Wow, Fibre Week once again was a dream. I attended the whole week and it went without any problems at all. Lots of fun and I met lots of new, cool people and got to see smiling familiar faces too. Where do I start?
I traveled with two amazing women; Deb Behm and Coleen Nimetz. Lucky me, because I got to converse with experts in the fibre field, learn and laugh all the way to Olds. Deb, taught Master Spinners Level 1 this year and had a very full class. She taught me how to spin and has been my mentor ever since. If you are looking to read up on her, you can check her blog and she also has an article on twist published in the most recent Ply magazine. Coleen, who usually teaches Level 6 and is one, if not the one, of the leading experts on silk in North America. She also has lots of recent articles published in several magazines including Ply, Spin-Off and more (check them out).
The first few days were spent getting settled and pouring over my books (and maybe checking the market). The Wool Show was on monday and I was getting very excited anticipating the whole thing. I judged 44 fleeces in several different classes. Since this is the 3rd year I have helped out or have been involved in the Wool Show, I had an idea of the types of breeds I would find there but cross breeds always force me to think just a little bit harder and there was one fleece in particular that made me laugh to myself because it was such a mix; it was a Romanov, Suffolk, Cotswold, Jacob cross. So, that means its a primitive breed, that is double coated, which also has characteristics of down breeds AND long wools. Yeah. It made the cogs in my head turn a little more then they are used to. It was a lovely fleece and it won a first place ribbon in its class. There were beautiful Shetland fleeces, Dorset, Corriedale, Jacob and BFL. Cotswold, Arcott, Suffolf, Tunis, Cheviot and crosses of each and every one in between. My friend Val Fiddler from Wooly Wool of the West and co-coordinator of the sheep show at The Grasslands Sheep Exhibition in Drake won Grand Champion for her BFL fleece! So if you are looking for some really good fleeces you know where to turn. She also has Black Welsh, Corriedale, Cotswold and more in her flock.
There was a Cotswold fleece from Manitoba producer Gerry Oliver, that was absolutely stunning. It scored only a one mark less than the BFL pictured above. When I flipped the fleece over to look at its lustre, the people in the audience gasped at its shine! Below is a gallery of pictures from the show and the auction. Sorry about the poor quality of some of them, the fluorescent lighting in the building wasn't ideal for photos.
The auction is always a very stressful time. My hands were shaking by the end of it and I wasn't even bidding on anything! You can see the love for fibre right here and I did enjoy seeing some very excited faces once the time was called.
Once the show was over I got to relax a bit. As some of you know, Kim from The Wacky Windmill and her lovely minion Donna were there. Two of my favourite people <3 I got to spend lots of time with them, especially Donna and I hovered around their booth for the majority of the time the market was open. I came home with a couple items; Alpaca/Merino/Silk in the "Kiss This" colourway, Merino/Cashmere/Silk "Remember That Time..." (luxury!) and a skein of superwash Merino in "The Hollow" colourway which I won in one of Kim's KAL's recently. I also coudn't go home without some Painted Desert yarn from Pam's Wooly Shoppe, a travel niddy noddy and some fabric from"The Quilting Bee" (in the town of Olds) which I have no clue what I will do with it. Every year students receive a fibre week tote, that is different every year. Donna also made me this lovely project bag which had a lavendar sachet and handmade lavendar soap inside! Have I ever mentioned how wonderful Donna is?
I may have also come home with a Suffolk X fleece..... maybe
I read an article about a spinning wheel collection donated to the Olds Museum and had to go check it out while I was there. Donna and I went and saw over 45 wheels that had belonged to a man who's goal was to open a museum with them. Among all the very unique and cool wheels were also over 20 drum carders, distaffs, mirrors, spinning wheel parts and also his anvil collection and other oddities. It is quite amazing all the different styles of wheels he had, in all shapes and sizes. Many of them still work including one that had been charred in a fire. There were a couple wheels on display during Fibre Week at the college. All of these wheels are being restored and photographed by a professional photographer and will be put up for auction in the very near future. Some of them are already being added to the museums website and if you are looking to purchase any of these wheels, you can find out all the information you need here. Click on the pictures in the gallery below to get a sneak peak on what wheels will be available.
As usual there are always social events in the evenings and I attended all of them. There was a pub night on Monday, Spin-in on Tuesday and the Fashion Show on Wednesday followed the Fleece and Silent Auctions. An item of Deb's that was in the show was her handspun/handkint cotton sweater which was featured in one of Kate Larson's articles in Spin-Off. Zach Webster, who is the new Program Co-ordinator even tried his hand at spinning during the Spin-In. Looks like he loved it.
I did get my spinning projects finished while I was there. I spun 5 skeins; Shetland, SW Merino/Nylon, Corriedale, Romney and SW Merino/Cashmere/Nylon. I will be listing these skeins for sale in my shop if you are interested.
And what would a blog post about Olds College be without several beautiful photos of the campus grounds? Enjoy
And while I was in the wetlands, there were other photographers there taking pictures, look at this amazing one!
