It's been a few days since we all reluctantly re-packed our bags and returned home from Majacraft Camp. Time to reflect on the wonderful atmosphere and marvellous things learned, as well as the good feeling of having spent time with old friends and new.
Firstly I would like to thank the Poads for the incredible amount of work and organisational powers they put into making this years camp happen for us! And in the usual Poad style there were so many carefully thought out personal touches to the weekend that really helped create a wonderfully welcoming atmosphere and set the scene for everyone to feel part of our camp community. For example, not only did we all get a well stocked goodie bag on arrival, but so did my son, complete with bubbles! Our food needs were extremely well catered for (again a family effort as well) and we had a fantastic program to enjoy over the weekend. We were well looked after!
Everyone started together in the main auditorium, the weekend long activity of journaling, sample collecting, and prettifying of the pages was kicked off by Michele Peddie, she inspired us to look at our inspirations differently with some fun exercises and the opportunity to choose images, colours, and ideas that we could draw from later.
This initial activity was followed by (of course) Happy Hour, with much happiness in evidence! This was the feeling that pervaded the whole weekend, everyone was relaxed, pockets of spinners were scattered around the area with wheels and fluff, classes were running, the sun was shining, learning was going on and discoveries being made.
Chantelle Hill was teaching her fabulous crochet class (which I wish I could have attended myself) and I heard how much people were enjoying the techniques she was sharing.
Janet Knoop was amazing and everyone loved her Colour Class (even Melissa who had to deal with some bad news about her relationship with Orange!), and the tassle class results were magnificent! I cant tell you how much I loved each and every one of these glorious creations made under Janet's careful guidance.
I was very lucky on the Sunday to attend Pat Olds class, it was mindblowing and I needed more coffee partway through to sustain me! How wonderful to start with a bunch of leaves, turn them into a flat woven piece and then the magic of shaping that into a 3d vessel! These traditional pieces were made for food containers, and apparently those much more skilled than myself can make one in a very short time indeed (minutes not hours!). There is something extremely satisfying to make a useable and beautiful object from things we can find and grow in our environment.
Angela Daish was also busy filling hearts and minds with the joys of finger weaving! Her creativity and ideas are always interesting and the enthusiasm she brings to her projects is infectious. I am sure this is a technique we will be seeing more of!
Upstairs was the domain of the lovely Tracy White of Inspire Fibres, she brought her in depth knowledge and expertise to this workshop on Fleece, participants learned about fleece selection, skirting, and sorting wool for hand spinners. This is such a valuable area of education in our craft, and so relevant to us here in New Zealand were we have such easy access to whole fleeces direct from the farm. Tracys expertise as a wool classer is a wonderful asset to us!
There was also much spinning over the weekend, and I taught two classes on the Saturday in which we explored some Chain plying (Navajo ply), faux boucle making, and creating texture effects in yarn. Everyone used three different kinds of fibers in their singles and then we played with how these work with different ply techniques. For some this was their first attempt at chain plying and for others this was a new way of making loops in their textured yarns. The results were outstanding! Ian Hitch made a particularly stunning skein which I am so sorry I failed to photograph (I was a little busy with technique support to remember my camera) and it was really exciting to see how many very different yarns resulted from everyone playing with these techniques with their own colours and fibers. We had 50 something students in the spin class on Saturday and it was a fantastic experience to meet everyone, even my head was spinning by the end of the day
Then of course there was all the extra stuff going on around the Camp. Andrew spent pretty much the entire weekend in the workshop corner, busy with wheel maintenance and troubleshooting the queue of what looked like every kind of Majacraft wheel ever made! It was an impressive effort and the wheels left camp refreshed and just like new again.
I would love to share more photos with you from camp, and I wish I had some of Glynis and Owen and the Majacraft team to share, but to be honest, they were all so busy it was hard to catch them! I will be making a little Camp Movie of the rest of my photos and will post it on our You Tube channel next week, but there are most likely gaps where I missed people, so if you have images you would also like to share please email them to me at email@example.com and I would love to include them in the collage!
Only a few weeks to go till Majacraft Camp! Tutors are getting ready, making up samples, sorting out fibres and yarns to bring, organising equipment.. And I recently had a visit here at Woolwench House from the vibrant Angela Daish!
On her visit Angela brought some of the samples she has made for her Majacraft camp classes, and I wanted to share them here, they are very inspiring. Angela will be teaching the ancient art of 'Finger Weaving'. Now this was something I had never heard about before, and on seeing Angela's sample pieces I could instantly see so many cool uses for this great yarnie craft! This is a technique that goes back at least 3000 years ago (amazing right?!) and although it was used all over the world it was turned into a real art form by Native Americans, who used it to make woven belts and sashes, bag and basket handles and so on. Materials used for finger weaving varied, depending on the use intended, the inner bark of certain trees, Indian Hemp (Dogbane), nettle, milkwood, and other plant fibers, even strips of moose hide could be used.
It was not surprising to me that Angela is so enthusiastic about this weaving technique! And of course, being Angela, she has been busy experimenting with different fibers, thicknesses, colours and textures, take a look at some of the designs she has been working with in preparation for teaching this workshop: (click on each image to get a closer look!)
As you can see, we can learn how to make patterned straps, and Angela has also been designing ways to use wider pieces (the weave does not need to be limited to band size), one of the images above shows a pouch she has made from a wider piece. I would like to learn this technique for making bag straps, a camera strap, some bracelets ( lots of jewellery type ideas come to mind actually), and to play around with mixes of traditional and textured yarns. I would love to use it to make pockets and add those to my loom weavings too. And the best thing is that these can be made without a loom or heddle of any kind, literally with your fingers and some yarn, this has to be the most portable project technique ever!
If you are enrolled in Angela's Majacraft Camp classes you are in for a treat, and not only for the technique and skill learning but also the fun of spending time with Angela, her enthusiasm for experimenting with what you can do with yarn and fiber means there is never a dull moment, and with Angela it is easy to feel like anything is possible! Not to be missed!
Majacraft Camp is just around the corner, with just on four weeks to go till we all gather for much fiber fun! Preparations are well under way and I know Glynis has been super busy making up goodie bags, assembling equipment, and arranging important things like food, and coffee. And of course we have such a fantastic range of workshops to look forward to! In a previous blogpost we shared some information about the amazing Pat Old, who will be teaching some flax weaving at Camp, and this week we would like to introduce Michele Peddie, a VERY talented fiber artist, who will be guiding us thorugh the Journal making process that runs alongside the entire weekend. The idea of the journal is that we will be creating our own record of the weekend, this can include class notes, fiber and yarn samples, inspirations and visual journalling.. in fact it can be whatever you want to record of the weekend, all bound together in a specially made set of wooden covers which we will also decorate during the weekend! We will be supported, inspired, and guided by Michele throughout this process.
Michele Peddie is a textile designer, fibre artist and graphic designer by trade. Having returned to university as a mature student to complete a Bachelor of Design - Textiles, she is now keen to impart and share some of that knowledge with fellow fibreholics. Michelle explains her vision for the Majacraft Camp Journal as follows:
"The journal is about how to collect your ideas, notes and experiments and record them in a visual journal, rather than scrapbooking which can be very neat and tidy with photos etc. My visual diaries tend to get stuffed with lots of 'things' in the creation process. Instead of looking at an already created yarn and then trying to replicate it, I am hoping, along with Suzy, to show you a fresh way of coming up with ideas for colour and texture for your yarns and how to record these ideas so that they can be used over the weekend and in the future. This will be a fun exercise and I will be there to help throughout the weekend."
Michele shared this image with us, as an example of how she collects inspiration and ideas to add to her visual journal:
Here are some examples of Michelle's work to further inspire you!
We are sure you will enjoy Michele's passion and enthusiasm for the art of fibre, and the creation of your Majacraft Camp 2016 Journal!
This time we would like to share a special place with you, a place called 'Tarndie', somewhere all us fiber fanatics would enjoy visiting! Firstly we would like to congratulate them on their 175 years and six generations of the Dennis family, farming in this wonderful part of South West Victoria (Australia). This is how awesome it is, these are the people who, in the 1880's, developed the Polwarth breed of sheep! Australias first unique sheep breed and one of the most desired wool breeds for handspinners today. They achieved this by crossing Saxon Merino sheep from Tasmania, with Victorian Lincoln sheep. They then continued to breed with Merino until they reached a stabilised breed type that we now know as Polwarth. Their sheep are coated, and their top quality fleeces can reach a staple length of 13cm – 17cm, just fantastic for handspinners!
The homestead itself is beautiful, properly named Tarndwarncoort, it is a beautiful old bluestone heritage house which is currently used as a bed and breakfast (see we really CAN all go there too!).
While visiting there you can see the flock they keep, and you can also purchase wool from the Tarndie onsite shop. They process their fleeces into yarns and combed top, Glynis visited Tarndie herself when she took a group over to Australia on a fiber adventure, and she says their fiber is top quality, it is now on my wishlist!
Check out some photos from their website (which you really should take a look around too!)
And their products..
It is wonderful to see such a fantastic heritage in the sheep farming industry, one that has been instrumental in the development of breed and fiber and supporting handspinners for generations. If you can get there at all for a visit, annual shearing is in March and this would be an exciting time to be there, and of course there is the shop.. with supplies for spinning, knitting, weaving, felting, spinning wheels (including Majacraft!) looms and carders.. and anything to promote wool!
Till next time,
Welcome to the first of my (Suzy's) Majacraft blogposts! This is my introduction, coming to you from the WoolWench – Suzy Brown studio in Napier New Zealand. Today I would like to share a bit of background about why I am writing this blogpost, as the newest member of the Majacraft team.
