I decided that this year, for my 35th birthday, I was going to take a slightly spendy vacation and do something I’d been hearing about from all my yarny friends: attend Yarn School in Harveyville, Kansas.
Basically this was a big slumber party for knitters and spinners out at the old schoolhouse in Harveyville complete with sheep, chickens, visits to an alpaca farm, dyeing fiber, wheel spinning, carding batts, eating delicious food, staying up late spinning and knitting, and shopping. Did I miss anything? I don’t think so!
I headed out to Harveyville on Thursday afternoon and we all gathered in the gym in a big circle for a reception and spinning.
Friday it was down to business. In the morning I played with the drum carders and learned how to hand card fiber.
Then it was off to lunch at Alpacas of Wildcat Hollow. The Alpacas were fun and friendly and the soup that owner Ed Howe made was delicious and perfect for the cold, rainy day. A little discussion about the animals, some lunch and shopping underway we were ready to head back. First we made a brief detour at Jepson Studios Pottery where Mr. Jepson is retiring! There’s nothing like the threat of scarcity to induce shopping. I got a beautiful yarn bowl and a serving platter.
Then it was back to the school for dye lab. We spent approximately 4 hours learning how to dye in crock pots and by painting fiber taught by none other than Adrian of Hello Yarn! I dyed one pound of Falkland in the crock pot hoping for enough for a sweater. I wanted teals, violets, grays and a burgundy. I don’t think I quite got there, but I’m still happy with what I got:
Then I tried my hand at painting the fiber. I wanted VIBRANT emerald and pops of fuchsia. I don’t think I used enough citric acid to set the dyes so it didn’t come out as intensely as I wanted, but I do like this one. I call it Lily Pad. It’s on Portuguese Merino so when spun it should be lofty and poofy.
Dyeing takes a long time and a lot of concentration. At this point I was out of creative ideas so I decided to try my hand at a gradient in a colorway I wouldn’t normally choose. I picked Chestnut and mixed up a fairly dark solution. My plan was to layer the fiber in a dish and repeatedly pour half the dye mixture on the fiber, refill with water, and repeat, gradually diluting the dye. I think it came out ok.
At this point, even though I had a little fiber left over, I decided to stop dyeing because I was out of inspiration. Little did I know that this would be a lucky decision.
Saturday was for spinning. We got demonstrations of several techniques and just enjoyed hanging out. Mid-afternoon some of the other attendees announced that they had recently been to a natural dyeing workshop and had a vat of indigo dye if anyone was interested. Remember that unused fiber? I was interested! Indigo dyeing was interesting because its actually the oxidation that causes the color. So you dip your fiber in a vat of greenish liquid and as you squeeze the excess liquid out of the fiber, the color oxidizes into a dark blue.
I tried my hand at it and I love the blue denim color I got:
The rest of Saturday and Sunday were spinning and chatting and eating yummy food. Then it was time to pack up the car and head home. I wasn’t ready to go back to the real world.
I also managed to not take a single photo of myself or people at Yarn School. I’m borrowing a few photos from a friend. These were my roommates Corrie and Sherry:
And one of me spinning: