St. Augustine Spin In

The St. Augustine, FL Textile Arts Guild holds an annual Spin In at the St. Augustine Visitors Center on the last Saturday of March.  I found out about this event last January, when I was in St. Augustine with my sister, and have been planning to attend ever since.  It’s about a 2 hour drive from my house, so I was glad that my friend Lorelle decided to join me!

The members of the St. Augustine Textile Arts Guild generally dress in Colonial-style clothing when they demonstrate.  I planned to make myself an appropriate outfit prior to the event, but with everything else that I had going on the last couple months, that did not happen.  I wasn’t too worried about it, because it isn’t a requirement of attending the Spin In.  I picked through my closet and came up with a long black skirt, white t-shirt, straw hat, and my Icarus shawl.  It’s not a recognizable fashion from any particular time period, but there’s something less than modern about the ensemble!

The Visitors Center has alcoves along the side, and the city’s demonstration ordinances required us to be in the alcoves or on a row of benches at the perimeter of the main room.  Here’s a couple pictures of everyone in the alcove.

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You can see my wheel on the far right of the first picture and I’m on the far left of the second picture.  Lorelle is beside me in the blue and white dress.  I wish I’d taken a better picture of her wheel.  She painted it herself, finishing it about 12:30 am Saturday.  She brought the wheel to this event in pieces and spent the first hour or so assembling it.  In this picture, it looks black or dark brown, but it is actually forest green with bright green and gold highlights.  It is beautiful!

The table in the second picture is full of tatting.

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A few of these pieces were made by the woman at the table, but most are pieces passed on to her by her mother-in-law.  Most pieces date from the 1940s or 1950s, but a few, including the large collar on top of the yellow placemat, are from earlier in the 20th century.  This woman’s collection consists of hundreds of tatted pieces plus many vintage shuttles, crochet hooks, and more.  She only brought a few pieces to display at this event.  She spent the time tatting, using two shuttles.  I have only seen tatting with one shuttle and didn’t know it was possible to use more than one.  Apparently, some people use as many as 6 shuttles at a time!

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Other attendees were weaving tapestry (in the first group picture), knitting (ditto), inkle weaving (I didn’t get a picture), and carding.

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The Spin In was held from 10 am to 3 pm.  I thought the Spin In started at 9:30, so planned to get there about 9:00 am.  I was running late, however, so we didn’t arrive until about 10.  The Visitors Center was busy all day long.  If no other visitors were in our alcove, people tended to stand just outside the alcove and watch, even though there was no barrier to keep them from coming in to get a closer look.  But we invited them in and answered any questions they had about our various crafts.

I had a wonderful time at the Spin In!  I was working on the Cormo that I started while at the Central Florida Fair.  I made decent progress, spinning a couple ounces or so, despite helping Lorelle assemble her wheel, taking a break for lunch, taking breaks to walk around and visit with the other demonstrators, and talking to visitors.

The St. Augustine Textile Arts Guild holds their regular meetings on the 2nd Thursday of the month.  They often hold workshops on non-Guild-meeting Thursdays.  For more information on joining the Guild, the location and time of the Guild meetings, and details on any workshops they have scheduled, visit their Facebook page.  If you do a Google search for the group, you may come across a web page for them.  However, the web page is not current and is not updated.  All the communication for the group goes through Facebook!  While the official Spin In is held only once per year, one or two Guild members often spin at the Visitors Center on Mondays.  They are also discussing the possibility of having another Spin In sometime in the Fall.  If you are in St. Augustine, stop by and see them.  If you are a fiber crafter, you are always welcome to craft in public too!  Perhaps I will see you there (and maybe I’ll even be in costume).

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Central Florida Fair 2015

When we first moved to Florida in May 2002, I joined the Confectionary Artists Guild of Orlando (CAGO).  I started learning cake decorating as a scout badge when I was 12 and by the time I moved to Florida, I had professional-level skills.  CAGO does cake demos at the Central Florida Fair every year.  They usually have an entire weekend afternoon of demos from the stage in the Creative Arts building.  CAGO members do back-to-back 1/2 hour demos on a variety of cake-related skills.  I did a demo every year for three or four years.  When the Fair was looking for people to do cooking demos, they asked CAGO if any of our members wanted to do that.  I volunteered, and did vegetarian cooking demos for a couple years in addition to the cake demos.  Then I started law school in fall 2007 and life got pretty crazy.  I hadn’t been to the Fair since.  Until yesterday, when I spent the morning at the fair, doing spinning demos in the Weavers Guild of Orlando booth.

