Archives for category: Handspinning
Team Asheville Home Crafts

Spinner Elke Spirakis (at left) was one of  twenty-five Asheville area spinners who gathered for a weekend retreat to plot their Spinzilla strategy for 2014. Photo courtesy of Judi Jetson.

The leaves may be falling when Spinzilla gets underway, but for some teams the training has begun before the first buds of spring!  Last month, members from Team Asheville Home Crafts gathered for at the Lake Logan retreat center in Canton, North Carolina, to plot their strategy for Spinzilla 2014.  The team was joined by a local spinning group, Shepherds, Spinners & Wannabees, to share tips. They even had a campfire complete with s’mores! During their Spinzilla strategy session, they estimated how much roving each spinner should have prepared in advance, and they are planning a fiber preparation day in the Summer.

Spinzilla happens to occur during American Craft Week, a big event in the craft-centric Asheville.  Much of this teams strategy revolves around public demonstrations.  They will be spinning in front of the town’s visitor center; the Center for Craft, Creativity, & Design; the North Carolina Arboretum, which is also hosting the Blue Ridge Fiber Show that week; and other high traffic areas in town.  They are also planning a private evening of spinning at the Warren Wilson College.

“Even though we may spin more when we don’t stop and talk to interested visitors,” said Team Captain Judi Jetson,”being from an area with a rich craft tradition, community education and entertainment is part of our purpose in joining Spinzilla.”

Spinzilla was so much fun. It was also quite a personal challenge. Spin as much as you can for a week, doesn’t sound hard, does it? It wasn’t, but it did require some plotting and scheming. Life keeps throwing distractions at you, however, it was Spinzilla week—nothing could be allowed to interfere! It was a whole week of spin, spin, and better spin some more. It was just wonderful.

Now that we are seriously planning Spinzlla year two, I am looking back to see what worked and what didn’t. I can see where I made some mistakes. So here are 5 things I will NOT do during Spinzilla 2014.

1. Don’t have a house guest! Please understand, she was a lovely guest, but, poor thing, she saw nothing but my spinning wheel go round. I was a terrible host and I felt really guilty. Not guilty enough to stop spinning, mind you. It cut into my spinning time since I had to get up occasionally to point to where stuff was. Here is the food! Towels? They are in the linen closet. I mean; where would they be? Sheesh.

Yarn drying in Captain Constance's Garden

Yarn drying in Captain Constance’s Garden.

2. Don’t work in the garden! Gardens here in Ohio are at full harvest in September. I tried to keep up—tons of tomatoes, beans, peppers, all the things I worked so hard to keep alive all summer were ready to pick and be preserved, all during Spinzilla week. I am spinning here! Can’t you see I don’t have time for picking, weeding, and watering. I do have time for eating though. Thanks to my wonderful husband for feeding me all week.

3. Don’t sleep! I took too much time for sleep. Going to bed is overrated anyway. If I could just sleep every OTHER night, that would really improve my yardage. Getting up and getting going in the morning takes too long. So get up, spin all day, all night, all the next day, then go to bed. Sounds like a smart plan. Don’t try this at home. It is only for crash dummies.

4. Don’t leave the house during the week! I thought I could spin on my tiny Kuchulu spindle in the car and at the Dentist office. This was not a good plan. Stop sign stops don’t last long enough. Stop lights are more promising but it depends on when you get there. By the time I got my spindle out the light would change. I live in out in the boonies so there are no traffic jams to provide real spinning time. The dentist office visit would have been the best chance for real yardage but there were too many people asking me questions. I am on a serious mission here, no time for answering the incredulous question of “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Are you weaving?

5. Don’t choose to spin camel! It seemed like a good idea at the time. Camel is short and it is spun woolen. Long draw seems so fast—you fill bobbin after bobbin. There were two problems with this choice. First, it really easier if it is plyed AND finished to be safely skeined up and measured. The second issue is that hours and days of long draw can do a bit of damage to a shoulder. Don’t worry though. It’s almost healed. A few more weeks and my shoulder will be just fine . . . just about time to start practicing and getting into shape for Spinzilla 2014. Maybe I will spin up that lovely Corriedale fleece I have stashed? No, maybe that long beautiful Lincoln I bought at the fiber show last summer or the Angora I got at my fiber circle. OHHHH I can’t wait! Spinzilla 2014, here I come!

