Before I go on with images from Mexico I suppose I should wrap up my experience at SOAR. For those of you who have not been to SOAR the way the second part of the retreat works is that you sign up for four of the multiple 3-hour workshops while you are there. Each teacher only teaches one workshop but they teach it four times over the two days. The sign-up system works very well and I think most people are very happy with how it shakes out. All the classes are great so no matter what you get you will have fun.
The first class I took was card weaving with Sara Lamb and Nancy Bush was my weaving partner. We each got a deck of cards and warped them with the help of our partners. The method Sara used in class to warp the cards was different then the way I had done it before. I liked it because the method she presented was very straight forward. Once you get into the weaving part it is harder to keep track of how many rotations forward or backward you have done or even remembering if you were going forward or backwards. We discussed in class ways you could try and keep track of which was you were rotating. One idea was to write forward on one side of paper and backward on the other side and flip it over every time you changed directions. Of course, if you forgot to flip the paper this method wouldn't work very well.
In the picture you can see the sample strap I wove with some of the different patterns you can achieve with the same threading. Card woven strap are stronger than inkle or loom woven straps. They become unwieldy to weave if you try to make them too wide so to make a wider piece of fabric multiple strips are sewn together. If you check out Sara's website you can see some bags she has made by piecing multiple strips together. If you are interested in card weaving you might check out the loomy bin, this page, or just google card weaving.
My afternoon class was with Deb Menz on painting yarns with synthetic dyes. The four 1 oz. skeins pictured at left are what I dyed in this class. In only 3 hours we didn't have the time go over much in the way of theory. She showed us some examples of different dyeing techniques and how they knit up and then explained how to mix the dyes to different strengths. I was not intending to dye such light colors but evidently I didn't use enough dye. My experience with synthetic dyes is very limited so this mini-class was a fun way to play and come away with some good tips. Deb was also a vendor so I purchased some dyes and her DVD to experiment with. Natural dyes are my true love but I think it is good to know how to use synthetics as well.
The bobbin in the above picture represents my morning class on the second day. The class was "Spinning New Age Fibers" with Jeannine Bakriges. We spun bamboo, Ingeo, soy silk, latte silk, ecospun and blends featuring these man made fibers. For me this class was about getting to know the enemy. In general I have no interest in any of these fibers except bamboo. Partially this is because they are proteins that have been polymerized and then extruded. In other words: plastic. And frankly I really don't like the way the feel when I spin with them. Jeannine did an excellent job researching these different fibers and presenting this information to us. She is a great teacher even if I really didn't like the subject matter.
My last class was with Stephenie Gaustad on weaving a wool gatherer's basket. you can see my rendition at left. Stephenie is a hoot as is Alden, who was teaching in the class next door. At the end of class he popped over and told us a naughty joke. This is my first basket making experience but my basket came out alright if a bit wonky. This style of basket is meant to be worn at the waist attached to your belt by a loop of string and a toggle. It was for collecting the stray bits of wool that catch on the fence and brush as you go about your daily chores.
All of my workshops were great. I was very impressed with all of the teachers and felt that they did a really good job of teaching the appropriate amount of information for a three hour class. As I said before, if you have the chance to attend SOAR you should do so.