From the minute my plane landed in Kansas City, MO I was excited and also apprehensive to arrive at The Harveyville Project in Harveyville, Kansas a town of less than 400 people. I learned about “Yarn School” on the internet and many of my knitting friends thought I was crazy going to Kansas. I proved them wrong and glad I went with my instincts to attend a school that included Dyeing, Spinning and Weaving. I wasn’t the only newbie but most of the attendees I learned return year after year and now I know why. Where else can you spend 5 fiber filled days with all the supplies you need and the time to explore them?
Upon arrival, I was greeted at the door and checked in. I requested a single room being solo and having never visited Kansas. Most attendees were in group rooms that were converted classrooms. I was in the ticket office right by the front door and outside the yarn school office and very well stocked yarn store. I ended up really liking my little room and would request it again if I were to go back solo.
The arrival day is mainly check-in and get situated. Those that had been there before knew right away what to do. Which was to setup there spinning wheels and form a large circle in the gymnasium. I could tell many of them new each other and were glad to meet up again. I on the other hand did not know how to spin and never had spun. I sat in a solo chair in the circle watching the others, trying not to look awkward. Luckily a young women sat down beside me, also without a wheel, and we started to chat we both took out our knitting. Being from Kansas she knew a little bit more about how things worked than I did. At the same time we were the outliers in that moment but it would not last for long. Nikol, the organizer and developer of the Harveyville Project was in the kitchen making our welcome buffet which I think may have been served around 8 PM. Which would come to be the standard dinner time for the next few days. The food overall was plentiful, very good and well worth the wait.
Spinning and Yarn Dyeing
The first day of formal instruction was an introduction to dying and spinning. The dye lab was in the high school science room. The beginners like me, were in the morning dye lab which was an amazing experience as we learned how to dye roving with acid dyes. Our instructor Adrian Bizilia of Hello Yarn, did a comprehensive job of demonstrating and making sure we were all successful. It was my first real hands on dying and I think I did pretty good. Next time I will come more prepared for the dye sessions with color ideas.
That afternoon, we went on a field trip to a lama farm where they provided us lunch and an overview of lama life. Upon our return was my introduction to spinning with our instructor, Jennifer Schermerhorn. We started out with the drop spindle and explained drafting. We also learned how to card the fiber and make card batts. The card batts were pretty cool to made and if I had a carding machine it would be fun to pursue more, the drop spindle I did not enjoy too much. BUT, I realized the next day if I had spent more time on the drop spindle I may have been more successful my first time at the wheel. I need to learn to take the teachers advice.
The next day, Saturday, the beginners had their first venture at a spinning wheel. This was not easy for me. I looked around the room at the people spinning and could not believe how relaxed they were and how difficult it was for me. I took deep breaths and decided I was unable to walk and chew gum at the same time. I kept trying and grew more frustrated therefore the worse my spinning. That night my legs ached from the peddles and I went to bed a failure but determined to try again.
The next day, Sunday, Jennifer patiently sat at the wheel with me coaching me through it and slowly the roving started twist, feed through the orifice and onto the spool. It was beautiful and at that point I fell in love with the Lendrum Spinning Wheel. I understand everyone has to find the wheel that works for them. I tried a few others but my heart and skill was with the Lendrum. It is a beautiful wood spinning wheel made in Canada out of maple and I am now a proud owner.
Sunday afternoon we had free time in the dye lab. A great opportunity to put into practice what we learned earlier and at the same time have Adrian’s expertise to help us mix and prepare the dyes. Now I was spinning and dyeing and I think it was at this moment that I started to feel the magic of yarn school.
Rigid Heddle Weaving School
The last two days were Rigid Heddle Weaving school. Most of the spinners had gone home and this was a smaller group. Very informative, we made place mats the first day and a sampler on the rigid heddle loom the second. Some even started a third warping.
The Fiber Community
Yarn School is in a rural school house with all the same amenities from your high years, lockers, desks, gymnasium, cafeteria, showers, bathrooms plus more. For someone that is true to their fitbit due to the size of the school I was able to get my steps in every day. The community is very welcoming and accommodates individual needs. Everyone comes with their own project plan and has the freedom to make it happen. I highly recommend the Yarn School for anyone that loves fiber, looking for inspiration and wants to learn new ways to create. From morning to midnight we were busy.
Click on the images below for descriptions.