COVID-19 UPDATE

Due to concern for the health of our participants and instructors, we have made the difficult decision to postpone the Spin Off Autumn Retreat until 2021.

The event will take place at the Colorado Chautauqua September 23–28, 2021. We are coordinating with instructors and participants to confirm or update the program; registration for the 2021 event is now open.

We are so sorry not to see you this fall, but we look forward to a healthy, close-knit event next year.  If you have any questions, please contact us at support@longthreadmedia.com.

Anne, John & Linda

Spin Off Autumn Retreat (SOAR) 2021
Colorado Chautauqua, Boulder, Colorado (September 23–28, 2021)

Learn from incredible spinning teachers in the breathtaking foothills of the Rocky Mountain
GET YOUR TICKET
WHAT IS SOAR?
The Ultimate Spinning Retreat

There are fewer than 65 spaces total for this incredible handspinning experience! Spend four days expanding your skills and deepening your passion for spinning in one of America’s most beautiful places, the Colorado Chautauqua in Boulder. Learn from some of the greatest spinners and fiber artists in the world, including:

  • Donna Brown & Cathy Jacobus, gardeners and natural dyers with the Janice Ford Memorial Dye Garden at the Denver Botanic Gardens
  • Maggie Casey, instructor of The Spinning Teacher and author of Start Spinning
  • Melissa Weaver Dunning, traditional spinner, weaver, and ballad singer
  • Celia Quinn, teacher at the first SOAR and Spin Off World Record Holder, Finest Thread (cotton)
  • Kate Larson, editor of Spin Off and PieceWork magazines and author of Practical Spinner’s Guide: Wool
  • Rebecca Mezoff, tapestry weaver and author of The Art of Tapestry Weaving
  • Barbara Teller Ornelas and Lynda Teller Pete, master Navajo tapestry weavers and authors of Spider Woman’s Children: Navajo Weaving Today
  • Deborah Robson, author of The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook and instructor of Handspinning Rare Wools video

You’ll study with accomplished fiber arts teachers, connect with fellow spinners from around the world, and appreciate the natural beauty and historic surroundings of the Colorado Chautauqua.  

All accommodations, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, classes, materials fees, and evening events are included, but space is limited. Tickets start at $2,499.99 for the full retreat.

Get Your Ticket

SOAR Class Options

Note: Class details may be updated prior to the event.

Handpainting Wool with Natural Dye Extracts

Sampler
Donna Brown & Cathy Jacobus

Because they completely dissolve in water, natural dye extracts are easy and fun to paint roving with. Discover the beauty of the natural dye palette on wool while learning the techniques of applying a range of colors including reds, purples, blues, greens, and yellows. Using wool and natural dye extracts, students will paint 6 ounces of roving for a spinning project. Before the end of the event, all roving will be steamed to set the color.

Point Spinning: Great Wheels, Spindles, and More

Sampler
Melissa Weaver Dunning

The simple but iconic Great Wheel (or Walking Wheel) was a fixture in historic spinning and lives on in the spinner’s imagination—but few contemporary spinners use these huge but simple machines. In addition to great wheels, we will have a variety of unusual driven spindles to try. Students will explore the techniques of spinning and plying on the grasped spindle, as well as basic great wheel steps. We will discuss different types of spinning heads for great wheels and basic renovation of antique wheels for spinners.

Silk: The Long and Short of It

Sampler
Celia Quinn

Learn the ins and outs of working with the longest and shortest forms of silk. Spin textured short-noil yarns, and also use noil to make carded blends with other fibers for spotted Knickerbocker yarns. Learn the best ways to handle caps and hankies to minimize wear and tear on your wrists from working with these long, strong fibers. Use dyed caps and hankies to achieve several color effects in your yarn.

Long Draw, Double Drafting, and Wily Woolens

Sampler
Maggie Casey

There’s a leap of faith when you draw back your fiber source before the twist enters. Will the loose fibers come together as yarn? Will the inevitable lumps and bumps resolve themselves, even out in plying, or remain as uneven spots? From cashmere for airy Orenburg lace to alpaca for hard-wearing Andean warp, learn to use these versatile drafting methods to spin versatile yarns.

Rare Breeds: Clun Forest

Sampler
Deborah Robson

Rare Breeds: Florida Cracker

Sampler
Deborah Robson

Weaving Tapestry with Handspun Yarn

Sampler
Rebecca Mezoff

“You can’t buy just any old yarn for your particular magic carpet,” says Rebecca Mezoff. In the art of tapestry weaving, handspinners can determine the fineness of the line, the smoothness of the surface, and the reflectance as light hits the work. Rebecca will guide you in creating handspun yarns for a variety of effects in color, texture, and character. Working with small handheld looms, students will explore using handspun yarn as weft in fun, expressive small tapestries.