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Bev demonstrating on the floor loom and me spinning.

The Central Florida Fair is only open in the evening on most weekdays.  On the first Friday morning of the fair, they host a Kids’ Day for school groups, homeschool groups, and families.  Each group gets a guide from the fair in addition to the chaperones from the school.  The guide brings the group through the open sections of the fairgrounds (the midway isn’t open, but creative arts and the barns were; not sure about other buildings).  In the creative arts building, most of the guild and club booths had a person in them to do a demo.  Some had make and takes or a hands on activity.  In our booth, we gave a brief talk about how clothes are made.  Bev talked about the difference between knitted and woven fabrics, pointing out examples from the clothes kids were wearing.  Then I pointed out the $5 Mystery Fleece, fluffed out on the table behind me and the bag of seeded Pima cotton (in a bag just behind my right shoulder in the picture above).  I explained that these were in raw form, that they were then cleaned and formed into a continuous tube of fiber, and that in order to make yarn those tubes of fiber have to be thinner and that’s what a spinner does.

After we did our short explanation, kids got a chance to weave on the floor loom and to make Kumihimo braids with guidance from my friend V. (That’s V.’s foot in the right-hand edge of the picture above; she asked me not to post her picture).  V. is not a fiber-crafter (yet!) but she’s staying with me and she tagged along to the fair to help wrangle kids.  At the beginning of the day, Bev showed V. how to do Kumihimo braids.  She picked it up quickly and did a great job teaching kids how to do it too.

The bucket is half full of bobbins.  Kids could pick their favorite color and use it to weave.
The bucket is half full of bobbins. Kids could pick their favorite color and use it to weave.

One of the bobbins in the bucket (on the shuttle in the picture above) was loaded with VCR tape.  Bev had several small woven pieces and a finished bag that included VCR-tape weft.  I was surprised by how pretty it was.  The tape tends to take on the colors of the warp or other surrounding fibers, adds a pretty sheen to the fabric, and the draft pattern stands out beautifully against it.  Bev also brought some samples woven with plastic grocery bags or Cheesecake Factory to-go bags.  All the pieces were beautiful, and I wouldn’t have guessed the material.  I obviously need to expand my thoughts on appropriate materials for weaving!  There’s a lot more than just yarn.

Close up of the VCR-tape weft.
Close up of the VCR-tape weft.

Teaching Spinning

I started a new fiber at the fair — Cormo for my first of the Breed-Specific Spinning Project.  For the first few groups of kids, I just spun and answered questions.  No one touched my wheel.  One of the kids in the fourth group asked if she could try it out, so I sat her down at the wheel.  I’ve only been spinning for 10 months now, and have only spun about 3 pounds of fiber.  I’m nowhere near an expert and haven’t taught anyone else to spin.  I discovered that I don’t have a good vocabulary for explaining what is happening when you spin or for verbally communicating the process to a student.  After that first kid, I didn’t let anyone else sit and try all the steps at once.  I mostly let kids (even as young as 4) hang onto the roving and pull on it a bit, while I treadled and kept my left hand pinched firmly around the point of the twist.  The resulting fiber was over twisted, thick and thin, and broke a couple of times.  But so  what?  Kids got to touch fiber and were pretty excited about it.  I learned that I have a lot to learn before I can effectively teach spinning and that the technical details of spinning are not firm enough in my own mind.  If they were, I’d be able to explain them!

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More Fair for Me?

The Central Florida Fair runs February 26 – March 8 this year.  During the week, they are open evenings 4 pm or 5 pm until 10 pm.  On Saturdays and Sundays, they are open 10 am to 10 pm.  The Weavers of Orlando are staffing our booth on weekends, but may not be there on weekdays.  I can’t be there again this weekend, but might be there next weekend.  If you are at the Fair, stop by and say hi to the weavers!  Anyone can try out the floor loom; it’s not just for kids!

 

 

 

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, May 3 & 4, 2014

Back in February, I turned 40.  My parents wanted to do something extra-special for my birthday present.  They came up with the perfect idea: all travel expenses to Maryland Sheep and Wool for me and my friends Stacy and Beth!  We had an awesome time!

A 4-H girl took our picture. In the back, left to right, are Stacy and Beth.  I look ridiculously formal because I'm standing in a little ditch, trying not to lose my balance!
A 4-H girl took our picture. In the back, left to right, are Stacy and Beth. I look ridiculously formal because I’m standing in a little ditch, trying not to lose my balance!

Read moreMaryland Sheep and Wool Festival, May 3 & 4, 2014