On the last day of Fibre Week, there was a plant sale. How could we say no? If you've ever thought about attending, I strongly suggest you come next year. Fibre Week 2015 will be June 19 - 26, see everyone again next year!!
I am heading off to Olds College on Saturday for my favourite time of the year; Fibre Week. This trip in the past has been filled with classes, wool shows, shopping, relaxing, knitting and spinning. I get to surround myself with everything I love most and spend the week in a dream state. I am on partial business this year as I have been hired a Wool Judge for the Custom Woolen Mills fleece show and sale. I have been wanting to do this since I took the wool judging course at Olds in my first year there. Since that time I have judged fleeces in all 3 prairie provinces. I am very proud of myself for that. I have always been an advocate for education and each fleece is a new learning experience. There is a lot to learn with wool and thats one of the many reasons I love it so much.
In my Tom Bihn Swift I am bringing (from left to right):
- Ball Winder for plying
- Crochet shawl WIP (almost finished)
- Skein of Falkland handspun for a new shawl
- Knitting shawl WIP (almost finished)
- Interchangeable needles
- Notions pouch
- Niddy noddy
- 5 braids of fibre - hoping to spin one skein a day on my wheel (Corriedale, Romney, Merino/Cashmere/Nylon, BFL/Nylon, Shetland
- Spindle WIP - spinning 3 cops on my Malcolm Fielding Interchangeable spindle, to 3 ply and make sock yarn. Fibre is an alpaca/merino/nylon blend from Twisted Sisters (bought at Olds) This is the second cop almost finished.
- Bare spindle for the spin-in - Tabachek Mini
- Bare supported spindle Miss Lucy Tibetan
- Kromski Travel Wheel (not pictured)
Wow, what a great weekend! I planned to post everyday but by the end of the day I was so tired I fell asleep as soon as I sat down. This will be mostly a picture post with a little bit of commentary.
As you can see the grounds are beautiful. Although there has been terrible flooding in Alberta during this time, the rain helped make these grounds even more lush (although the mosquitoes were relentless).
Jeremy found a really cool wetland area on the college grounds that has a great walking path that lead up to a gazebo that would be a great spot to relax and read a book (or knit).
There are also barns on campus, we visited the horses and their babies <3
One thing that could be good or bad depending on how strong your will power is... there are always items for sale, at really great prices and available everywhere you look. This spinning wheel was for sale and looked very interesting.
I helped out with the wool show again this year. I had fun scribing, laying out the fleeces into sheep shape and filling out the judging cards. We had over 50 fleeces this year. The wool judge, although a tough marker, showed a lot of knowledge and kept the audience - yes we had an audience, interested. The whole point of the wool show is to educate and I believe we achieved that. We spent the day laughing and making friends. The following day was the wool auction. People could bid on fleeces based on the judges marks/comments or by feeling the fleeces themselves. As usual the auction was a big success, people went a little crazy when it came down to crunch time but that's part of the fun ;P
There is also another auction which creates a lot of excitement and wow there were so many great items to chose from. I bid on a couple things and won a couple bags of cotton. There was fibre of all kinds, fibre tools, a spinning wheel, an antique sock knitting machine (!) bags, books, clothing and SO much more.
There are social events put on by the college every night during the weekend. I went to see a fellow guild member talk about how spinning changed her life. Colleen Nimetz is a master spinner and is a silk expert. She talked about her time spent at a silk farm in Laos and all the work that's goes into reeling silk. The most impressive part about her presentation is at the end she showed a picture of her sitting with a live tiger and spinning tiger fibre on her Tabachek spindle... now that's cool!! We also went to a pub night in honour of Shuttleworks who became a Titanium sponsor this year. There is also the fashion show on the last night, you can see all the wonderful work people do and all the talent that surrounds you during Fibre Week.
Saturday we stayed up late to watch the fireworks put on by the college to celebrate their 100th year. I have to say the show was VERY well done! A lot of thought and effort was put into it. They shot off fireworks to music and they were perfectly timed. They even had fireworks that when they exploded they made hearts and the number 100. Well worth the wait!
Olds is a beautiful town and had lots to offer during our visit. We also checked out the Summer Oldstice street fair and car show and ate at the BEST restaurant ever called Stonewood Grill. Can't wait for next year.
What a great day today, even though it POURED for a bit, the sun did come out and I spent the whole day spinning <3. In my spindle class we started off with supported spindles, I haven't had too much experience with these as I only bought my first supported spindle last year here at Olds. Our instructor gave us this cute little bead spindle and a bag of fibre to practice with. After a few false starts I got the feel for it and away I went. By lunch time I spun 4 punis and about 1 foot of pima cotton on this little bead spindle (I'm pretty proud of myself :). After lunch we focused on top whorl spindles and plying.