Weaving Nature Journals

Sampler
Rebecca Mezoff

With a simple loom as her companion, Rebecca Mezoff takes her tapestry weaving on the road—or a hike, or a retreat. The small sketch-style weavings are inspired by her surroundings, whether as a clear picture or an abstract impression. In this class, Rebecca will lead you through weaving your own tapestry nature journals. Surrounded by the beauty of the Colorado Chautauqua, students will draw from the natural world to inspire your own tapestries. Depending on weather, the class may include brief walks in the park, or students can appreciate the on-site gardens (or bring your own natural inspiration).

Spinning for Navajo Weaving

Sampler
Barbara Teller Ornelas

Discover all those different kinds of spinning that have traditionally gone into a Navajo weaving. Beginning with fleece preparation, students will explore color blending and using the iconic Navajo spindle to create weft yarn. Students will also learn the unusual process of reworking commercial yarns to make suitable warp and selvedges.

Silk Immersion

Intensive
Celia Quinn

Immerse yourself in luxurious silk as you spin many forms of the fiber: smooth and lustrous top (plus the exotic blends with other fibers); the extremely long caps and hankies; textured carded silks; and the shortest form, silk noil. Expand cocoons to make squares of silk called mawata (also known as silk hankies), traditionally used for batting in Japan. Dye silk caps and hankies for different color effects. Experience the wonder of reeling a sheer thread from cocoons. The discussion will also include fiber properties, sericulture, care of silk, and spider silk.

Dyeing from the Garden

Intensive
Donna Brown & Cathy Jacobus

One of the nation’s top 5 botanic gardens, the Denver Botanic Gardens are home to a special project: the Janice Ford Memorial Dye Garden. A collaboration with the Rocky Mountain Weavers Guild, the garden is managed and tended by fiber artists including cofounder Donna Brown and volunteer Cathy Jacobus. In this class, students will have a unique opportunity to visit and harvest plants from the Ford dye garden, then return to Chautauqua to dye fiber from the Colorado Mountains and Plains Fibershed with the plants they have gathered.

Preparing & Spinning for Traditional Textiles

Intensive
Melissa Weaver Dunning

Learn to prepare fiber using techniques from 17th and 18th century textile traditions, then spin yarns as they did in the olden days. Carrying on the traditions of Scottish master weaver Norman Kennedy, Melissa teachers the skills that spinners of centuries past would have used to create fabrics for their daily lives. Starting at the sheep, with sorting and grading fleece from heritage breeds, moving on to washing, picking, and hand carding. Wool combing and preparation for worsted spinning and a unique approach to using the drum carder to produce small rolags will also be covered.

Weaving Navajo Tapestry

Intensive
Lynda Teller Pete

Two Navajo holy people, Spider Woman and Spider Man, gave weaving to the Navajo. Spider Man constructed the first loom, composed of sunshine, lightning, and rain, and Spider Woman taught the people how to weave on it. As Lynda teaches and demonstrates the art of traditional Navajo weaving, she will also teach about Navajo history, culture, and the weaving legacy of her family. Students will begin with a fully warped upright loom and learn to weave and design in the traditional way.

Spinning for Warm Hands

Intensive
Kate Larson

More than just protecting against winter cold, handcoverings are a way for a spinner to pamper her hardworking hands and show off some treasured yarns. Starting with a look at traditional mittens and gloves, this class will explore how modern handcoverings can make the best use of handspun yarn. Understanding how fiber, yarn design, and knitted gauge intersect will help you create handcoverings that feel wonderful and wear like iron. We will spin a variety of fibers and talk about how to make the best use of each fiber’s unique characteristics and how preparation impacts the yarns we make. Bring your needles, try a few unusual cast-ons, and learn some creative mending techniques. After all, a spinner’s hands are precious; make mittens to show it.

Itinerary

Thursday, September 23
Registration, dinner, and welcome



Friday, September 24
Morning & afternoon Sampler classes
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and evening gatherings

Friday morning Samplers (select Sampler at checkout):
Double Drafting and Long Draw/Maggie Casey
Point Spinning: Great Wheels, Spindles, and More/Melissa Weaver Dunning
Weaving Nature Journals/Rebecca Mezoff
Spinning for Navajo Weaving/Barbara Teller Ornelas
Silk: The Long and Short of It/Celia Quinn
Rare Breeds: Florida Cracker/Deborah Robson
Handpainting Wool with Natural Dye Extracts/Donna Brown & Cathy Jacobus

