Category Archives: demonstration

Yarn Spinning at Jockey Hollow

Regular readers of my various blogs know I am a proud New Jerseyan.  I even have a blog about how much I love New Jersey. Well, yesterday I had a great opportunity to head to Jockey Hollow in Morristown for a yarn spinning demonstration at the Wick House.

For those of you who are not familiar, Morristown played a key role

Spinning at the Wick House
Our revolutionary spinner educating us about the role of spinning during the war.

in America’s fight for independence. There are multiple sites within Morristown that are part of the National Park Service. Known as “Where America Survived,” Morristown National Historical Park commemorates the sites of General Washington and the Continental army’s winter encampment of December 1779 to June 1780, where they survived through what would be the coldest winter on record.

When you head into Jockey Hollow, you quickly leave modern day behind. You see the expansive acreage that made Henry Wick the largest land owner in Morristown. The trees on Wick’s property attracted Washington’s army to the area as a winter encampment site because they needed logs to build cabins for shelter and wood to burn for heating and cooking.

After a short walk to the Wick House, I found a wonderful spinner happily explaining the importance of spinning during the American Revolution and dispelling a number of the myths associated with Revolutionary living.

My first surprise is that prior to the American Revolution, a number of products were still imported from England; including fabric. The restrictions on sheep raising and wool manufacturing, along with other limitations, such as the Stamp Act and other taxes, contributed to the Revolutionary War.

The colonists fought back in their own protest and boycotted the use of fabrics from England and went back to spinning yarn to make fabric. Women would meet as a group, spin together, discuss the happenings of the day, mostly politics, and became known as the Daughters of Liberty. As a result, spinning and weaving were considered patriotic acts. It eventually became popular to wear hand-spun and woven clothing from America. You may even consider this the first “made in America” movement!

I also learned that when the men went off to war, some of the women followed and assisted the soldiers as they moved from battle to battle with duties such as nursing, darning socks, laundry, and yes, spinning yarn for later weaving into fabric.

I certainly learned a lot during this very informative demonstration. I also enjoyed spending some time at Jockey Hollow again as it has been quite a while since my last visit.

If you are in the area and want to learn more about Morristown’s role in the American Revolution, I hope you check out all the great historical locations throughout the area; and maybe learn how to make yarn while you are there!

In July, another fiber-related even is taking place at the Wick House – Clothing an Army – which will discuss the role of weaving played during the Revolutionary War and why the colonies needed France to contribute to their uniform needs. I hope to check it out!

Thick, Thin, Slubs, and Coils: Yarn Spinning at The Spinnery

Today was a wonderful day. I had the opportunity to head to The Spinnery in Frenchtown, New Jersey for a class about how to spin thick/thin yarn (known as slubs) and coils. I wanted to take this class the last time it was offered, but I was still doing battle with my ankle after surgery. Well now my ankle was amicable and ready for class!

Frenchtown
On the way to Frenchtown.

My day started with a lovely ride to Frenchtown. If you have never been there, I highly recommend it. Once you are off the highway, you are surrounded by historical homes, open fields, and preserved farmland. Today was the perfect day for this ride. Roof open, windows down, Billy Joel on the radio. Just wonderful.

Rebecca Dioda
Master Spinner, Rebecca Dioda and our class.

The class was taught by master spinning teacher Rebecca Dioda of Simpatico Fiber Collective. She made the day fun and informative by giving an explanation, then demonstrating, then helping each member of our intimate group get started. We started by unplying a base (yes, sounds uncounter-intuitive, stay with me). Then we started with our main fiber, making thick and thin “slubs.” She made it look so easy! Then we all started giving it a try. Well, lets just say the easy chatter became serious concentration. As we progressed, we all seemed to improve.

slubbed yarn
My attempt at thick and thin slubs.

What I really found funny as I was working to master this I thought back to when I first started to spin. Initially, I was very good at spinning…rope. Then I improved to thick and thin. Then I learned to spin more even yarn. Now that I need to spin thick and thin yarn like I did in the beginning, I found it very challenging. Go figure.