Here is me:
I’m a spinner who loves to spin any kind of yarn, fine and lacey, to big bold and bouncy arty yarns. My website has a gallery of my spinning if you are interested in seeing what I love to do.(www.woolwench.com). Most people who know my spinning also know I have my ‘One Wheel’ which is the fantastic Aura that Majacraft customised for me a few years ago and which is my dream wheel. Since then I have been lucky enough to add a Little Gem to my stable, along with a Majacraft dynamic heddle loom, hand combs, hackle, blending board, drum carder… Shall we just say I am very particular and wont use anything non-Majacraft in my fiber crafts?
Last year, my business partner Arlene Thayer (Spin Artiste) and I launched our online fiber arts education website Fiberygoodness.com, and as a major component to our flagship course ‘Journey to the Golden Fleece’ I worked with Majacraft to develop the Circular loom, which has become a great success! Together we have grown a wonderful group page on Facebook where people share their circular creations and inspirations, and it has been exciting to see this product grow in use and application.
I also worked with (ok nagged) Majacraft on the development of the Overdrive Spinning Head for production and bulky yarn spinning, it was a thrill to share in the making and the launch of this fantastic accessory (here we are on You Tube) which has opened up many new possibilities in my spinning practice.
Now I have returned to my home in New Zealand after 12 years residence in the Netherlands. The opportunity to work more closely and on a more ‘official’ level with Majacraft as their brand new Enablement Manager came at the perfect time, and in tandem with my plans for expanding Fiberygoodness it is the ideal match! I feel blessed to be able to follow my dreams in this way.
In the near future I plan to bring you some fun projects right here on the blog: things to make with your Majacraft wheel or loom, and tool tips and tutorials for the big range of tools we produce. I will also be working to expand the Majacraft You Tube channel with more tool specific demo’s and projects! Let me know what you would most like to see in a Majacraft video and I will do my best to make it! I will be posting regular customer newsletters so if you want to hear early about any fun activities coming up you should sign up RIGHT HERE!
I would like you to feel comfortable to contact me if you have any questions about Majacraft products such as ‘should I get the one pitch or the two pitch hackle?’ or ‘which carding cloth should I start with on my Fusion Engine?’. I would be happy to give you my take on these kinds of questions in the context of what you want to achieve. I hope my experience as a fibre artist and a user of Majacraft equipment can be of service to you in helping you make good choices if you need it.
I look forward to sharing some fun activities with you and getting to know you better!
Over the years we have learned that sometimes people can feel a little intimidated or confused by how to use the tensioning system on the Aura and Overdrive heads. It is really simple to say "oh its easy, just turn that knob", sometimes the practicality is not so easy to follow. A video however is far superior to demonstrate this and we are exceptionally lucky and grateful to Suzy Brown of Woolwench for putting together this instructional video. If there is anything you are puzzling about with the tensioning, this is likely to help make things much clearer.
It explains in really simple terms the effect of moving the green drive band, the black bobbin drive band and adjusting the black band tension too. I am certain that after watching this, spinners will have much more confidence and control over what they can create.
Thanks Suzy and I hope spinners out there enjoy the video
Until next time
Donyale Grant of Moggy & Me has had some exciting news recently. She entered and won the Dairing Art Yarn competition with a piece she wove on her Dynamic Heddle Loom (there had to be a Majacraft catch in there somewhere!)
She has written a small blog post about creating the piece here.
I have also been encouraging her to perhaps 'tutorialise' the design so ... fingers crossed!
We received a message today in the Majacraft inbox via Christine Oliver of Moondance Colour Company about her Rube Goldberg Overdrive.
Using some backroom genius, she has converted her Overdrive to use an Irish tensioning system. I have to confess that I just LOVE this stuff. Generating a hypothesis and then using the resources available to test and produce a result, just brilliant! While you can appreciate we may not be reproducing this directly ourselves as something that all Overdrive spinners can use, this is simply excellent. If you could see the way many Majacraft prototypes develop, it is exactly like this so much kudos Christine.
Can you see the way it works?
Until next time
P.S. Great to see the Overdrive running on an older generation Suzie!
I have put together a video of highlights from the Majacraft Magic camp for this year. If you attended it may remind you of the great time that was experienced by all. If you weren't there, see what you were missing!
The Majacraft camp is over for another year...
I am currently going through that low funk that happens in life after a special experience. And unsurprisingly, the camp was another high point.
The tutors were marvellous and people learned stuff and had a lot of fun so thank you so much to Pippa Willison, Kathy McLauchlan, Donyale Grant, Catherine Watson, Esther Rodgers, Angela Daish, Pat Old and Brigid MacAlister. Anita and Pam worked tirelessly in the kitchens along with the Keswick staff to keep our tummies full.
The Overdrive was announced just on a week ago and this was the first time we were able to show it to people and give them a hands on. Judging by the questions and new orders, I think it might have been rather popular!
For me, the best part of these camps are the people. The sharing of stories and ideas and experiences is simply wonderful so to all the people who attended - from New Zealand and even overseas - and made the camp what it was, thank you!
See you next year!