This weekend I went away to Camp Pluckyfluff to be with My People [the fiber artist types!] and absorb as much knowledge as I could from Lexi Boeger, the mastermind of Pluckyfluff and teacher of many expressive, textured spinning techniques. [often called art yarn techniques, though that term is sometimes controversial.]
This is the educational trip that so many people helped me attend via sponsorship – THANK YOU – and here’s my impressions on the weekend in return. My gratitude is immense.
The classes were held at the delightfully quirky and comfortable Upper Room Studio in Berlin MD, not too far from Ocean City. Monika Lilley runs the studio and has been promoting fiber arts for years – what an asset to the community! – and did a fantastic job of coordinating the event with her mother Lisa. They truly made me feel at home!
The first day of class, Saturday, we convened outside on the shady deck to dive into spinning and carding. We had some amazing tools at our disposal, thanks to Upper Room Studio, like the Strauch Mad Batt’r DOUBLE WIDE carder – folks, you need to try this thing out. Holy goats. It’s amazing. It cards everything! There was also an Ashford Wild Carder, and that was a great carder too – although it only cards smaller batts, they are most definitely WILD.
Our first task was to experience breaking out of the box in regards to using the same colors in carding. This was something that I’ve been trying to work on at home, but having someone else choose elements for me was quite freeing. I ended up with neutrals, which I carded with a lot of strong grey and some hot pink and purple [often my current go-to colors] as a balance. It came out quite lovely and spun up into a thickly textured yarn that I coiled, granny stacked, and super-coiled.
We covered a lot of techniques on day one – probably my favorite to see demonstrated was what Lexi calls “Mohairy” – mohair that’s carded up into a soft and airy puff then corespun onto an interesting core yarn, which will remain visible through the fiber. [see her book Hand Spun: New Spins on Traditional Techniques for how to do this technique!] Another technique of interest to me was a way she handled tailspinning, which is actually the way I’d been contemplating attacking it – I love when my thought processes are echoed in another artist’s thoughts! I feel like I’m on the right track when that happens.
Day two, we were set to make Coil Boil – which is a mixed technique of corespinning, coils, and Navajo or chain ply. I’ve made this before, so I worked on each technique separately, using some different types of fiber. [corespinning with tightly crimped locks took up a portion of my morning!] That’s one of the nice things about this class – Lexi will give you the techniques and an objective, but we were free to work independently on anything related, really. I love an open class structure like this – as I’m a free-natured being, it allows me to play with the styles without feeling trapped.
Lexi is great about checking on students, making sure everyone’s on the right track and slowly getting more comfortable with any new movements and ideas. I really appreciated how she demonstrated applying angle to coiling in an efficient way to control twist and grist. That was something that can be hard to “get” unless you’ve seen it in action, then tried it under guidance.
We made beautiful yarns this weekend! Everyone’s work was amazing, and this was from a room of long-time to brand new spinners – a testament to their willingness to try and Lexi’s patient hand. It was a joy to attend! I should mention also that the delicious and nutritious food offered by Upper Room Studio [and the lovely hospitality] only added to the overall wonderfulness of the weekend.
In conclusion, I didn’t want to give away all the details of class, but I hope I’ve inspired you to take the plunge and sign up for one happening near you. You will not be disappointed!
Books for home study: