Last Friday there was no school in Lake Orion because of the extreme cold. 11 below before the wind chill, according to my personal weather-girl, Mariah. When she told me this, I was walking outdoors in San Diego in 75 degree weather. I only felt bad for a minute – because I truly reveled in the sunshine and warmth. I think it was just what the doctor ordered!
Of course, it is more than just a temperature difference to be in San Diego at TNNA. It is also a shift of thinking. Teaching at TNNA is different than teaching at the shop – these are folks that are in the fiber business. Also, your antennae have to be up to watch for trends and new things for the shop and making sure you catch up with people you only get to see at national events.
I was in San Diego for TNNA – the winter trade show for our industry. I went to teach two day-long classes on rigid heddle weaving for Foxglove Fiberarts Supply, the US Ashford distributor. Cindy, owner of Foxglove, and I have been serving on the membership committee for the Spinning & Weaving Association for several years. She is a sweetheart and has been in the industry since she was in college. It is always refreshing to talk about the state of the industry with others. It was a treat for both of us to hear the different perspectives of distributor and shop owner. We both agree that there is a big upsurge in weaving and the demographics of spinners is getting younger.
My classes were very enjoyable and I think we now have 10 new weavers. Certainly all came away with a scarf – tho’ they had to be finished at home in the washing machine as we didn’t have access to one. Students were given the choice of two different projects, both using Tekapo wool. Tekapo is an Ashford worsted weight wool yarn that was perfect for these projects. The first was a “holey” scarf, woven with one-inch gaps in a nine-inch wide warp and woven off with one-inch gaps between one-inch wide woven section. When fulled/felted, it becomes about five or six inches wide and is quite pliable and very pretty. The other was an eight-inch wide scarf or fabric sett at 7.5 ends per inch. Some students were planning to use it as a scarf, others as a bag, and yet another as an example to her future students at home much improvement you can show in one piece! I’ll put photos at the end of this post, but first I’ll share my TNNA impressions briefly.
Mind you, I only had two hours to spend on the show floor (but I still managed to do a bit of damage as far as orders go!), but what I did see was a continuation of the lace trend with the addition of more dresses and crochet. I ordered two new yarns: one a very nice fingering weight yarn (sold as sock yarn – it is machine washable wool blended with nylon) that produces wide bands of color when knit. It feels great, is beautiful too look at and has all kinds of uses beyond knitting socks. It should be here within the next two months. The second new yarn I ordered is from Louet – a US alpaca. I liked it for two reasons, first, I appreciate supporting US farmers, but also because it is blended with 20% merino. The tiny bit of merino will give it some memory, but will allow the alpaca’s sheen and silkiness to come through. The alpaca is a blend of suri and huacaya. This yarn has all kinds of potential.
It is not just a yarn show. I also placed an order for Louet’s new Jane loom. The Jane was developed with the assistance of Jane Stafford, a Canadian weaver, for use as a workshop loom. It’s “claim to fame” is that it is easily portable – it weighs just 17 pounds and folds up to the size of a suitcase coming complete with a leather carry strap on the side. It has eight shafts that operate with ergonomically placed levers, has a built in raddle and sits on a table top. An optional stand is available. The narrower version that I ordered retails for just over $900 and is a pretty slick package.
Of course, going to TNNA isn’t just about buying. It is also a time to connect to the people of the world of yarn. I enjoyed a short visit with the Louet folks and was tickled to meet Jane Stafford who has planted a seed. I really want to go to her place on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia to take a class called “Pushing the Boundaries of Plain Weave.” Cindy and and I enjoyed a very brief hello with Marilyn Murphy, Interweave Press and TNNA president. In the Louet booth I also ran into Maggie Casey and Abby Franquemont. Maggie is co-owner of Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins in Boulder, Colorado – my second favorite fiber shop. Maggie just released a book with Interweave called Start Spinning and has been a regular SOAR instructor for many years. Maggie is a special person – she is down to earth and pure of heart and is an inspiration to me. I met Abby at SOAR last year and am thrilled that I’m going to be taking her back strap weaving class at the Spinning Loft in Howell in July. Abby spent much of her youth in Peru (tho, in truth, Abby is still quite young!!!). Abby is smart and talented and another gentle, fibery soul. I also got to spend some time in the Foxglove booth warping a loom for Cindy. Her early years were spent at Crystal Palace who had the booth across the isle, so I used yarn she’d nabbed from Susan and Andy to warp the loom. Another very lovely new sock yarn that we ordered last month. Talk about gorgeous on the loom. I wanted to stay and weave once the loom was up and running. Silly me, I went and spent money instead.
San Diego was not a disappointment. It was the first time I had spent any time there in years. I lived there for a short time while I was attending Radioman “A” School for the Navy. San Diego sure has cleaned up it’s act. I’d love to go back and spend more time there. Of course, we did have really stupendously nice weather – clear, mid-70’s, warm at night. Here’s the view from our hotel room:
And here are the promised photos from class.