the joy of fleece

I am back from my last-minute whirlwind trip to Michigan over the weekend. I badly needed a mental health break, and there just happened to be a class with the amazing Deb Robson this weekend, at the wonderful lair of Beth Smith, e.g., The Spinning Loft.

Beth, in her newly-steeked sweater

“…with The Amazing Deb Robson!”

Deb Robson talks fleeces with Truffles

Good grief, I sound like a carnival barker (Now with a completely New! Different! Link!). “Come see the Amazing Deb Robson and her Tremendous Travelling Trunk of Mysterious and Rare Fleeces from all points of the compass, from civilized nations and those far from the reach of the British Empire! Be awed! Be enlightened! Experience the…”

Oh. I should stop now, shouldn’t I? Sorry. It’s the wool fumes, I promise. They’ll dissipate. Eventually.

Picture a shop in an old brick building, with large front windows. Through the glass, past the sheep cutouts, you can see at least a dozen spinning wheels, piles of dyed fibers, baskets of braids, niddies and noddies and bears, Oh My. (OK, not bears. Not even teddy bears. Again with the carried-awry-by-fumes. I’ll try harder, really I will.)

Did I take photos of the gadzillion spinning wheels, or the baskets of dyed fibre? No. I took this picture. Because of the sheep. Also: Yarn cupcakes.

You go in, and after recovering your senses a bit, you realize there’s another room to be investigated. You duly investigate, and step past the doorway and suddenly it’s all she wrote for you, Fibre Farrah, my sweet. You are no longer able to do simple math, nor act in socially appropriate ways, nor close your mouth to stop the flow of drool that now drains from the corner of your open maw.

Truffles helps “Penguin” (name changed to protect the guilty) remain safe in the Witness Protection Program

Welcome to the Room of Fleeces.

Three walls completely covered with cubbies. (These are, of course, the regulation IKEA Expedit cubbies that are de riguer for all serious fibre collection organizers.) The cubbies are completely filled with fleeces.

Shelly merrily succumbs to the wool fumes

There are fleeces in bags along the tops of the cubby shelving, there are fleeces in bags along the bottoms of the shelving, there are fleeces under a table, there are fleeces behind the curtain which marks off the wee storage/kitchen/fleece-washing-station that forms the fourth side of the room.

EXTREMELY conservative estimate: 100 fleeces in that room. However, I basically just picked that number out of my woolly cap, because I tried counting the cubbies and the bags and see “failure of simple math skills” as noted above.

Spinners amidst All The Fleeces

All the fleeces are different. All the fleeces come from different breeds of sheep, or if they are from the same breed of sheep, they are different somehow in some way that Beth and Deb can explain to you off the tops of their amazing heads.

All previous promises of financial restraint made to spouses and friends immediately become null and void. All previous self-imposed budget limits are mentally adjusted upwards, without conscious thought.

Basically, you’re doomed.

John Malarky
, Cardweaver ExtraOrdinaire, lets Truffles model one of his creations, unaware of the doom waiting to befall him

Add to that the fact that you are there for a two-day class with Deb, studying eight specific fleeces from six breeds of sheep, and you’re double-damn-doomed.

Double-damn-doomed but happy: Shelly and Kristen let Truffles whisper sweet fleece nothings into their ears

I love spinning classes. The circle of wheels of all sizes and kinds; the circle of friends both new and long-time; the scatters of wool underfoot; the gorgeous fleece-fluff that transforms into a myriad of yarns in the talented hands of those around the room; the soft whirrrr of wheels and the raucous joyous flow of chatter-and-curses;

I swear this photo has nothing to do with the text it appears next to. Sasha of the SpinDoctor podcast would never curse in front of Truffles.

the endless caffeine runs; the endless bathroom treks; the peaceful joy that comes from doing something that heals your heart and does the world good in ways we can neither fathom nor express.

The Spinning Loft brick-and-mortar shop is closing October 13. Beth will continue to sell the best fleeces on earth from her little corner of the internet. She’ll have more time to teach us all about Which Fleece Does What When, so that the knowledge inside her head continues to spread to all of us Fibre Farrahs. She’ll have time to Write Down All The Things, and maybe her family will even get to spend time with her. There are unconfirmed reports that she might even be allowed to sleep and take bathroom breaks.

Truffles appears to be the essence of bliss as he is uh…gathered to Jillian’s bosom.

