, most of Chinchero is built on Inca foundations.

Anyhow — to the spirit still in Dog Town it would appear that his family spirits await him on the other side of the river where the road to “Paradise” is also easier — smooth, straight, inviting (I have not yet heard what the concept of “Paradise” consists of) — and finally, on this 5th or 8th day, whenever it is (this is long after the burial has taken place, which is relatively unimportant in all this, the important thing being the spirit passage — presumably spirits that don’t make it wander the earth, discontented, causing trouble, in half-human, half-animal forms (AUKIS?), scaring people to death, especially children. At twilight, the spirits out and abroad are only visible to dogs — who bark and howl, needless to say.

I think, perhaps, this whole process is shortened, less rigorous, for children — they pass more directly to the “other side” — the mourning is also shortened. It would seem that the Karmic principle operates in some form. Question: it seems that any spirit doing what it’s supposed to be doing stays in Paradise — any one that’s on earth is pestering people. Do the Quechua Indians ever see spirits as helping out on earth? Clearly they see reverberations for every act being done in the right or wrong way — these presumably bounce off the spirit world but don’t just have consequences for the afterlife but also more immediate: houses burning down, etc.

Chris' funeral procession enters the plaza next to our first home in Chinchero

There’s a poignance in all this which I still can’t quite find the words to describe. I’ve joked often about being the child of anthropologists, and what that means for how I see the world in which I live. I’ve talked about growing up in “the field” and all kinds of cultural and identity dissonance as a simple fact of my life. But I don’t know what could exemplify the crux of it all quite like knowing you’ve laid your mother to rest in a once-foreign world that became her home and called her one of its own. For my mother, it was always more than study; it was always personal, always real. And even so, she (like my father) chronicled a great deal, and urged me to do the same all through my own life: not with abstracted, clinical eyes, but as a participant observer who can never be detached from life.

As I go through piles of old notebooks, as I handle my mother’s estate, I feel like I’m washing her clothes at a confluence of rivers. It just takes a long, long time.

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Christine Robinson Franquemont, 1948-2013

It is with tremendous sorrow that I must formally announce the death of my mother, Dr. Christine Robinson Franquemont.

Having traveled to Cusco, Peru to attend the 2013 Tinkuy de Tejedores at the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, Chris arrived Monday, November 11, and spent time visiting with close friends and family and preparing for her role in the Tinkuy event. On Tuesday morning, November 12, 2013, Chris was found dead of natural causes in her hotel.

Funeral and memorial plans are being made, but are not ready to be released at this time. I will tell everyone more as I am able.

I miss you, Chris. I can’t believe you’re gone.

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Stringtopia 2012: Door Prizes, Goodie Bags

You knew this was coming! This year, as last year, we’ll be doing goodie bags, and giving out door prizes at the Friday Fiber Bash and the Saturday Spin-In. And all the best such things come from Stringtopians, including those fine folks who wish they could join us in person, but can’t.

If you’d like to send us stuff for the goodie bags, we’ll need 80 (!!) goodies. We recommend making them be goodies that identify who you are, and they can (and even should) promote your fibery business somehow. Or just be neat stuff. You don’t HAVE to have a fibery business to send goodies. Or door prizes. You can just… want to. Last year lots of our door prizes were from folks who were just sad they couldn’t come and hang out.

If you’d like to send us stuff for door prizes, well, those can be almost anything imaginable. People love love love door prizes and they’re a great way to show off your stuff and make people ooh and ahh and want to find out more or buy their own. And the same goes for it not having to be associated with a business. Think of it as being part of the fun.

We will, of course, list you as a donor and thank you publicly, on programs and online.

If you’re in for either of these things, we would need to have them no later than April 20, unless you’re coming to the event and it’s a door prize, in which case you can shove them in our hands while we’re handing them out. But goodie bag goodies, definitely by April 20 or there’s no way we’ll be able to get them all handled.

Interested? Email us and we’ll tell you where to send them. Please send one email to both and And of course, you can also post here to let everyone know you’re sending stuff.

