Monday, May 31, 2010

Some new yarns from the new wheel

Aura tests 6-8

close -ups of test #6

Test #7White band, large whorl, no tension; Green band Large whorl, smallest drive wheel groove. Weak pull-in overall. Slow but steady for backward draw. Short draw also weak, but would leave lots of time to add in stuff or do pig-tails or other hand work. When I tightened the white band 4 turns, short draw felt more like an ordinary wheel. Long draw was easiest with increased tension. "Off the fold" was easiest w/ no tension

Test #8 White band on large whorl w/ no tension. Green band on medium whorl and smallest drive wheel groove. This was a lovely setting, making beautiful, beautiful long draw and very easy one-handed "Off the fold." Easy, easy in all four styles of drafting.

Aura tests 4-6

Test #4, White band still on large whorl, no tension. Green band large whorl middle drive wheel groove. Beautiful longdraw! Overall, a very easy setting

Test #5 White band the same, green band Medium Whorl, medium Drive wheel groove. Really hard draw-in...hard to get backward draw even. Needed to do a death grip on the short draw...when I drafted holding the yarn at a hard 90 degrees to the orifice, it was easier to do short draw. Long draw was easier, especially at 90 degrees. On the "from the fold" the draw in made evenness difficult, but tightening the white band tension by 4 discernible turns helped.
Test #6 White band the same. green band small whorl, middle groove in drive wheel. Very strong pull in, making spinning difficult. The long draw was OK, but got better control when I tightened the white band by 4 discernible turns. From the fold was wonderful, one handed. When I tightened the tension it became uneven.

Aura experiments #1-3 pictures

All tests were done with Brown Sheep Wool Company Mill End top. Spinning styles were backward draw, short forward draw, long draw (from rolags), and from the fold (usually one handed). The order of settings are: white tension band set on largest whorl w/ no tension combined with an arderly march through the settings for the green drive band, starting at the large whorl with the largest drive groove (test #1); medium whorl largest drive groove (test #2) ;small whorl, largest drive groove (test #3).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Aura experiments #1

Tonight I finished skein #1 of a commission, thus opening up the Majacraft Aura for experimentation.

Here is what I did:
I set the white tensioner band on the largest whorl, just tight enough to stay on
I set the green drive band on the largest whorl and largest drive wheel groove
The yarn path was through both the divet and the circular orifice

I got out the Brown Sheep Wool mill end brown & white striped top.

Short forward draw it was a bit hard to get the bobbin to take up at first. I actually started with a backward draw, trying to push lengths of yarn onto the bobbin w/o much luck. Switched to short forward (inch worm) and had no problem. I did tighten the tension a bit and then it went on handily. Very easy to get a fairly large single...a bit thick and thin as short draw is not my favorite, most practiced technique.

Long draw (and supported long draw) I made a rolag of the mill end top. It did not want to pull out quickly like I am used to. I tried to push it on the bobbin like I usually go. But, when I held the yarn taughtly, at a 90 degree angle to the orifice, it went on the bobbin fine. It was the slowest long draw I have ever done, but it would appear to be an advantage for things like spinning clouds of mohair around a core or self core spinning.

Spinning off the fold I expected similar results to longdraw, but fluffiness did not happen. However, I tightened the white tensioning band and was able to do one handed spinning as long as I held the yarn taughtly at a 90 degree angle to the round orifice.

Buy progressively tightening the white band, I was able to easily increase the diameter of the single. One wonders how much fluffier carded fiber would be? I think I was fighting the commercial preparation a bit.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Musings in the Gallery

Today was spent on promo for the Wool Market, yawning from lack of sleep, evaluating the results of the current show in the gallery, updating the website, interviewing several people for the potential new position of gallery associate in January, photographing fiber and recording dye results.
The work day flew by, with both Zach and I smiling as we we realized our work responsibilities were waning. He has finished 2 of his three jobs before grad school and I am almost to the sabbatical date! We are both waxing philosophical/nostalgic even though we will be working together another 2 months!

Leslie Sobels' show comes down after Memorial Day, but we will maintain our Monday hours, getting caught up on gallery admin and planning, web restructure and repair, generalized computer stuff! Our Fridays, which may occasionally become Thursdays or Wednesdays (call before you come), will be spent dying and cleaning out the basement cracks, crannies and crevices to make a fuller functioning lower studio.