I also learned a few tricks, if you wind your yarn onto your spindle up and down kinda making a criss-cross pattern its faster. I also learned that making your cop football shaped you can pack more yarn onto the spindle while still keeping it balanced. If your yarn isn't all plugged up at the top under the whorl you can spin until your spindle gets too heavy. Hey Jeremy, see spinning and football DO co-ordinate :P
I was lucky enough to have one of my favourite spindle makers in my class; Ed Tabachek. He was very humble and most of the people in the class who thought themselves "experts" on spindles had no idea who they were sitting beside. I did get to have a nice chat with
him during lunch. He was plying some corriedale he had spun on one of this spindles. We talked about different woods, which spindle makers he likes and how he has always been a wood turner but just took up spinning because it was of interest to his wife (who has also graduated from the
Masters Spinners courses at Olds) He and her would go on winter trips and he found spindles were a great, portable tool and he could get a lot done even just sitting around.
The market mall here never disappoints. This year it is even bigger than it was last year! I was really excited, not only because there is so much fibre packed into one area but I got to meet my favourite dyer/fibre supplier; Kim from The Wacky Windmill. She has a very good selection of hand dyed fibres, handspun yarns, tools and everything I love. I snagged a couple braids that were calling my name. Kim also surprised me with a little gift from her angora bunny "Suzie"! Did I ever tell you how much I love The Wacky Windmill?! Its such a thoughtful
gift. I am going to try and spindle spin it and make something special. Thanks Kim :D
I also purchased some green Easy Spin cotton because first of all I had a coupon and secondly my spindle teacher runs the Easy Spin cotton business.
After leaving the college for the day, Jeremy and I had a GREAT supper at the Stonewood Grill and we picked up some wine and now we are just unwinding listening to the thunderstorm outside. Sigh, what a wonderful day. Tomorrow we are going to check out the Summer Solstice fair and watch some fireworks.
Well back for another year, and if you've ever been to Olds College for their Fibre Week you wouldn't miss it either. This is a very special year because not only are the Handweavers, Spinners and Dyers of Alberta holding their conference here but it is also the centennial year for the college. I have registered for the Spindles class and although it was hard to chose which spindles I was going to bring I did make my choices. (From right to left: Magpie Woodworks Mid Whorl, KCL Modular Travel Spindle, Tabachek Compact, Kundert, and my favourite IST). I heard that Ed Tabachek will be in my spindle class tomorrow and I'm excited to meet him! He makes wonderful spindles and I am happy to say I have one of each of his designs. If you EVER get a chance at one of his spindles, jump on it, you won't be sorry.
It has been a strange season with weather (as every year is) but apparently there is a state of emergency in the Calgary/Canmore/High River area because of flooding and mudslides. I have seen a couple pictures from Twitter and some streets have water that covers parked cars. I hope everyone stays safe. Sundre, which is the town right near Olds has had many people evacuated and they are staying at the college because it is the Emergency Response Headquarters. I hope the people here don't mind us fibre people. We may convert a few, you never know. Unfortunately, I heard that my instructor for the Spindles class was turned away on her way to Olds. I hope she is able to make it because it is my only class this year and this will be my second try at this class as last year it was cancelled too.
I am excited to help with the wool show this year, I will post more on that event later this weekend.
As for travel projects I brought sock yarn to knit socks for the shop and my nephew Connor. I have also brought a few spinning projects; one on my Magpie Mid Whorl and the other on my KCL Modular. I bought some merino/alpaca/nylon fibre here last year and I have split it into 3 so I can spin each portion on each of the 3 shafts for the KCL. I plan on plying them to make a nice fingering 3-ply and then dyeing the yarn and knitting socks. I have really wanted to do a full spindle project for quite sometime and I think this trip will be a big boost for me to complete it. I also brought a simple yet effective crochet granny shawl.
Only problem about travelling is I miss my animals. Our hound Jenny, is at Grandma & Grandpa's house and she gets spoiled rotten. Our cats enjoy the dog-free house but they really do miss us and much as we miss them. Xena and Rider weren't very happy last night when we brought out the suitcases.
Well it's official! I received my enrollment confirmation, I'm registered for this years' Fibre Week at Olds College in Alberta. I am SO excited. This is their 100 year celebration and the Hand Weavers, Spinners & Dyers of Alberta will be holding their annual conference at the same time. Jeremy and I booked our hotel room in December and got the last room just to show how big of an event it will be! I will be taking a Hand Spindles workshop which I really wanted to take last year (from Stephanie Gaustad) but it was sadly cancelled. I have also volunteered again to help out with the fleece auction so you will definitely see me in the marketplace if not all over their beautiful grounds. I will also be visiting the horses and barns :) I am also excited because one of my favourite dyers will be one of the vendors this year; The Wacky Windmill. I already know I won't have enough money :P If you are at all interested in fibre I can't recommend Fibre Week enough. The campus is not only gorgeous, it is so refreshing being surrounded by like-minded people with varying degrees of expertise. I am also very happy from my good friend Deb Behm who will be teaching one of the Master Spinners levels this year! Last year I took a sock design class and the two levels of the Wool Judging course. There are so many classes I am interested in this year, check it out! The countdown begins.