Explore 4, “Special Topics” Format


February 18–21, 2018

Friday Harbor, Washington

Join me for a special topic Explore 4 retreat: my “Spin-to-Weave” retreat, generously sponsored by Ashford Wheels & Looms. We’ll spend four days exploring longwools and weft-faced fabrics, spinning yarns and then using them for weaving. Bring your own loom, or you can borrow one at the event!

Retreat participants gathered in the Lakedale great room
Retreat participants gathered in the Lakedale great room

These retreats are designed to provide an in-depth exploration of a special topic, while allowing ourselves plenty of time to relax and refresh.

Each morning we enjoy a fabulous breakfast and then gather in the great room of the Lakedale Resort, where we talk about the textiles: skills, tools, and philosophies. For this retreat, we’ll discover the elegance of simplicity: with just the two shafts of a rigid-heddle loom and a selection of lustrous longwool fibers, we’ll consider setts, weights of wefts, yarn structures, weave structures (color-and-weave, some tapestry, and soumak), and more. Our time will be relaxed and yet full of information and experience. Although there will be plenty of alternatives for experimenting with wefts while using a commercial warp, those with a hankering to do so may choose to spin warp as well in the later days of the retreat.

Our mornings are both talking and hands-on time: the fibers and techniques of the day are our companions in this journey. 

Fibers we’ll experience include:

  • Leicester Longwool (English Leicester), in brilliant colors—our primary wool

And in naturals, to experience some longwool varieties:

  • Lincoln or Cotswold
  • Teeswater or Wensleydale
  • Coopworth or Romney

We’ll have locks; combed top; and carded fibers, to explore the differences.

After the morning session, we break for lunch, catered for us by a fabulous chef using the best local ingredients, and then spend the afternoons enjoying our own individual explorations—nature walks around the island, trips to local points of interest, or more spinning and knitting or weaving time. Naps and massages can be located, too!

One of the views from English Camp, San Juan Island
One of the views from English Camp, San Juan Island

Each evening, after we gather again to enjoy a delicious dinner, we spin (or knit or crochet or weave) more together, and we review and I answer more questions about what we covered in the morning.

A few people stay up late spinning. Many take advantage of the peaceful environment to read a novel or go to bed early. Lakedale accommodates both solitude and companionship.


If you’d like to get away and immerse yourself in the craft you love and the fibers that make that craft possible, while in a richly restorative environment and community, join us on our next exploration.


The Details:

When: February 19–22, 2018 (arrive February 18, depart February 23)

Where: Lakedale Resort, Friday Harbor, Washington (click here to visit their website)

Who: This event accommodates new and experienced spinners. If you can spin a singles yarn and ply it, you’ll be able to keep up with our exploration without any difficulty.

What: A retreat for spinners who want to learn more about weaving with handspun yarn (looms provided, although with advance coordination you may bring your own). This is suitable for people who can spin but have not woven, who have woven but only have basic spinning skills, or have done both but want to play with it more. The focus will be on weft-faced weaves using longwool fibers, with thanks to Ashford Wheels & Looms for sponsoring this retreat. Discovering their dyed Leicester Longwool (English Leicester) fiber was what kicked this topic over into reality after Cat Bordhi suggested it to me.


  • $125 deposit/materials fee, due as soon as possible in order to hold your spot
  • $425 retreat fee, due about 1 month out from the event
  • Food: $220, payable to our caterer about 1 month out from the event
  • Lodging: At Lakedale Resort, about $385–$775 for the 2017 rates, depending on the options you choose (prices subject to change for 2018); includes breakfast

A note about looms:
We’ll be using rigid-heddle looms with 7.5- or 8-dent heddles. You may bring your own loom if you would like, and it can be rigid heddle or a standard type of loom. For planning purposes, we’d like to know if you definitely or maybe will be bringing your own loom (there is a place to indicate this on the registration form). For this retreat, most of us will be using commercial yarns for warp and I will be providing them. If you would like to warp your loom in advance, I will be able to let you know by several months in advance which yarn we will be using as well as the threading details, and you will be able to order your own supply in order to do that (you may want to put on a longer warp than we’ll be using on site, or simply to be ready to weave slightly faster). However, I expect most of us will be warping on site the first morning. I’ve had some requests from a few people who would like to also spin their own warp, and am working on a “choose your own adventure” structure for our four days together.

Click here to register for the Spring 2018 Explore 4 “Spin to Weave” Retreat.


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