The Spinning Loft is a unique resource, a place to see in-person a selection of All The Fleeces, a place to take classes and learn and laugh and, yes, to overspend your fibre budget. I bought three fleeces that were not part of my weekend plans when I left on Friday morning. Wait till you see them. I wish the internet allowed me to post a lock of each that you could handle for yourself so we could talk about each one, and so I could tell you what I learned from Deb that helped me to choose those three fleeces out of a room packed to the ceiling with the woolly emanations of sheep.

The Loft is closing, which means it’s up to us, kiddos. We need to take responsibility for passing on all the skills and knowledge that folks like Deb and Beth have spent years accumulating. Take classes from people like Deb and Beth, so you can get your hands on samples of fleeces you might not see otherwise. Read their books. Learn, and spin; learn, and sample; learn, and learn, and learn until your brain is full and your heart sings.

Truffles, listening to Lara’s heart singing. What Lara doesn’t know is that Truffles is also plotting how to steal away the lovely CVM fleece she’s holding.

We’re going to all have to become the Virtual Room of Fleeces now. Why? Because Life Is Sheep; wool is our heritage; spinning has been our sweat and our solace for thousands of years. We need teachers; we are lucky to have folks like Beth and Deb and Sara Lamb and Abby Franquemont and Sara Swett and if I really tried to name them all I would have a huge FAIL WHALE attack.

This weekend, I became part of the Bond/Rambouillet/Shetland corner of the Room of Fleeces. I’ve got a fleece of each, an AWESOME fleece of each, and I’ll be sharing with you as I process and spin and knit each one.

Which cubby of the Virtual Room of Fleece do you want to be part of?

Greg and Truffles are excited by visions of things to come.

Small sparks of inspiration

❀ The name “Farrah” means “joy” in Arabic.

❀ These exist. Yet one more sign that the Apocalypse is near.

❀ As long as we’re Going There: Hello Kitty Bras.

❀ Fascinating: There is Black American Sign Language and then there is White American Sign Language. I love how culture influences our language; I think realizing the extent of this influence helps us to understand one another better.

❀ 3-D printing technology helped this bald eagle get a new beak. Brought to you by Geeks for the Greater Good.

❀ Rumours abound that soon toilet paper manufacturers will be selling TP sans paper tubes. Spinners everywhere wail; this talented artist will be combing the dump for materials.

❀ My adorable spouse is 39 today. I’m a few years (ahem) older than Adorable Spouse. A.S. loses Adorable Points by bemoaning the fact that 39 is “SOOOO OLD.” (This isn’t really a Chispa but I had to include it somewhere. You understand.)

❀ Wow. House of Colour. Double-damn-Wow.

❀ And of course, our regularly scheduled anti-depressant cute animal segment: Kitten riding a turtle. If you don’t laugh or even crack a smile during this video, there is NO HOPE for you.

I’ll be back with more fleece babbling soon. Plus: I finished spinning the BFL, sweater love, and there’s a cat tail in my face. Gotta go.

About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Two toddler-age kittens, 1 permakitten, 2 grownup cats, 1 beloved dog angel, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life. I suppose that the 5 cats make me 1 crazy cat lady; OTOH, apparently, yes, I do need that much feline supervision.
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9 Responses to the joy of fleece

  1. Donna says:

    Happy Birthday to Nicholas! (It’s my birthday as well. Yes, 39 is soooo old. But 63 is young. And fabulous.) ❤

  2. Lisa King says:

    I’m so sorry to see Beth’s shop go, even though I’ve only been there once. I’m glad she’ll still be selling fleeces, but it’s sad to know the great gathering place will no longer be. On the other hand, she can probably do more teaching, which is a Good Thing!
    Tell A.S. that when he’s looking at the back side of 49, we’ll talk.

  3. molly says:

    …’does the world good in ways we can neither fathom nor express’….- beautiful phrase, beautiful thought…thank you!

  4. Shelly says:

    It was a spectacular weekend. Also, Teeswater! Is! Mine!

  5. jacey boggs says:

    all the good people in that class!

  6. Sounds like such a wonderful place! It’s so sad that it’s closing and I’ve never been. I really need to be around more spinners

  7. Seanna Lea says:

    I love the kitty video. I definitely needed that humor today!

  8. Sharon V says:

    I didn’t know the shop was closing, and though I’ve never been there (I live all the way in New York City), it’s still sad to see another brick and mortar business close. That didn’t stop me from ordering some fleece, though! Teeswater, yum!

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