Posted on November 16, 2010 at 4:44 pm

The Northeast Handspinner's Association had its bi-annual Gathering last weekend, the fiber event I've planned my entire year around, giving up both the statistical improbabilities of satisfaction at SOAR and the over-crowded and furtive social gratifications of Rhinebeck to instead immerse myself in classes, vendors, and unto-the-wee-hour-conversations in a grand hotel with a heated outdoor pool.

There was a moment back in the spring when I realized at 4:58 pm on the afternoon of the first day of registration that I was in danger of missing the 5 pm postmark cut-off.  I made a mad dash to the post office, and although I arrived just in time to watch the door slam shut, I turned on my heel to almost trip over my own mailman returning from his rounds at that very moment. He simply took the envelope from my hand and dropped it nonchalantly into his bucket of gathered mail, winked, and continued on his way. I don't think he had any idea how important that envelope was to me at the time, but because he slipped it into the mail stream as if I had been  punctual, he saved me a spot in the color blending class with Deb Menz, one of my spinning heroines since I first learned how to draft.

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Deb had a veritable peddler's pack of samples and swatches illustrating the principles of her work, and I found myself handling the very skeins that had inspired so much of my early spinning ardor after I had seen them in her book, Color in Spinning. To be honest, I had been lazy with the book, mostly just looking at the pictures because it made my head hurt with the effort to absorb the fundamentals of color theory in the few sittings I devoted to it. Deb in person made it all much easier to digest, and the book is much less intimidating now that I've see the magic happen for reals.

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On Saturday, we had a chance to play around with combs and hackles, we prepared top for blending, and also made some "progressions" in hue and in saturation.

There was much discussion of good hackles for the blending process versus not ideal hackles. And on Sunday there was the making of rovings from layered colors, some of which we blended for better integration according to the lessons of the previous day. We were given a certain amount of liberty, although Deb issued colors in preselected combinations and offered advice when she was asked so that we couldn't hang ourselves with all those free reins. Kelly and I gravitated to our favored palettes, and Kelly made some crazy fun roving that anyone who knows her would recognize instantly.

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At the end of the class, Deb showed us how to drum card all our mistakes and leftovers into some glorious batts.  Kelly made some right away.

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It was a terrific weekend besides, full of friends and some pretty decent food, single malt scotch and spindling at midnight, sweater spotting and shopping with vendors Kim of Woolen Rabbit and Judy of Ball and Skein. Sara Lamb treated us to a slide show at the Saturday night banquet: a survey of her weaving work which made me resolve to warp up the Cricket and try one of the projects from her new book, Woven Treasures.

In a future post, I'll show you my roving, and the yarn I made from it.