Friday afternoon Samplers  (select Sampler at checkout):
Point Spinning: Great Wheels, Spindles, and More/Melissa Weaver Dunning
Weaving Tapestry with Handspun Yarn/Rebecca Mezoff
Spinning for Navajo Weaving/Barbara Teller Ornelas
Silk: The Long and Short of It/Celia Quinn
Rare Breeds: Florida Cracker/Deborah Robson
Handpainting Wool with Natural Dye Extracts/Donna Brown & Cathy Jacobus




Saturday, September 25
Morning & afternoon Sampler classes
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and evening gatherings

Saturday morning Samplers (select Sampler at checkout)
Handpainting Wool with Natural Dye Extracts/Donna Brown & Cathy Jacobus
Point Spinning: Great Wheels, Spindles, and More/Melissa Weaver Dunning
Weaving Nature Journals/Rebecca Mezoff
Spinning for Navajo Weaving/Barbara Teller Ornelas
Silk: The Long and Short of It/Celia Quinn
Rare Breeds: Clun Forest/Deborah Robson

Saturday afternoon Samplers  (select Sampler at checkout)
Handpainting Wool with Natural Dye Extracts/Donna Brown & Cathy Jacobus
Double Drafting and Long Draw/Maggie Casey
Point Spinning: Great Wheels, Spindles, and More/Melissa Weaver Dunning
Weaving Tapestry with Handspun Yarn/Rebecca Mezoff
Spinning for Navajo Weaving/Barbara Teller Ornelas
Silk: The Long and Short of It/Celia Quinn
Rare Breeds: Clun Forest/Deborah Robson



Sunday, September 26– Monday, September 27
2-Day Intensive session
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and evening gatherings

2-day Intensives (select one at checkout)
Dyeing from the Garden/Donna Brown & Cathy Jacobus
Preparing & Spinning for Traditional Textiles/Melissa Weaver Dunning
Spinning for Warm Hands/Kate Larson
Weaving Navajo Tapestry/Lynda Teller Pete
Silk Immersion/Celia Quinn



Tuesday, September 28
Morning departure

Sponsors

Treenway Silks

If you weave, spin, knit, crochet, cross-stitch, needlepoint, hand-stitch, braid (kumihimo), create silk fusion, fiber art, nuno felt, mixed media or make paper, you'll find the silk that works for you at Treenway Silks

Eugene Textiles

Visit Eugene Textile Center's retail shop for equipment and materials for the fiber arts, as well as studios for weaving and surface design. They offer classes and studio support for anyone with an interest in handweaving, surface design on cloth, and other non-woven fiber techniques.

Schacht Spindle Company

We have been designing handweaving and handspinning equipment since 1969. It's been pleasurable and challenging to learn how closely our products tie in with the craftsperson's work. We realize that the quality of this work depends on the quality of our tools.

Long Thread Media

Long Thread Media serves content for the handspinning, handweaving, and traditional needlework communities online, in person, and in print. The company was founded by Linda Ligon, Anne Merrow, and John Bolton to publish Handwoven, PieceWork, and Spin Off, as well as offer information, education, and community to crafters in those fields.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I take just one class?
Because SOAR 2021 is an immersive experience with activities outside class time, classes are currently available only as part of a 4-day package.

 What’s the difference between the first and second halves?
On Friday and Saturday, participants will sample four subjects in 3-hour sessions. These classes emphasize trying new techniques, exploring unusual materials, and sparking your creativity. On Sunday and Monday, each student will participate in a 2-day intensive designed to explore a subject in greater depth.

I’d like to come for the market.
Colorado Chautauqua has limited facilities, and we regret that there isn’t a suitable space for a marketplace.

Are there materials fees?
We have included the cost of basic materials in the fees. In some cases, instructors may allow you to purchase some specialized tools used in the class.

Where will classes be held?
Unless otherwise indicated, the classes will all be held in Chautauqua facilities. We will provide transportation for any events offsite.

How do I find a roommate?
Chautauqua includes a variety of lodging, mainly in stand-alone cottages. When you register, please choose the level of room sharing you want, and indicate in the notes whether you have a roommate/housemate in mind or you would like us to introduce you to other guests seeking roommates.

What meals are included?
The event begins with dinner Thursday and includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner Friday–Monday.  

I’m gluten free/dairy free/have specific food preference. Can you accommodate me?

If you write to us with your dietary restrictions, we’ll check with the kitchen and get back to you with alternatives they can offer. Please email us at support@longthreadmedia.com with any restrictions before August 15.  

Is the event handicapped-accessible?
Being a historic landmark situated, Colorado Chautauqua is not ADA-compliant, and it is located at 5,000 feet in elevation. Please contact us directly about your needs and whether an accommodation is possible.

SOAR is brought to you by Long Thread Media LLC.