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Ruth Schooley

I was heartbroken last night to learn that Ruth Schooley had passed away suddenly on Tuesday.

I never met Ruth in person, but for at least 15 years she was everpresent in my online fiber world — a world in which she leaves a huge void. Generous to a fault, positive, kind, driven… we will all miss her. My most heartfelt condolences to her family.

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Hooky, or Serious Business?

Allright, first things first.

The coffee is done and I have some so it’s safe to try to blog. It’s been a busy few days. Beth and I were talking Tuesday about how I’d be able to ship her some new batts around the end of the week. I think what happened was that she said I ought to just bring them up and drop them off, and then I said no, she should come down and pick them up, and then we went back and forth like that for a while, and next thing we knew we’d hatched a scheme.

But she totally started it. You can tell when you look at her that’s the kind of chick she is.

First, she was going to drive down Friday, with the kids, and then head back that night. We (Chad and I) told her we figured she ought to stay for the weekend and we’d all go to King’s Island, but alas, she had classes to teach Saturday, so that was out. But we continued to work on the scheme and ultimately, about 2:30 Thursday afternoon, she arrived with a 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son in tow… plus some fiber, spinning wheels, a little loom just in case, a few accessories and stuff. You know. Just the essentials for an overnight trip.

Like young Maggie’s wheel:

which of course looks totally at home in our family room, amidst Legos, Bionicles, the decorative bare playfield for Williams’ Earthshaker adorning the wall next to a giant speaker, with scattered items on the floor including a small trebuchet scale model, bedspread my grandmother made in the 1950s, and a Doctor Octopus robot arm which we acquired at Disneyland a number of years ago, and which Edward has used for every imaginable purpose to which a robotic arm might conceivably be put.

Allright, allright, so other parts of the family room sometimes look sort of like this.

You know, sometimes. Kind of. Depending who’s over.

Anyway, the Ladybug there is Maggie’s. She is 7, and an accomplished spinner and fiber person.

She helps her mother with many things around The Spinning Loft, and she’s been spinning for almost 2 years I think? I met her — as many spinning teachers have — while teaching workshops at Beth’s shop, and for me personally, it was really a thrill to meet her. While Maggie is almost certainly better behaved and quieter than I was at her age, I definitely remember helping my parents with fiber workshops and spending time learning fiber-related things at every opportunity. I remember that not everyone took me seriously as a weaver then (and by extension, spinner and knitter and crocheter and many other things), and that it was sometimes hard to have interests which no other kids participated in, while being so young that grownups often just assumed you wouldn’t want to interact with them.

Maggie’s totally a kid, but she’s serious and focused on her pursuits. She’s skilled and knowledgeable and aspires to be a spinning teacher, perhaps starting as soon as next summer. She wants to teach kids to spin, and this fall, she’ll be attending the Spin-Off Autumn Retreat as a scholarship recipient. She’s as interested in spinning as many kids are in Spongebob, Pokemon, Legos and the like.

She also makes Maggie Batts — from scraps and miscellany and samples — which she sells through her mother’s shop, and uses her earnings to fund her fiber pursuits (right now, she’s saving for another spindle). I was absolutely thrilled to be able to contribute to her Maggie Batt materials stash the other day, and get to hang out carding with her.

Her son Ryan came too.

Ryan’s a lot like Edward was at that age, and despite the age difference they got along famously. Everyone enjoyed the cats, and Kaylee out-cuted Paimei, somewhat to Paimei’s chagrin. It took Kaylee a day or so to recover from all the being-played-with — a day during which she was sedate and well behaved. The kids can come back whenever!

Everyone got to go feed the neighbour horses fistfuls of clover, and pat them on their velvety noses. When Ryan slowed down with the clover, one horse started nudging him in the head with her nose. Beth found a four-leaf clover; she says she finds them all the time. Me? I’d never even seen one before.

A few rides in Jeepy happened.

Just look at the carnage! And I showed Beth my favourite swift:

I think she might be trying to stock them in her shop. Oh, and I’ll have you know that while Beth did manage to find a picture to take that included not only a skein of Bernat acrylic but a Robert Jordan book on my shelves, it’s much more likely to see a shelf that looks like this:

So there. But it’s true: there is cheap yarn in my house. There’s a purpose for everything. I don’t recall why I have a skein of pastel ombre Bernat acrylic, but there was doubtless a reason. As for the Robert Jordan, I plead “airport bookstore.” Seriously though, the first one was fine. 2 and 3 were even allright. But since then, it’s as if 8,000 books have gone by and NOTHING HAPPENED. “And yet you bought them,” Chad always says. You see? I’m an optimist.

Anyway. There was much scheming and conspiring… and ultimately a spinning wheel hostage exchange.

Beth will be back next month to reclaim this (Lendrum Saxony) hostage from me, and when she returns she’ll be bringing back the Journey Wheel I let her and Maggie take with them.

Neither of these wheels is something people lend out! What’s amusing about it is that I have a Lendrum Saxony on order, and Beth has a Journey Wheel on order. So this is like a preview visit.

All in all, the question is, was this a day playing hooky — or a serious business trip? I vote “serious business trip.”

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HHHH Questionnaire

I’m doing the Hush-Hush Handspun Hootenanny swap. Here’s my questionnaire info:

1. How long have you been spinning? What skill level do you consider yourself?

I’ve been spinning for over 30 years and consider myself advanced.

