Tag Archives: drop spindling

Mainly Maine

I have been lucky enough to go to Maine three times this year (so far).

In June we took a little anniversary trip to Rockland which is on the mid-coast. One of the many things I enjoy about Maine and really anywhere I go are the quirky things that we come across. In Rockland I saw this: jail topper thing Rockland

It looks like a place where gnomes might live.

In July three college friends and I spent a week at a lake house in Washington Maine to celebrate 42 years of friendship and turning 60. I still don’t know what turning 60 means for me. It sounds so old but I don’t feel any different so maybe it isn’t that big a deal. I don’t know! college friends lake in Washington

In August we spent time with our son on his property in Freedom Maine. Only 13 miles from Washington. An hour from Rockland.  I made some good potato salad with his first harvest.

kyle and potatoes

We visited our friend Emily who homesteads with her partner.emily in palermo

The weekend after Labor Day, this time in Searsport, I will be teaching workshops at the Maine College of Fiber. I will teach drop spindling, wool combing to prepare fiber for spinning, and chain plying which creates a 3 ply homespun yarn. I will do a demonstration of the hackle too.

drop spindle and pippi

Pippi trying really hard to learn to spin on a drop spindle

Drop spinning spindle Betsy Alspach

Drop spindle I made from toy wheel

Who wouldn’t love playing with tools that look like medieval torture instruments?

Alspach wool combing

Wool Combs



The wool hackle which is used to blend different fibers and colors

roving from hackle

alpaca and wool ready to spin after being removed from hackle

Betsy Alspach chain plyed yarn

Chain plyed homespun yarn

I’ve always said I’d move north before I’d move south. The snow and the cold don’t bother me because I know how to bundle up and keep warm and I guess I have thick blood or something. I am always happiest away from cooky cutter suburbia and cities. Maybe we’ll move to the coast of Maine one day. Maybe not. Who knows!  My fellow 60 year olds and I now say “We’re 60. We can do whatever we want!”


Cozy Cozy Snow

Yesterday we had a beautiful day of snow.  I didn’t have to be anywhere, our neighbor across the street who helps us had his plow blade thing on his truck, the wood stove was going- so I thoughtsnow-jan-8-2017– let it snow! It did and we have 12″ of beautiful fluffy snow.

I never think much about January until the holidays are over. So now that I realize it is 2017 I decided that yesterday was a good day to organize my thinking about the various places we as Eagle Lake Fibers are teaching through April. Each place has its uniqueness and I enjoy thinking about uniqueness (run of the mill is so dull) so here are my impressions:

Jan. 14th we are teaching natural dyeing at the Northeast Organic Farming Association Winter Conference in Worcester MA. This is the 10th year we have taught a fiber spinning related workshop there. NOFA conferences are always a breath of fresh air for me. They are full of idealistic young people full of ideas about self reliance and sustainability and – ok, I will say it,  people with some gray hair who continue to believe in it despite decades of real life. I had no gray when I started teaching there 10 years ago.   🙂   NOFAMASS.org


Marigolds and onion skins for natural dyeing at NOFA.

January 21st shows life on a different plane when I go to the Cabot Bradley  Estate in Canton MA to give an overview of the Sheep to Shawl Process and then allow people to try their hands at carding and combing wool. This is an estate that was given to the Trustees of Reservations in the 1990’s by Mrs. Bradley, of Cabot lineage which anyone anywhere near Boston recognizes was sort of royalty, who had enjoyed having farming on the estate including sheep. The Trustees are working to have more events and workshops on the estate such as one our friend Jenny Hauf of Muddy River Herbals gave last fall about herbs she grows, mine on spinning wool and many others.  It is a beautiful oasis of 90 acres and a mansion not far from Boston. Thetrustees.org     Muddyriverherbals.com


Guard llama and sheep – little and to the right- at Bradley Estate Canton MA Sept 2016

Then on February 5th I am teaching a drop spindling workshop at Auntie Zaza’s Fiber Works in North Easton. Elizabeth has created such a cozy little shop and it has become a happy thriving fiber loving community.  I don’t know what I would have done without it when we moved here. auntiezaza.com


This student will not be present at the drop spindling workshop because she is now proficient with the drop spindle

Our scary fiber tools and some not so scary will be put into use on March 5th at The Fiber Loft in Harvard MA when we teach a class on carding and combing. The Fiber Loft fills a much needed void for the sale of spinning wheels, looms, hand cards and combs in this area. I bought two spinning wheels and my little rigid heddle loom there. Harvard is a beautiful little New England town with a great General Store where you can get coffee or have lunch.     thefiberloft.com

tools fibers for Jan workshop

The drum carder which made these batts is my second favorite fiber processing tool. The combs on the left are the first.

Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School’s adult ed program Assabet After Dark has asked us to teach the Sheep to Shawl workshops we taught last fall again in the fall of 2017. Before that however we will be teaching intensive wool combing and carding classes in April. These classes teach students how to take clean, sometimes dyed, wool and get it ready to spin. assabetafterdark.com


Rolags from blending fibers on the right using the blending board behind

These workshops start soon but for today I will enjoy watching the birds at the feeder and watching my cat Pippi watch the birds at the feeder. I will enjoy hearing children nearby sledding and screaming with fun. At least I think it is fun screaming, not screaming because our bold coyote is coming around and I sit here hearing them and doing nothing to scare it away.

Me with Boone

Me with Gulf Coast lamb Boone on Cape Cod

I bet you could spin coyote- but that doesn’t grab my interest right now. Ugh. Back to thinking about sweet little lambs!