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Stringtopia 2012 Registration INSTRUCTIONS

Stringtopia 2012 Registration is HERE. Here’s what you need to know ahead of time. Read this whole thing BEFORE REGISTERING; you will need to in order to get the link to register.

Here’s how registration will work. This is everything we think you need to know; if anything isn’t covered, please send email to BOTH me ( and Shelly (, and one of us will get back to you ASAP. You are also welcome to chatter about it on Ravelry, Facebook, and Twitter! Your fellow Stringtopians can be a great source of information.

Registration this year uses a shopping cart approach. When you connect to the registration page, you’ll see three
categories of products: Classes, Meals, and Extras. When you click on Classes, you’ll see a calendar with links to specific classes, by day and time slot. Below the calendar, you can choose to view the listings by teacher, by day, or by class length. You can add classes to your cart from the main subcategory screen you’re in (whether it’s teacher,
day, or class length) or you can click on the image to read the full description and make up your mind.

You will be prompted to create an account when you place your class order. You can log in with your username and password from here on out to see the status of your order, etc.

All class prices INCLUDE the materials fee for the specific class. Full day classes cost $125 plus the teacher-determined materials fee for the specific class. Half-day classes are $75 plus materials. In other words, the prices are the total, including the class fee AND the class-specific materials fee; what’s in your cart after you add it is all you’ll pay for that class. We wanted to make this as clear as possible because while materials fees are included in the price listed when you sign up, they are *not* included in the $125 (for full day) or $75 (for half day). Materials fees are determined by the teacher and cover the cost of getting you what you specifically need to do the class. Some classes recommend buying additional things as desired; that’s in the class description. Materials fees range from $0 (you’ll bring everything yourself, from a teacher-supplied list of things to bring) to $65 (for copious and costly materials such as hand-selected, hand-washed rare breed fleeces, book materials, and use of tools to process them).

We will check this on an ongoing basis and let you know if we find that this did happen, then deal with it on a case by case basis, but unfortunately there’s no way for the registration system to check that automagically. In other words, putting one Friday class in your cart doesn’t mean you can’t put another Friday class in your cart. Be on the lookout!

You will need to complete the checkout process to have your classes. Until you have completed the checkout process (whether paying in full now, or opting to pay only your $50 non-refundable deposit now), your classes aren’t confirmed. When you have completed checkout, you will receive an email notifying you of what you signed up for. This email is your confirmation email, but NOT an invoice. Deposit and remaining balance invoices will be sent STARTING ON MONDAY, 20 FEBRUARY 2012.

Your deposit is due within one week of your deposit invoice being sent, unless otherwise specifically arranged. If we don’t have your deposit in that span of time, we reserve the right to cancel your registration and let someone else have your class spots. We’d rather not and we doubt we’ll have to, but all the same, we’re saying that clearly up front so everyone knows what to expect.

We don’t need to know your specific meal choice now; you will tell us that when you check in at Stringtopia. However, we do want to know if you’re joining us for meals, so please add them to your cart if so. You can change your mind about meals right up until the day you arrive at Stringtopia. You are welcome to purchase extra meals for someone
accompanying you.

Extras are tote bags, t-shirts, and admission to the Friday Fiber Bash. We think these are fairly self-explanatory, and they’re all described on the registration site. You may purchase as many of these as you like. You can also decide to purchase them later, right up until 7 April 2012. If you can’t decide, we will likely have some available for purchase at the event, but if you want a specific colour or size, we recommend buying them in advance. And…

That’s right, there are freebies. If you sign up for one full day of classes, you get a free tote. With two full days of classes, you get a free t-shirt. With three full days, you get free admission to the Friday Fiber Bash.

after you have completed your registration, please place a second order through the registration site, selecting the freebies you’ve qualified for and the options you want. Then, select “check/money order” at checkout, AND PAY NOTHING, and we’ll have a record of your freebies, which we will confirm with you.

You have the option to pay in full via PayPal, or using your credit card (processed via PayPal, but does not require a PayPal account). If you would prefer, you can instead choose to pay only a $50 non-refundable deposit at this time. Payment in full is due by 1 April 2012 unless otherwise agreed.

