Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Wagon Shed - Spinning & Knitting Supplies

The Wagon Shed (http://www.wagonshed.com/) in Arva, Ontario, is a wonderful large loft over an old-fashioned wagon shed that has been converted into a shop that specializing in weaving and spinning lessons and supplies.
It's owned and run by Kassy Wells who has been a London/Arva resident for many years.
Thursday nights is usually class night and on entering the shop you can usually hear all the laughter of the women as they socialize while learning the time honoured craft of spinning and weaving.
I recently read a letter by the editor in the Wild Fibre's magazine where she talked about being at a writer's convention where she touched someone's knit sweater asking if they made it. She wrote about her faux paux, realizing that she wasn't with 'her kind of people'. She meant knitters, where admiring a knitted garment is an expected thing.
This is the type of ambience that Kassy Wells generates at the Wagon Shed, where you feel you are with your own kind of people.
She has an easy-going manner which really helps create a relaxed learning environment.

I think what I admire most about Kassy is her uncanny colour sense. She's truly gifted at selecting colours for weaving. Often Kassy will have two or more loom projects on the go, some custom orders and others to create wonderful blankets for sale. Her mother is a prolific knitter and contributes many baby garments and teddy bears for sale in the shop.

This is the shop where I got my lovely Louet spinning wheel which I just adore. I feel about my spinning wheel how men feel about their cars.
The stream of customers is constant. You'd think that being a shop located on a farm and just outside the city that you would be the only person shopping, but no, there are always customers and students dropping in at the Wagon Shed.
What I particularly enjoy is going to a place where I can meet with kindred spirits - people who love the fibre arts as much as I do. Even if I spin and they weave, we can still cabitz about our fibre choices and discuss the various benefits of different types of fibre.
Kassy regales us with tales of her escapades raising sheep and angora rabbits for their fibre. Meanwhile, horses are in the paddock out back by the barn.

I come for the companionship of knitters, a good laugh, and the fresh air. Secretly I'd love to see or get a whiff of a manure pile when out by the barn. Seriously, I miss my grandparent's farm more than words can say and the scents are an olfactory delight; they swoosh in my most happy childhood memories.
Kassy showed me some Northern Lights roving that she had spun.
Once spun this wool looks amazing, but we all confess that when looking at just the roving alone it's hard to image the yarn as lovely as it turns out.
I purchased a bag of this "Picasso" roving for myself to spin. I'm thinking about sock yarn. I've never made a pair of socks before but now that I've read so many other blogs and comments about them I think it's time I jumped on board and made some.
I would not have thought to dye wool like this Picasso - with little bands of colour repeated so often, nor so many colours. I would have used maybe only 3 colours, possibly 4 and I would have made the bars much longer, perhaps 4" or more between colour changes.

This roving makes me think of a coral snake on steroids.... but it looks gorgeous once spun and its not so clown-like.

Once home I added this roving to my stash. I figured it was time to sort the stash a little, organize it and get some of my wool in ziplock bags for storage.
(I'd seen a couple moths in the kitchen and was starting to panic. Then last night I caught one and looking at trusty internet sources I was relieved to find it was only a pantry moth - off to Home Depot for some pheromone bait).
I got a cardboard box of roving at a good price, most of it was ends and spread everything out on the couch to sort. It was around 4:15 on a Saturday and the local Post Office was closing in 45 minutes. I needed to pick up a delivery there so I just left everything and dashed.
I was back in 20 minutes with my delivery box and upon entering the living room I saw my mistake. I had left my stash unattended. Rule: Don't leave your stash unattended or others will come along and scoop if for themselves.
The other day my sister was over and she said, "Why are you letting the cat sleep on your new vest?" This is the Taos Chunky Vest which I am just finishing (need a button) and my sister was just admiring it a few days ago and tried it on.

Without looking I asked if it was Tigger? "Yes," she said. We seem to have a trend when it comes to Tigger and warm fibres.

"I didn't give Tigger the vest to sleep on," I said, "I just laid it on the couch to photograph it for my blog." The cats, Tigger mainly, really taking advantage of my woolens. Rule: Don't leave any wool or roving unattended unless you want it to become an instant cat bed. At least everyone in my house appreciates fibre.

I'm having a little trouble with keeping my spinning tension consistent when I spin day to day or week to week.
I may only spin an hour one night and then have to leave it for a few days. When I come back to it, it's like, "where was I? What gauge was I spinning at?"
Hopefully in time that will improve? If you have any experience with that, please let me know.

And here you can see the Northern Lights Picasso roving done up as a two ply. Not so clown-like now.
What was very interesting to watch is how the colours would mix. While being drafted the colours would blend and create whole new colours which I thought was intriguing.
Also, although each colour band was only about 2" it would stretch out when drafted so it went a little farther than I thought.
This is a note to self when I continue embarking on my own dyeing adventures.


Jan Mader said...

I love to read what you write. You're colorful descriptions (and yarn) combined with beautiful photos, make me want to come back again and again.

Also...I am not a detail person. I am always very happy when someone like you noticies important things that I miss! Thank you!

PS...I am going to present to a group of teachers tonight (who are working on their Master's). I'm going to share what you wrote...hope you don't mind. If you do, please email me before 6:00...jmader@netwalk.com

Jan Mader said...

Ooops....just noticed typos...I meant your, not you're...

Barbara's Spot on the Blog said...

Hi Jan. Yes by all means publish my comments from your blog :) Barbara