Florida Sheep, Wool, and Herding Dog Festival 2014

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packed for workshop 002Florida Sheep, Wool, and Herding Dog Festival 2014 this weekend: Friday, Saturday & Sunday 4/25, 4/26, and 4/27/2014. I’ve loaded six, count ’em, six wheels already including Victorial the Dental Drill base Victorian Door Knob spinning wheel, a Frank Fell Saxony, Journey Wheel, imported antique French Metal Wheel, Ashford Traditional Spindle Wheel and Australian Wind Wheel.

I’ll be teaching:

(1) Wheel Mechanics 101 … spinning wheel tune-up; if it’s not broken or missing parts, we’ll get it spinning. Will include instruction re:wheel mechanics, i.e. double drive, direct drive and Scotch tension AND minor repairs i.e. new leather bearings, tightening joints. In addition, we’ll provide hints for evaluating a garage sale or Craig’s list wheel and the feeding of old wood. There will be a small materials fee to cover the cost printing and supplies.

(2) Spinning 101 … introduction to wheel spinning. Will include survey of fiber prep techniques and prepared fiber available to hand spinner, i.e. hand carding, drum carder, roving and batts, also learn about yarn composition, i.e. z vs s twist, plying and fulling. Lots of hands on time to learn or refine basic spinning skills to turn out small gauge knitable/weavable yarns, not “art yarn”. Spinners may bring their own wheels or “rent” a wheel for the session (by pre-arrangement). There will be a small materials fee to cover the cost printing and of fiber.

(3) Garbage Bag Dying – an intro to dying wool fiber. Lots of hands on experiences.


One-of-a-kind Spinning Wheels

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I am writing an article for Fall 2014 Spin-Off Magazine on One-of-a-Kind spinning wheels. I am soliciting photos. I am posting a guide for photo taking and a photo release which need to be returned with any photos.



The wheel below is a OOAK spinning wheel I created from a foot powered dental drill and an antique Victorian door knob and back plates.

Foot Powered Dental Drill Spinning Wheel

CLICK HERE to see Foot Powered Dental Drill Spinning Wheel Video.


Spinning Roving for Sale

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I’ve been playing with commercial dyes and home dye techniques and I think I’ve nailed it.  I have several combinations which will soon be available on Etsy.









Sand & Surf


Muted Morning








Weaving Fibonacci Colors

Posted by Tropical Twister under Articles , Smoky Mountains Convergence Tri-Shawl , Tri-Loom Projects , Weaving 
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Here I’ll describe how to weave Fibonacci colors as I described in my article in Spin-off Magazine Spring 2014.



My first use of Fibonacci numbers was laying out my “Convergence Tri-Loom Shawl”. Every two years, the Handweavers’ Guild of America “converges” on a city for the HGA’s International Fiber Arts Conference. In 2008, they met in Tampa, Florida. To honor convergence, the Guild commissioned the creation of special yarn. The space-dyed yarn was dyed in colors of the tropics, brilliant pink, turquoise, green and orange. I plied the space-dyed convergence rayon singles with bright colored cotton for a tri-loom project.

I’m tall and wanted a generous shawl. Not satisfied with the available 7’ looms, I wanted an 8’ loom. That summer, we were planning a vacation in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, so I had my summer project. I had my husband cut three pieces of wood molding to create the tri-loom and had him bolt the corners together so I could disassemble it to take it to the mountains where I could reassemble it. He devised a transportation device, utilizing a PVC pipe which he capped on each end, the “limbs” of the tri-loom rode to the mountains on the roof rack in style.

Once we got to the mountains, I began to hammer nails. Yes, I’m obsessive, before the groceries were purchased, before the suitcases were stored, I was nailing. I carefully marked and nailed exactly the same number of nails across the top as were nailed into the other two sides of the triangle. When I started to weave, the threads became more and more angled; they weren’t straight up and down. I soon figured out that the ratio should be two to one; that is, two across the top for each along the adjoining sides. BUT, serendipity, it all worked out. When I first began to weave the shawl, I had found my weave very loose. I discovered that if I looped my yarn twice around the bottom nails for each time I looped the yarn around a top nail, I had a tight weave. (Twice the yarn and twice the work, but a very satisfactory result.) I finished the shawl by treating each loop separately, knotting fringe in each loop.