TO PAY IN FULL, choose “Check out using PayPal” and you’ll be prompted to either pay using your PayPal account, or else by using your credit card as a guest. You will receive an emailed receipt and confirmation.

TO PAY JUST A $50 DEPOSIT AT THIS TIME, choose “check/money order,” complete the checkout process, and stand by; we’ll send you a confirmation email, followed by an email containing a link you can use to pay only your $50 non-refundable deposit using PayPal or credit card, followed by an invoice for the full balance due. These invoices will go out starting on MONDAY, 20 FEBRUARY 2012. If you are going the deposit only route, please do NOT send any funds via any means until you have received an email with deposit payment instructions including a payment link. We mean this so much, we’ve tried to make it impossible for you to try to do so in the check/money order checkout process. 😉 Do not send a check or money order without prior agreement. YOUR CONFIRMATION EMAIL IS NOT YOUR DEPOSIT INVOICE. If you have received a confirmation, but not a deposit invoice, BY TUESDAY 21 FEB 2012, please email us so we can look into it.

Your $50 deposit is non-refundable. Cancellation for a refund of remaining fees paid is possible up until 1 April 2012 (which is when we have to pay for the venue, tickets, and various things like that). If you find out after that date that you are unable to attend, you can sell your spot to someone else, and we’ll help you with suggestions for how to do that. You do need to let us know if you sell your spot, however, so we know who to expect at the event.

We think when you get access to the registration site you’ll find it pretty straightforward; we just want you to have advance information so you can have your plan ready and hopefully get through registration fast and easy. But if you do have questions, email us (, and we’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.


Go here:

and complete your registration. We’re looking forward to seeing you!

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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.


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 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 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.

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Stringtopia 2012

…is coming! Watch this space for more info to be released throughout the weekend, and registrations starting sometime next week, the week of February 13-17th.

Here’s what I can tell you right now.

What is Stringtopia?
Back by popular demand, Stringtopia this year is a 3-day event with a spinning focus, along with some weaving and knitting. It will take place starting Friday, April 27, Saturday the 28th, and Sunday the 29th, at the historic Golden Lamb inn in Lebanon, Ohio. Featuring classes, fiber shopping, and social events, in an intimate and friendly setting.

Who’s coming?
For starters, world-class fiber arts supplier Carolina Homespun will be in attendance, which means you can check out lots of stuff in person that usually isn’t seen outside of large fiber festivals or in a handful of world-class shops.

But of course there are also the classes. I’ll be teaching, debuting some of my groundbreaking new classes as well as longtime favourites. And the fabulous Beth Smith will be joining us from Michigan where she runs The Spinning Loft in addition to teaching all over the country and producing fantastic instructional content. Rounding out the teacher lineup is Woven Treasures author Sara Lamb, known internationally for her down-to-earth approach to creating all manner of fantastic textiles, and teaching sellout classes in spinning, dyeing, knitting, and weaving. Sara is bringing us a themed weekend of All Silk, All The Time.

What’s happening?
Friday and Saturday feature full-day classes, and Sunday features half-day classes. There’s also a kick-off bash on Friday night and a free spin-in Saturday night. You also have the opportunity to share meals at the Golden Lamb with the whole group, and spend time in the social spinning suite where informal spinning activities will be going on throughout the event — including ongoing demonstrations, Q&A, and an opportunity to try your hand at spinning yarn if you’ve been curious what it’s about.

What’s the full class list?
I’m glad you asked. Here’s the class lineup. Registration for classes begins next week.

Classes are all day.

Abby Franquemont: All Spindles All Day
Beth Smith: Breed Study
Sara Lamb: Knitting With Silk

Classes are all day.

