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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.