So it was time to start to ply our base and

Coiled yarn
Rebecca makes coils look so easy!

our slubbed yarn together. Plying has never come easy to me, so I was definitely thinking about multiple techniques simultaneously.

Of course I forgot my lazy kate. Luckily Betty, owner of The Spinnery, came to my rescue and had one I could use. Rebecca taught us the importance of “vrooom!” in our spinning when preparing for a coil. She made the entire process a lot of fun!

So I went to work. I quickly determined I needed at least one more hand. My lovely Majacraft Rose was not in the mood to ply without issue. She is currently in a time out so she can think about her cranky

coiled yarn
Starting to get the hang of coils.

behavior. Hold core in one direction. Hold yarn at a 90-degree angle. Spin in the opposite direction of the yarn. Pinch. Roll. Push. Pinch. Spin more. Vroom! Don’t let the yarn wind before they should connect. Oh my! Like I said. Lots to think about.

After some mumbling to myself, and encouragement from Rebecca, I started to get some decent-looking coils.

I still have a lot to do to become

coiled yarn
My finished coiled yarn.

more comfortable with my coils. But I definitely felt like I understood the process by the time I left. Of course I can never leave The Spinnery without picking up a few things. So what did I get? More fiber and core to practice!

After class I took a little time for a late lunch, pick up a few treats, and then the ride home. It was a wonderful day and I can’t wait to try again!

Book Review: 150 Scandinavian Motifs


I have always admired knitters who can make Scandinavian patterns. The designs are simply amazing and I certainly respect anyone who can knit these designs. This week’s book review is all about how to make these amazing motifs.

150 Scandinavian Motifs: The Knitter’s Directory by Mary Jane Mucklestone is a great book for knitters who want to tackle these challenging and beautiful designs. It starts with how to read a chart, understanding yarn labels and types of yarn, and the basics of knitting. It explains the importance of making swatches, how to weave, and blocking. What I found really interesting was the information on how to steek – knitting without interruption around openings like button holes or arm holes. It then moves on to how to work with color and the traditional Scandinavian patterns.

The book then moves on to the patterns. All I can say is wow! The photography is great – nice and close up and the diagrams are very easy to follow. They used great yarn colors to show off the designs while making it easy to see the difference between the two yarns. It ends with projects and how to use those patterns to make hats, mittens, cowls, and more. I think my favorite is the blossom pincushion pattern.

Anyone who wants to bring their knitting to the next level definitely needs this book. You will not be disappointed!

So just like normal, this book can be yours! As usual, the rules are simple:
1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!

I’ll pick the lucky winner on September 18th. Good luck!

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival Review

This past weekend was the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I’ve wanted to go to this even for years and finally had the opportunity to go!

I found out a local yarn shop, Down Cellar in Basking Ridge, NJ, was offering a bus trip on the Saturday of the event. The cost? $90. A little steep in my opinion, but my dear husband wanted me to go, so I signed up. The cost included breakfast, juice, coffee and water on the way down, snacks on the way back, yarn for a community project and several raffles. Sounded like a good time. I was told we should arrive by 6:15 a.m. to depart the parking lot at 6:30 a.m. for an approximate 9:30 a.m. arrival time. I was up at 4:00 a.m. and out the door 40 minutes later. I wanted to make sure I was there on time and couldn’t wait to get on the road!

I actually arrived at 5:15 a.m., so I went in search of somewhere that was open for coffee. By the time I got back about 20 minutes later to find several ladies anxiously waiting to go! I checked in and received my goodie back and jumped on the bus. Everyone was very excited to get going. So, we waited while everyone checked in and got settled on the bus. Then they handed out breakfast. Then we waited…and waited…and waited. Many ladies started asking why we weren’t on the road yet. Come to find out we were waiting on ONE PERSON who was late. As people on the bus became increasingly frustrated, one of the women who was running the trip said she would wait for anyone. One annoyed woman said she wouldn’t expect two bus loads of people to wait for her. The woman from the shop made a point of telling all of us that she doesn’t want us to make her feel bad. Well, she finally showed up one hour late and we were finally on the road. I settled in for a nap happy to finally be heading to Maryland.

