Fibrecamp & First Wheel


July, 1999
After work Thursday I quickly packed up and headed to get Darlene Barr for
our trip to Lake Annis,
Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. We met up with Brenda, Pia and Marilyn and
got on the highway.

We arrived three hours later just in time to set up our tent and get
everyone else settled in the cabin. Of
course the first thing on our minds was spinning, the wheels came out even
before the beds were made.

After a night of rain Darlene and I were only slightly damp and ready for a
full day of spinning. I was off
to the beginners spinning and she to the blending workshop.

The Fibrecamp is held at the property of Gwen Hewey-Parsons and her husband
Buck. Gwen instructed
the blending and Nelda Davis from New Jersey, USA had made the trip to teach
the beginners.

Our first day way entirely on the spindle, getting a feel for how much the
fibre can handle. I had been using
a low whorl spindle for several months and was amazed at the difference
between the two.

I learned that my drafting methods were a little less then perfect. What a
difference, my drop spindle
doesn’t drop nearly as much as it used to.
Darlene, Brenda, Pia and Pauline were put to work in the blending workshop.
Gwen had them making
color wheels and blending the primary colours with different bases. The
blending group worked well into
the evening on their projects.

Our second day of spinning was on the wheel. I had only used a borrowed
wheel to make two skeins
so this was pretty new territory for me. We got to try a variety of
fibres, and different types of wheels.
I learned proper posture, drafting, treadling. I came away amazed at the
way in which different crimps,
staple lengths, wheels among other things affect the end result of a
spinning project.

The second day the advanced group worked on blending different fibres.
Things such as hemp and silk,
or Llama and Jacob. Colour blending turned out some incredible results.
At right you can see some of the blending that took place down at the
cottage. There was a line up for the
drum carder most of the evening.

The working environment didn’t hurt the mood. Who could resist spending a
day spinning in the country
on a screened in porch.
On the last day I attended Fibrecamp we did fibre preparation. We went
through combing, carding, and
flicking. We used dog combs and a variety of commercial flickers and hand
carders. I had only used a
dog comb in the past so this was new to me. Using the carders for the first
time I felt rather ackward. Nelda
really packed in a lot of information, and sent us home with samples of a
variety of breeds to work with.

So that’s it for my Fibrecamp weekend. Brenda, Pia and Marilyn stayed on
Monday and Tuesday for the
solar dyeing,. Unfortunately it was overcast but they had a great time

Thanks so much to Gwen for a wonderful time and all your hospitality. To
Nelda, for coming up and
showing everyone the ropes. To the Atlantic Spinners and Handweavers for
the bursary which allowed
me to attend. I can’t wait until next year.


After my incredible weekend at Fibrecamp my enthusiasm for spinning was a
bit intensified.

The instructor for the beginners workshops, Nelda Davis waS coming to my
area to research a spinning
wheel and I invited her to stay at my home.

Saturday morning we got up and headed to a local antique store where I had
seen a great wheel for sale at
what seemed to be a low price.
When we arrived Nelda immediately started taking things apart, checking the
wheel from top to bottom.
She was very thorough, explaining to me what she was looking for the whole

It was her opinion that the wheel was built in the late 1700’s or early 1800
‘s. The rim of the wheel is one
peice, and it is nearly all original. She felt that the accelerated head
was slightly newer then the wheel
There are a few things that need repariing. There is a small peg missing
that keeps the head from
turning, and the whorl is metal as opposed to wood.

I decided to take the plunge, when would I ever have the chance to shop for
wheels with a collector and
teacher again?

We brought it home and started to spin right away.
Thanks so much to Nelda for helping me with this purchase. I’ve looked at
antique wheels before, but the
price and my lack of knowledge always made me back off. With Nelda’s help I
was able to make the right
choice and found a beautiful wheel. I’m still working on drafting with one
hand, and I haven’t put the
drive band on the accelerated head yet, but I’m having fun.

Hope I haven’t bored you all, but I’m just so excited. I spent yesterday
spinning on my drop spindle with four other ladies and preparing a warp for
the blanket I’m going to weave for my husband. What a wonderful day, we
ate, we talked and best of all we got to spin all day.

Julie Rosvall
Wolfville, NS

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