Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gorge-ous Weekend

I was invited to demonstrate spinning this weekend was Gorge Falls Fest, put on by the US Forest Service and Friends of Multnomah Falls, which meant I had to pack up my wheel, along with all the accessories, tools, and LOTS of fiber! I found this large wheeled bag in Goodwill several months ago for $7 (What a bargain!), and have been using it to transport everything for Spinnerati meetings and demonstrations. Much easier than carrying the wheel and lots of bags and baskets!

The wheel gets folded up and cushioned with bags of fiber before being strapped in.

The front holds the flyers, bobbins, etc. I put a yoga mat over the wheel before I zip the bag closed; it cushions the wheel in transport and then gets put on the ground under the wheel when I'm spinning outdoors. I use the outside pockets for the camera, phone, wallet, my tea thermos and water bottle, and any small things I might need. Everything fits inside the bag except my folding chair.

The Fest was scheduled to start at 10:00, so ToolMan and I planned to be at Multnomah Falls by 9;30, which meant we needed to leave home early. We actually arrived about 9:00, which was a good thing, since parking was already becoming scarce!

There were several tents set up by various organizations. This was the Folk Art Tent which was organized by Teresa Kastner (that's her behind the gorgeous blanket). She collects trade beads and was displaying her collection as well demonstration beading techniques. There was also a quilter (on the right side of the tent), but I was so busy all day that I didn't get a chance to move out of my chair, let alone talk to her!

The tent had tables set up with space inside to sit, but I wanted the wheel to be out in full view, so I opted to use the table as a backdrop. I had my fiber supply out, a basket with some CD drop spindles left over from WWKIP, some skeins of my hand spun yarns, and some little samples of different fibers.

We had taken our small so I used it for my toolbag, lazy kate, ball winder, and the coffee and tea cups, of course! They also provided plenty of chairs, so ToolMan snagged one. By the time I got everything unpacked and started spinning, it was almost 10:00.

It wasn't long before the crowds began to grow and people were stopping by to watch and ask questions.

I had some really bright roving from StitchJones in her Cosmic Birth colorway, which really caught people's attention and really appeals to kids. I tore it off into sections by color, so I could "barberpole" the colors, showing how yarn is plied. I'd give them the short version of how a wheel works to twist the fibers and show them how the fibers get stronger by twisting.

If the kids (and occasionally a parent) were interested, I'd bring them beside me, put on a new color of fiber, show them how to draft in the Inchworm Technique (pinch, pull, slide), then let them spin a foot or so. They'd get this big grin on their face and say "Oh, I get it!" Then I'd pull out the single they had just spun, make them hold the join, pull off the same length of the previous color, break the single and let the yarn twist in mid-air and give it to them as a souvenir. Their were many happy faces!

I don't know how many kids I taught, there were a lot; sometimes they were lined up 3 and 4 deep! I started with about 4 ounces of roving to start with and by about 2:00, I was out of it! Since it was being spun and plied at sport weight and given away in lengths of less than a foot, there must have been a bunch of kids who learned spin that day.

I was glad I put out the CD spindles and some fiber. There were several people who asked in-depth questions about learning to spin, so I was able to give away a spindle with a little bunch of fiber (and StitchJones business card for more fiber) to 3 or 4 people who were really interested.

I also had some of my hand spun skeins out for display. I tried to pick a variety of colors, weights, and fibers to display. I actually sold a couple of skeins to one woman who was visiting; she's a knitter so she wanted them as souvenirs. I guess that makes me a "professional" spinner; I'll have to ask the CPA if that means I can deduct the costs of spinning.

One of my spinning sisters, Sara Ferguson, had volunteered to come join me but would come later; she has a teething toddler and the family's activities are dependent on his moods, at least until those four molars that he's working on pop out. My cellphone rang about 1:30 and it was her husband; the whole family had all been up all night with Connor's teething and had gotten a late start. They had been circling the parking lot for nearly 45 minutes, unsuccessfully, and were heading back home. I knew Sara was disappointed and asked if she was crying; his response was "Not yet." Well, she must have talked him into more more time around, because pretty soon, there there were! Sara set up her wheel and spun while her husband, Jesse, took the kids around to the various booths to explore.

By the time she arrived, I had run out of the pretty colors and had moved onto some white wool that I was carding with dyed mohair locks. She was spinning a beautiful blue/purple BFL in a worsted laceweight, so I switched over to some carded Jacob to spin woolen style using longdraw.

The crowd of children was thinning out (probably nap time!), but more adults were asking questions. The gentleman on the left had his video camera and took several minutes of us spinning; he was asking questions about spinning, fibers, preparation, etc. I didn't get a chance to talk to him; I wonder if he was a teacher filming for a class or maybe for his grandchildren?

Sara's a new spinner, she's only had her wheel for a couple of months, but she has become quite accomplished. This was also the first time she had spun for demonstrations, but she answered questions quite well.

All too soon, the crowd thinned out, it was 4:00 and Jesse came back with Erin and Connor. Erin is 6 and already a knitter (she's been knitting since she was 4). Sara reported that a few weeks ago, they were in Knit Purl when Erin picked up a skein of Koigu and said she "needed" it. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree!

I had about an ounce of the Cosmic Birth singles left, so I wound a center pull ball and plied it back on itself then wound a skein. The colors aren't really my cuppa tea, but I asked Erin if she'd like to take it home for her stash and she nodded enthusiastically.

Before long, we were all packed up and heading for home after a gorgeous day in the Gorge. We were tired, hungry, and thirsty, but we had a great time. Sara and I were already making plans for next year and how we're going to get there early and what we need to bring with us. I don't how your weekend was, but I hope it was half as nice as ours!


  1. What a marvelous time! And you tell it so well. thanks!

  2. That is fabulous! I didn't know that was what you were doing... way cool. :) CD spindles are a great gateway drug, er, tool.

  3. I wish I could have joined you. It sounds like you had a really great time and in such a beautiful location. There will be other times, though, that we'll get the opportunity.

  4. Lovely pics! I can't think of much that's better than crafting at Multnomah Falls on a beautiful day. As always, thank you for being Stitchjones' Director of Public Relations! <3

  5. Looks like a fabulous day! Hopefully you made a few converts to spinning... 8)


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