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w/ Louise Wheatley & Lyrra Magda

9am- 5pm

Joppa, Maryland

Spindle Making & Spinning - 3-day class, Sundays, Oct 2, 9, 16
Dogbane 1: Processing  - 1-day class*  Sat, Oct 29
Dogbane 2: Twined Baskets 1-day class*  Sun, Oct 30
Yucca 1-day class , Sun, Nov 6
Nettles 1-day class*  Sun, Nov 13
* see individual class descriptions for pre-requisite requirements

About theInstructors~

Louise Wheatley is a spinner, weaver, dyer, gardener, & forager based in Joppa, Maryland, where she grows & hand processes fiber, dye, & medicine plants in her garden and studio. She has been a fiber artist and textile conservator for over 50 years, specializing in pre-Colombian & other ancient textiles of the world. She does textile conservation for the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA), where her own fiber work has also been shown, and has taught for Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Louise is interested in the crosshairs of the medicinal use of plants & their natural dyes, and in making material things that have a medicinal quality that can’t be seen. She considers spinning & weaving, in their tedium, as "settling" processes more common to older times and much needed now. 

Lyrra Magda is a bioregional craftsperson specializing in skin fiber (as a hide tanner), and plant & animal fibers specific to the Southeastern US, such as dogbane, nettle, tree bark fibers, wild & domestic mammal furs, sinew, & North American silk moths. She is passionate about tool making, specifically from local wood & bone, believing there to be a unique soul within each handmade tool and material. In garment making she is particularly moved by the merger of animal, human, & plant, in the physical stitching & blending of animal hides; plant & tree tannins & dyes; animal fats, bone, sinew, gut, & fur; & plant fibers to create functional, durable, & beautiful garments born directly from the land, which can also disintegrate completely back into the land.

Spindle Making & Spinning
(3-day class over 3 weeks) 
Sundays Oct. 2, 9, & 16

Learn the art of drop spinning by first deeply understanding the spindle as a tool, by making your own. Over the course of 3 weeks, students will each carve a wooden spindle, and make several clay spindle whorls fired in a simple sawdust kiln. Learn how the size, weight, & shape of spindles affects the kind of fibers they can spin by experiencing many spindles with your hands & body. We'll begin practicing spinning with raw, unprocessed animal fibers like sheep's wool and alpaca, and eventually try cotton. Other topics covered will include carding, roving, double-plying yarn, and an introduction to spinning local wild animal fibers. Students who finish their spindles early can also try carving a crochet hook & crocheting with their finished yarn. 

This class will require a lot of knife-carving time both in class and in the weeks in between class days. Students will also be expected to practice spinning a lot at home throughout the two interim weeks. Spinning and spinning and spinning!

Expect to go home from the class with several finished spindles, plenty of precious hand-spun yarn, and the body memory & ease to spin for a lifetime. 

Dogbane 1: Processing
(1-day class) 
Saturday Oct. 29

NOTE: The Dogbane I & II classes have been cancelled. For those students wanting to learn dogbane fiber processing, dogbane stalks will be included in the Nettles class on Nov 13.

*pre-requisite: students must already know how to drop spin & bring their own lightweight spindle appropriate for fine spinning. If you do not know how to drop spin, please take the "Spindle Making & Spinning" class in October.

Meet one of the greatest fiber plants of the Mid-Atlantic region--dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum)--in the field. Learn how to harvest Autumn dogbane stalks, and then spend the day learning to process them into clean and finely combed fibers similar to flax. We'll practice hand-twined cordage making from dogbane fibers, fine spinning with lightweight drop spindles, and also thread-making for sewing. 

Prepare to sink into methodical handiwork for most of the day. This processing work can be rough on the fingers! Students will go home with a thorough knowledge of hand processing dogbane fiber for any uses, some finely spun fiber, a sample of cordage, and plenty of extra stalks to take home for more practice.

Dogbane 2: Twined Baskets
(1-day class) 
Sunday Oct. 30

NOTE: The Dogbane I & II classes have been cancelled. For those students wanting to learn dogbane fiber processing, dogbane stalks will be included in the Nettles class on Nov 13.

*pre-requisite- Dogbane 1: Processing. (Students do not need to have experience with drop spinning in order to take this class.) 

Practice an intermediate level skill of twining using dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum) fibers. After processing clean fibers from dogbane stalks as learned in Dogbane 1: Processing, students will spend the day making miniature sized soft baskets using a free-form method of twining that practices a lot of layering in & splicing of fibers, and finer finger dexterity. This twining technique, once learned, can be applied to making larger sized baskets or soft bags from dogbane, and also to the use of many other fibers. 

This is detailed & entrancing handiwork! This class is suitable for those students already comfortable with hand-twining for cordage making and wanting to take that skill to the next step. 

(1-day class) 
Sunday Nov. 6

Get to know yucca (Yucca filamentosa), a local fiber plant that is unique in being accessible to harvest for all twelve months of the year. We'll harvest fresh yucca leaves and then spend the day processing the leaf fibers by hand using both the fresh scraping method and the boiling method. Students will have the opportunity to practice hand-twining cordage from yucca fibers with lots of splicing, and will also gain an understanding of rope making and the magic & science of twist for increasing fiber strength.  

Prepare to sink into methodical handiwork for most of the day. In addition to processing fibers, students will also get to experience hands-on the saponifying action of the yucca plant and and its use as fresh "soap."