I wanted the stripes to blend into one another. I recalled when I was looking at sock knitting patterns reading that stripes are most pleasing to the eye when one uses stripes proportioned in additional adjoining numbers: 1, 1 (1 + 0), 2 (1 + 1), 3 (1+2), 5 (2+3), 8 (3 + 5), 13 (5 + 8), 21 (8 + 13), etc.  The number sequence was named for Leonardo Fibonacci an Italian mathematician who introduced the relationship, also known as the golden ratio, to the West; it had been earlier described by an Indian mathematician.

By the nature of tri-loom weaving technique, each pass creates both warp and weft. It moves from the bottom left side to the top of the triangle and down again; it then crosses the loom and loops on the next available lower right nail before going up to the top right and then reverses the process, ending on a nail on the lower left. This process creates two warp and two weft threads for each pass. Therefore, my widest stripe was 8 pairs of two. The next stripe of the same color on either side of the mentioned stripe was 5 pairs of two. The next stripe of the same color on either side was 3 pairs of two; then 2 pairs of two; then 1 pair of two and finally 1 pair of two. I overlapped the colors, placing the narrowest strip of one color next to the thickest stripe of another. I love the final results.

I worked on the shawl in the summer and had to wait ‘til fall to return to the mountains to finish the project. (P.S. My husband took pity on me and my struggles at nail driving and purchased for me in Ashville a beautiful cherry Hill Creek Fiber Studio 6’ 10” tri-loom.) That next summer, I wore my Shawl as I wandered through Convergence. Yes, Florida in the summer but thanks to the air conditioning, it was freezing (at least to this Florida gal). A Convergence shawl with a tropical twist was just the thing.


Posted by Tropical Twister under Articles , Spinning , Weaving 
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I’m delighted, an article I wrote was accepted for Spin-Off Magazine Spring 2014, “Fibonacci Colors“.

The article provides guides to “Using leftovers purposely”. I describe training ones eyes to identify what Laura Bryant describes as a “river of light” in her video “A Fiber Artists Guide to Color”. I also included a tip I’ve learned to build on her training ones eyes. By taking a digital photo and converting the photo to black and white you can assess the “weight” of a colored yarn without being distracted by the colors. Those that are too intense/too “heavy”, can be easily identified; those that are too subtle/”light”, can easily be sorted out. Colors that are the same weight can be used in the same project, even if they don’t fit color wheel guidelines.

I’m a beginning weaver so I choose a simple Undulating  Twill:  Straight Draft; 2/2 Twill from Anne Dixon’s the Handweaver’s Pattern Directory page 198 for the pattern.  Because as the warp advanced and completed work would be hidden, I was concerned that the “random” colors might not blend or the stripes might not balance.  To blend the colors and assure balanced stripes, I used the Fibonacci number sequence as a guide.  The numbers follow a progressive sequence, with each new number being the sum of the two previous numbers.  The sequence is   0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, … Fearing one pass would get lost, I used the formula 1 = 4, that is for each Fibonacci number, I would make four passes.   Where the number was “1”, I would make 4 passes; “2”, I would make 8 passes; “3”, I would make 12 passes, and so on.  While the yarn from one skien was woven into the weft in stripes with increasing width, I decreased the width of the adjacent yarn stripes.  One transition of weft passes would be as follows: 52 cream (13) 4 blue (1) 32 cream (8) 4 blue (1) 20 cream (5) 8 blue (2) 12 cream (3) 12 blue (3)  – 8 cream (2) 20 blue (5) 4 cream (1) 32 blue (8)  4 cream (1) 52 blue (13) 4 salmon (1) 32 blue (8)4 salmon (1) 20 blue (5) 8 salmon (2) 12 blue (3) 12 salmon (3) 8 blue (2) 20 salmon (5)4 blue (1) 32 salmon (8) 4 blue (1) 52 salmon (13) 



Merry Christmas!