2. What kinds of yarn do you create (singles/2-ply/3-ply/art yarn)?

Any type of yarn I want. Rarely novelties or art yarn.

3. What do you spin with (spindle/wheel/both)?

Any device for spinning. Mostly wheels and spindles.

4. What are your favorite fibers to spin with? Anything you don’t like?

I’m not a huge fan of synthetics, including the new synthetics like soy silk. Fine wools and silks and blends of that ilk are my faves.

5. Who are your favorite crack dealers fiber sources (etsy or otherwise)?

Amy, and Chasing Rainbows, and stuff processed at Morro Fleece Works…

6. What kind of fiber do you want to try?

I’m spoiled rotten. If I want to try it, I try it. 😉 In my defense, fiber is my job. I’m always interested in new blends and finding new folks who do quality work.

7. Is there any techniques you would like to learn?

I’m spoiled here, too. Right now I’m practicing Russian spindle techniques I learned from Faina Letoutchaia.

8. Do you dye fiber? If not, would you like to learn?

I do dye. 😉

9. Do you have fiber prep tools (and like to use them) or would you prefer ready to spin fiber?

Yeah… I have prep tools, and I use ’em. But I also like to spin other people’s fiber preps sometimes, just like eating someone else’s cooking.

10. What do you do with your handspun? What projects have you completed?

I do everything with my handspun. Everything. If you can do it with yarn, I do that with my handspun.

11. Are you in need of any spinning gadgets (WPI Gauge, threading hook, etc)?

WPI gauges, dizzes, threading hooks — all useful and can’t have too many. But I don’t lack for any either.

12. What colors “fall into your shopping basket”? Any colors you just can’t stand?

Love: Greens (esp. dark); burgundy; black; rust; brown.

Hate: pink (except sometimes it’s okay, in concert with other things)

13. What is on your wheel/spindle right now?

Batts from Amy King in CVM and soy silk (office wheel); Chasing Rainbows Merino/Tencel (slothing wheel); batts I blended in alpaca/organic merino/bamboo (on the Victoria packed for travel); Chasing Rainbows Merino/Cashmere (spindle on my desk); new Louet test fiber (spindle on my desk); batt samples (spindle next to carder); Peace of Yarn hyperfine 15-micron Merino (spindle by slothing chair); merino/silk top I dyed (spindle in my carryaround bag).

14. What other crafts/hobbies do you have?

Anything textile, pretty much.

15. Other than crafts, what are you passionate about?

Live music; ballads; history; Peru; books.

16. Do you have an online wishlist?


17. Is there anything that you collect?

Uh…. spinning wheels, apparently. Things that are Blue Moons (seriously. I have collected Blue Moons since I was 13). Odd fiber tools. Obscure out of print reference books, the older the better.

18. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What magazine subscriptions do you have?

I love Bryspun bendy needles, Addi circulars, ittybittysmall needles, and old (30+ years old) fiber tools of any type. Also handmade tools.

I subscribe to Spin-Off, which isn’t carried locally, but do not subscribe to any knitting or crochet mag that is carried locally, because I try to buy all those things at the venue carrying them, in hopes of making sure they feel they have as much market for textile mags as they do for magazines about rubber stamps, pinking shears, model trains, lathes, multimillion dollar homes, hopped-up Civics, and yachts. Any chance I have, I ask for the spinning and weaving and textile magazines to be carried.

19. When is your birthday?

Early January. 😉

20. What book or movie character do you most resemble in personality?

I have no idea. Is there one who’s arrogant and overeducated with a tendency to use big words unthinkingly, but would prefer to be doing so while drinking at a blue collar bar and in conjunction with extremely low-brow profanity, and whose hair is always a little unkempt, who would rather go blind than lose dexterity, always has too much to do, is secretly a neat freak but can’t find the time to make her life that way because she lives with other humans, is completely obsessive about her interests, and turns into a raving psycho bitch if her hands are idle, and tends to think the best of people even when it’s flagrantly stupid to do so? I think those would be the main things.

21. What is the climate like where you live around this time (need to know for careful shipments of anything meltable)?

Yeah, it can get hot and humid.

22. Tell us one weird fact about yourself!

Um. Hrmmm. My eyes match my hair. My hair is light brownish and my eyes are hazel. Somehow this amounts to the same colour in practice.

favorite painting/picture(link):


Chocolate, with nuts and fruit. But not raisins.


If I did the cooking, I’d live on stews served over rice, stir-fry, and things that you eat with a flatbread or tortilla variant. Since my better half does all the cooking though, that’s my favourite food.


Morning: Strong coffee with heavy cream. No sugar.
Not Morning: Beer. Mmmm beer.


To Have and Have Not. Hang ’em High.

TV Show(s):

Firefly. How It’s Made. Doctor Who. The news.


The Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Guilty Pleasure(s):

My father always said guilt was a useless emotion, but in the spirit which it’s meant….

Space opera (especially with badass chicks). Epic fantasy with badass chicks in it. Time travel and post-apocalyptic SF… uh, especially if there are, um, badass chicks.

Video games. Especially puzzle, strategy, RPG, and games of micromanaging world domination.

Sloth. I secretly adore sloth. I just suck at it.