A place to come to see what's new at Heritage Spinning & Weaving – Lake Orion, MI

SOAR 2007

It’s official. I survived! What a week! A bit exhausting so close on the heels of the Washington weaving trip (more on it in my next post), but very, very cool. Being accepted to teach at SOAR was an honor and a goal met. I remember leaving SOAR in 2000, my very first one, knowing I wanted to come back and teach someday. I absolutely adore teaching. I love the “ah ha” moments and watching people grasp a concept and run with it.


The first three class days, I taught a class called Spinning for Weaving: an Introduction to the Rigid Heddle. It was ambitious, but my wonderful class rose to the challenge. The goal was to spin the yarn – a two-ply yarn for the warp and a single for the weft, learn to weave on the rigid heddle, and sew a bag from the resulting fabric. Each of the pieces of fabric was unique as were the bags. Not everyone made it through to a bag, but more than half did. Here are some photo memories of the class:

 Under that fine bag is one very creative lady!


 A great bag with great tassles.

The Grand Canyon weaving. On the loom the weft colors reminded me of the Grand Canyon at sunset. Beautiful!

 A brave first cut (that’s the lining on top of her handspun, handwoven fabric). Bonus: if you like to listen to podcasts while crafting, check out Heather’s CraftLit podcast and enjoy a scholarly listen.

A proud weaver . . . who succumbed to the siren of the loom and has one winging her way.

Now, this is one incredible lady. The gauge of this bag is HUGE for Susan. Her normal spinning is done on a charka and woven on a multi-shaft loom.

Fresh off the loom – is Virginia a proud weaver or what?

After the three day class we got a day-long break from classes and went shopping at the market. Oh my! I’m usually pretty immune to the market, but not at SOAR. It is the best spinning market I have ever been to. I love the woodworking, especially the Woodchuck products. I also got a Woolee Winder for my Schacht Matchless. I gave it a test drive earlier this evening and love it. Expensive, but worth it. Now I want one for my Joy! Makes spinning even more relaxing. Peace of Yarn was there with free samples of their luxury spinning fibers, but I didn’t have a spindle that was worthy of the fiber so I added another one to my collection. It’s a very lightweight Forrester. Bottom line, it cost me more than $50 to spin the free fiber!

Friday and Saturday were tough. I taught a class called “Making Your Wheel Do the Work” four times! My smallest class had 14 students, the largest 17.  Here’s a photo of Sara with her experiments in front of her:

The skeins on the floor show the differences when different whorls and tensions are used.

Many people learned about the joy of steaming wool to set the twist for the first time – that’s a student steaming her skein in the background, not conducting an orchestra!

This photo is interesting for two reasons. The short wheel in the center is a Hitch Hiker. It’s treadle is shaped like a foot print and the carry handle like a hitchhiking hand with thumb extended. A cute little wheel, the first time I’d seen one. And, the spinner on the right is Stephanie, the Yarn Harlot. Also, in the same class I had Amy Singer (knitty.com). I think it is through blogs and because of people like these two, the demographics of SOAR is changing. There seemed to be many younger people in attendance than at my previous SOAR experiences. The web had certainly created an active, wonderful fiber community. Who’d have thought that something so hi-tech would have such an impact on low-tech passions like spinning and knitting?

Spinning with this carpeting as a visual backdrop was a challenge, but many rose to the occasion and even excelled! They made some beautiful yarn. The most common comment was how they didn’t think they could ever spin soft, fluffy, large yarn and now they had. I totally understand. That’s how the class came to be. I admired Holly Shaltz and Stephanie Gaustad’s spinning and set out to replicate the loft of their yarns.

SOAR is also an opportunity to see old fiber friends and make new ones. I enjoyed sharing several meals with Carol Rhodes, a frequent Spin Off contributor, and hope that we can schedule her to come to the shop to teach knitting and spinning sometime in the next year or two. Carol is a lovely, gentle soul and an incredible fiber artist. I also got to catch up with Cindy, the US Ashford distributor, and Richard Ashford (did you notice his signature on Sara’s Joy wheel above?). Cindy and I serve together on the membership committee for the Spinning and Weaving Association (SWA), so we regularly teleconference, but since she lives in Washington State, we rarely get to visit in person. Face to face is so much better! I also got to meet some of the Interweave folks with whom I work frequently. The people part of SOAR is pretty incredible – unlike any other conference I’ve ever been at. 

Next year’s SOAR is the second week in October in the Poconos. See you there!

Comments on: "SOAR 2007" (4)

  1. OMG

    you got a very nice mention on the harlot’s blog but no link

    see you on the island

  2. Thank you for the wonderful class. I learned a great deal just being there even though I couldn’t participate in spinning samples, and I’m really looking forward to applying what I learned as my spinning practice improves.

  3. The results your class showed at the workshop review were absolutely stunning; truly impressive. It was wonderful to see for lots of reasons. Do you mind if I link to you also?

  4. I didn’t get a chance to say thank you in person and for real at SOAR (so BUSY we were!) so it’s nice to have the blog opportunity.
    Your handspun/handweaving class was invaluable. When I brought my bag home it was the first time I saw in my husband’s eyes that “oh! THAT’s what you can do with all of this…people would pay money for this stuff!”
    You not only taught me a ton but improved my marital bliss.
    Keep in touch, wouldja?
    MamaOKnits [at] gmail [dot] com

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