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Christmas sheep


Papier-mâché Spinning Wheel

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The highly regarded spinning magazine, Spinning Wheel Sleuth , recently featured the papier-mâché spinning wheel-in-a-box that I restored.

I created this video to demonstrate the wheel is “spinnable” and to provide close ups of the various features.



Debbi by C. Norman Hicks

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Debbi spinning wheel front

“Debbi”, 1980’s solid brass wheeled spinning wheel from builder C. Norman Hicks rescued from a storeage unit in California has made it’s way to Florida.  Solid oak castle wheel has scotch tension and inovative system for tensioning.

eBay wheel arrived at her new home yesterday (8/15/2013). Little “Debbi” was rescued from a storage unit and seller had no information about her. She was numbered (49) and signed by her builder (C. Norman Hicks). A brown envelop which arrived with her included a Polaroid snapshot (I remember those) labeled Christmas 1981. A receipt for purchase was dated Nov 30, 1981 and signed by the builder. Interestingly both the receipt and the notations on the outside of the envelop number her #50.

The notations (likely by the builder) on the envelop are as follows:

Debbi # 50

Finished 20Nov1981

Brass wheel

Red Oak wood

Clear Lacquer finish

Designed & made by C. Norman Hicks

Yes, that wheel’s not painted gold, it’s solid brass!

I was in contact with a member of the San Diego Creative Weaver’s Guild who was able to supply a copy of a magazine article from Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot (Fall 1974) which pictures Mr Hicks. He was reported to have been an active member of their guild and she’s promised to do a bit of research for me.

There are two sets of roller bearings for the drive wheel and two sets for the flyer. The flyer bearings were frozen. The wheel bearings were stiff. I soaked all the bearings in penetrating oil and removed the old crusted oil and repacked the bearings with white grease. The rubber band providing flexible tension on the bobbin brake was crystallized and was replaced with a spring. I didn’t have a rubber band in the house so I used the spring. Seems to work but may go back to a rubber band for authenticity of design after a trip to the Staples. The flyer rod was slightly corroded and was cleaned and buffed. The flyer itself is bent copper tubing. It appears brass cup hooks were soldered to one arm of the flyer.

The design is interesting. The flyer rod with it’s huge orifice is pressure fitted through two sets of bearings and the pressed board whorls (3) is locked on to the flyer with set screws and an allen wrench. It came with a single bobbin and it would be complicated to change bobbins. I’m thinking the plan was for the spinner to wind off the bobbin. I slathered WoodBeams all over the lacquered wood to clean and feed the wood. There are places where the finished has given way to time but no evidence of water damage or abuse.

The bobbin ends are pressed board and the glue holding them have given in to time as well. I re-glued the separated ends with epoxy glue and clamped to dry. Had to wait to this morning (8/16/2013) to try the wheel. It was a bit stiff at first but the yarn built up in a hurry to my surprise; very fast with little effort. I spun both with my right foot alone and with both. Best effort with the two feet working in tandem. The wheel loosened up and we worked well together.

Half-moon slot and bolt with wind nut on the front are for adjusting belt tension. When you want to change whorls the top section is tilted and thereby the tension is adjusted. For the largest whorl, the top section is parallel to the table.

It’s diminutive size would make it a good traveler, but it’s weight (brass drive wheel) would discourage me from backpacking with it. Very sturdy on its tripod. Well designed and engineered.


Debbi from back



Spinning Wool Singles Inspired by Coral

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Seabreeze Spinners’ Inspiration

Beautiful handspun singles spun on vintage Timbertops double flyer chair wheel inspired by colours of the sea and Mushroom Soft Coral.

Deepwater mushroom soft coral (Anthomastus ritteri) off the coast of California, in the Pacific Ocean — Mark Conlin/Photolibrary © (Bing United Kingdom)



Castle Spinning Wheel

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I cleaned up and tweaked castle spinning wheel likely of German origin.  It is for sale on eBay HERE

See wheel demonstrated in video below:


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