—Constance Hall, Dyeology
Team Captain Coordinator
How we spin when we get together.

Spinners gather at Yarn Hollow for social spinning.

As we saw in 2013’s Spinzilla, Team Fancy Tiger, the winning team, was very strategic in their Spinzilla week event preparation.

Every night during Spinzilla week, they offered team members a 20% discount on fiber.  They offered measuring assistance so that spinners could spend their time spinning and not winding off. Each day they had a different challenge with prizes to keep their spinners interest up. Rumor has it that adult beverages were provided, to help relax the spinners as they spun their way to the championship!

All that good fun came with good preparation! Now is the time to think about planning events for your business to help grow your spinning customer’s skills set, both to help them spin to their heart’s out in Spinzilla 2014, but also because spinners are looking for more opportunities to expand their skill set!

According to Hart Business Research in the State of Specialty NeedleArts Survey (2013), 42% of spinners questioned said that lack of knowledge has kept them from doing the projects that they would like, not lack of time! 42% also said they would prefer to learn new techniques in an in-person class, and 51% of spinners responded they prefer to have technique-based classes. This information sounds like a great number of spinners are looking to increase specific skills and have time to learn!

(If you’re looking for more information about the data in the State of Specialty NeedleArts Survey, go to the TNNA website and login with your member ID and password to see the full results. The business tools are particularly useful as they break down the data into actionable plans. There is a wealth of information in the survey that can provide you with loads of ideas!)

Think about what classes or events that would be beneficial to host. If this seems overwhelming, consider incorporating a casual peer-to-peer learning experience during a spinning night.These ideas are also applicable for virtual meet-ups.

facebook events

In the Yarn Hollow Studio calendar, we have events scheduled for March through May. We are gatherings idea for the Summer awaiting the summer camp dates to schedule. An “event” as opposed to a “class” is open to anyone. These events all have a Spinzilla theme, but they apply to any spinner.

Here is the plan:

March Measuring yarn on bobbins! Spinners will compare the weighing-bobbins method to the actual yardage measured via a niddy noddy or yarn winder. The spinner who is closest wins a prize!

April Refreshing your fiber! This will focus on ways to bring back compacted fiber back to life.

May Make your own niddy noddy and other fiber tools.  I’ll have recipes for how to make your own and reasons why you might and might not want to do so!

June Fiber prep from washing to picking and carding.

Raw fiber and combs

Other options for classes could be a long-draw vs. short draw race; time trials using different drafting techniques; how to ply for fast, even, and quality results; making mini rollags (all the rage, and sooooo cute!); fiber prep from fleece to rollag. The options are endless! Take a look at last year’s Spinzilla Blog Tour entries that focused on techniques to get a lot of spinning done, quickly! Use these blog posts to glean ideas about events to host. Spinners, if you have ideas for your LSS about what would help you be a better spinner, share them! I’m sure they would be glad to hear from you.

For promoting these events, we’re publishing them on the Yarn Hollow facebook page, on ravelry, through the newsletter, and the webpage. It’s a lot of work to get the news out there, but a bit of advanced scheduling will make the work pay off in the long run. The more your spinning customers participate, the more they will learn! The more they learn, the more proficient a spinner they will become, and the more they will spin!

Now is the time to plan to make the most of Spinzilla experience.  If you are interested in hosting a team, e-mail us at info@spinzilla.org and include the following information: business name, e-mail, physical address, mailing address, website, phone number, and your TNNA member ID.  We can make sure that you are all set to register on May 5  when team registration opens.

Happy Spinning,

Rita Petteys, Yarn Hollow
Chair and Logistics, Spinzilla 2014