Abby Franquemont: The Rut Buster
Beth Smith: Spinning For Lace
Sara Lamb: Weaving With Silk


Abby Franquemont: Getting More Done With Spindles
Beth Smith: Drafting Methods
Sara Lamb: Dyeing Silk


Abby Franquemont: Truth Or Dare
Beth Smith: For the Love of Longwools
Sara Lamb: Spinning Silk

What’s it cost?
Full-day classes are $125, and half-day classes are $75. You can take as many, or as few, as you like, and you don’t even have to take any to come and be part of the fun. Rooms at the Golden Lamb are $90 a night for a shared room ($45 a person) plus tax, or $80 a night for a single. Additional rooms are available off-site at the Kirkwood Inn, including a fantastic breakfast, for $69 for a shared room (about $35 a person) or $64 a single, or you can choose your own accommodations nearby. Chef-prepared dinners are $25 each, and a box lunch option (eat it in your classroom, the dining room at the Lamb, or take it with you for a stroll to a nearby park) for $10.

Stay tuned! We’ll be bringing you the detailed class descriptions, material information, and actual registration opportunities over the next week. We can’t wait to see you!

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So I went to Nevada City

…where I had a wonderful time teaching a customized 3-day Spinning For A Purpose: Being The Boss Of Your Yarn. I love teaching this class, partly because it’s challenging and partly because it’s never the same twice.

This was a particularly good time, because the folks at Foothill Fibers Guild were just fantastic hosts. The venue couldn’t have been better, the group of people were all fantastic, Morgaine came up with the Yarn-Vee so we could all have anything our hearts desired to work with, the weather was beautiful, the food was great, and there weren’t even any travel snags. I’m almost suspicious in retrospect, wondering if perhaps I left something behind and still haven’t realized, or nobody told me I went through the whole weekend with toilet paper stuck to my shoe.

I did take a picture in class, which almost never happens. I always feel, after classes, like I should have somehow managed to get pictures — and yet, I never do. I’m just too busy making the class thing happen and I forget. Once in a while I remember to snap a photo at the end or right in the beginning, but… never in the middle. Never any action shots.

Except this time. I got one. ONE.

Diane’s goal was this: “Make friends with cotton.” Here they are, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g.

Diane and cotton sittin in a tree

Last night, just a bit over a week after the class ended, Diane dropped me a line to let me know she was bummed to be out of cotton. The poor thing.

On the other hand, I did manage to take a few pictures of visiting Sara Lamb at the Magic Yurt which is her studio.

At Sara's yurt

Sara lives in Grass Valley, which isn’t far from Nevada City, and is a member of the Foothill Fibers Guild, so really, it was sort of like I was at her house already. It would have been silly not to go visit.


The yurt really is a fabulous studio space, but also, Sara is a fantastic studio owner. After my return, I was describing it to Beth, and we were pondering about how she does it. Beth suggested, and I think this may be true, that part of Sara’s secret is that she puts things away. While this is a radical solution to the problem of workspace chaos, well… it’s so crazy, it just might work.

But before we get too far down that path, let’s take a look at the floor.

Yurt floor

I actually took this picture for reference for myself, but it’s too interesting not to share.

But before I forget, there was this little incident wherein someone spotted a bundle of Sara’s samples — she’s big on samples, and she’s right — and found evidence that Sara has, in fact, woven twill. My phone camera and I were tasked with documenting this shocking fact.


As you can see — and as Sara said — she may have woven twill, but she didn’t enjoy it.

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So I just did this thing

…this crazy thing, where I got up in the morning and got in my car, drove less than an hour, ate breakfast at a nice breakfast place, and then went and worked all day, with a break at lunch. Then, at the end of the day, I came home to my house, where my family and I ate dinner, and now it’s a regular evening and tomorrow I get up and do it again.

Now, I realize that a lot of people do this all the time. In fact, I once did something like that all the time. But in my current job, I think it’s a first. Usually, when my work day is done, I’m someplace that isn’t home and will eat at a restaurant and end up at a hotel. Or else I’m at home and doing regular in the studio type work. So this was very different. I’m liking it.

Anyway, so what I was doing is teaching Andean backstrap weaving for a group of folks gathered together by Karren Brito of Entwinements, at the Weaver’s Guild of Miami Valley. It’s a great group of folks and everyone really hung in there today. Can’t wait for tomorrow. Also, it’s neat to be at home and able to do things like say “Ooooh yeah, I’ll bring that to show you tomorrow.”

Perhaps I will even remember to take a picture.