Unfortunately, things didn’t get much better at that point. As we were waiting to get into the show, the air conditioning gave out on the bus. I especially felt bad for a woman sitting a few rows behind me who was really feeling ill due to the heat on the bus. While we waited in line, I asked the trip organizer if we would be staying later since we started out so late. She said no and to “walk fast.” I told her for a $90 price tag, I shouldn’t have to walk fast. We finally got into the show and our bus parked just shy of 11:30 a.m. – close to two hours late. The organizer announced that we would have an extra 15 minutes to walk around at the end of the day but was emphatic to be online or they would leave without you! Really? We wait approximately an hour for one woman, we are threatened that if we are late to take the Amtrak? Needless to say, no one was really happy.

When I first got off the bus, I did exactly what the woman said. I was so afraid I wouldn’t have time to see everything, I hustled and bustled around not really seeing anything. About an hour into the day, I finally settled in and started to enjoy the day.

I couldn’t believe all the fibery goodness! I had a chance to visit with Laurie, mommy to Laurie’s Lambs and of course take time to visit with her happy sheep. I treated myself to a glass crochet hook from Michael and Shelia Ernst. I also had a new experience and participated in the spinning equipment auction. I won an antique Weave-It loom and bid on a spinning chair, but someone wanted it way more than I did! It was a lot of fun to watch everyone bid and win different fiber items.

I visited every barn to check out all the different animals and ohhh’d and ahhhh’d over all the beautiful fibers and yarn. I even picked up some yarn for fly tying! There were lots of vendors I’ve only heard about, but never met. Everyone was very friendly and happy to chat about common love of fiber.

I think the Auctioneer put it best. She said during a little break that she loves coming to the festival and seeing familiar faces. That we have become a “fiber family.” And I would have to agree. It reminded me of the family Glenn and I have developed at the Fly Fishing Shows we attend. It is a common love and passion that brings us all together. It was a wonderful day!

All too soon, however, I had to trek back to the bus. We left at 3:45 p.m. on the dot…with no air conditioning the entire ride home. Someone popped open the emergency hatch in the back of the bus to at least circulate some air. I again settled in for a nap on the way home, hoping to sleep through the heat.

While the festival itself was absolutely amazing, the issues with the organization of the bus trip, which cut our time to walk around by close to 90 minutes was certainly a disappointment. So, next year, I am not sure if I will go. I will look into the Amtrak and see what is involved. If I do even consider going on the Down Cellar bus trip, I will definitely ask if there has been a late police put into place. If not, well, they won’t get my $90 next year. They could definitely learn from Jill Deal in Milford, PA on how to run a successful bus trip.

A Long Overdue Post

I must apologize for this long overdue post. The last week or so have been quite sureal.

A little over a week ago we lost my brother in law Keith quite suddenly. My husband and I were heading to his house to help him with some paperwork when we found him unresponsive. The Elmwood Park police, EMTs and the doctors and nurses at St. Joseph’s Hospital of Paterson were all wonderful and I can’t thank them enough for their care. Despite all the best efforts, we sent him to Heaven last Wednesday. Keith was 50.

This week I was shocked to hear that a wonderful person from high school, Pete Grammatico, also passed away far too early. When I was a young, awkard girl in high school, Pete always had a gentle smile and a heartful laugh. He was an amazing drummer and singer and he will truly be missed by his friends and family.

I haven’t had much of an interest in creating recently, but I am trying to move ahead. This weekend I will be giving a spinning demonstration at the Elias Van Bunschooten Museum located at 1097 Route 23 North in Wantage Township, NJ, about five miles north of Sussex, on Sunday, July 26 from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Yes, ironic, I know <grin>. You can call the museum at 973-383-0015 for more information. I hope to see you there.

Peter’s Valley Open House

I just wanted to post a quick note that Glenn and I will be at the Peter’s Valley Open House in Layton, NJ tomorrow. We will be demonstrating fly tying and I will be tying by Crocheted Rock Worm. I will also be giving spindle demonstrations.

There will be all kinds of demonstrations and music. This is a free event and a great way to find out what is available to you at Peter’s Valley.

For more information, click here.

If you come by, please be sure to say hi!