The South Minneapolis Wild Wool Market
almost ready to go

The first market is Saturday, May 29, 10am-4pm. Light refreshments will be served.
Come join us for the fun!

The list of exhibitors so far:

Sue Hensel: batts, roving, yarn, Batt Your Own Wild Batt station and/or spinning demo
Kat Corrigan: Franken Sweaters and sewing demo
Pauline Mitchell: weaving, tapestry demo
Stefanie Moss: weavings from handyed yarn
Pam Angier: miscellaneous fiber goodness from the Fiber Studio

Friday, May 21, 2010

Wild Wool Market is coming

I have set up a rolling display for the upcoming South Minneapolis Wild Wool Market, happening May 29, 10-4. Yes, it IS Memorial Day Weekend...but we'll have fun anyways. Tonight it is under wraps for the gallery opening.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


One of the highlights of my New York trip was a day in the garment district. Silks and trims at wholesale! Here are some of the trims: tiny rick rack and 3 kinds of sequins. I wanted them all! Whoopee!
The day I got back, while desperately wanting to assemble my Aura, I had to make a delivery to the Textile Center. Dutifully I delivered the hand dyed bamboo. And then I visited my friends at the Weaver's Guild only to find a 4 harness loom at an unbeatable price. Now I did have a great Shepherd's Harvest this year. I was able to get the AUra without having to deplete savings. This was just not the day to buy a loom. So I went home with out it. The next morning I called and had them hold it for me;-) It is a little Schacht table loom, about 18" wide. It has been well loved...i.e. a bit beat-up. But someone cleaned it and restrung it and everything works just fine. All I need are lease sticks and time!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Aura, Aura, Oxenfree?

The Majacraft Aura arrived on Monday. I was sitting on the airplane at MSP, awaiting the gate, when I got the email. I drove out on Tuesday morning to get it and put it together pretty quickly. I haven't had much time to play...not as much as I would like. But this soon will pass.

I did a test run on soft spun singles which I then plied. Easy peasy. Then I plied singles with silk flower additions with another single and beaded Habu textile pink metallic thread. It was a bear for a variety of reasons: I was tired, it was dark, I could neither see nor feel the Habu thread and the tension band flipped off a couple of times and the silk flowers did not want to feed on. Readjusted myself, and the bands on the wheel, and most of the flowers whipped through the guides...just the remaining large ones got stuck.The completed yarn is very nice and the plying is much more even than usual.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Don't get my hackles up!

It is a Valkyrie hackle and that is Zach, my studio assistant and gallery associate. I don't think he looks appropriately terrified! It is a horribly beautiful tool!

Monday, May 10, 2010


Well, Shepherd's Harvest was a great success! Thank you all for making it fun! In the 4 or 5 years I have been doing this festival, I don't think I have ever encountered a crabby customer, nor, even, a crying child! Natural fiber is heap-big, powerful joy juice! Soon I will have my Aura! I have been told that it will ship this week from New Zealand! I also now have a very wide hackle! I got it from Mielke's Fiber Arts. The hackles are in production again, from 2 manufacturers....finally.

In my other, but rather closely related "Other life", I own and direct the Susan Hensel Gallery. Do take a good long look at the website to see what I have been doing for the last few years! The current show, Earth & Air by Leslie Sobel is our 40th! Wowsers! Times flies!

So, now, I ask myself,"What does it mean to BE Susan Hensel Gallery for 7 years?" Well, I will investigate that over the next 6 months! I will be taking a sabbatical! Regular programming of the gallery will be suspended June 1, 2010 -Dec 31, 2010. The regular programming of gallery shows will resume at that time with a solo show my Dean Ebben: IN THE HOUSE OF THE MINERAL SPIRITS. followed up by A Reader's Art and an Installation by Libby Soffer, Sara Christensen Blair& Gregory Blair and Debora Miller. But the gallery will not be silent. I will be focusing on my relationship to fiber and textiles in my personal art. Since I moved to Minneapolis 7 years ago, a transformation has been happening. I tell people that I was "bit by a sheep." I learned to spin on a drop spindle and spinning wheel not long after I got here. No matter what I do, no matter how I resist, the fiber keeps luring me away! My son thinks he'll come out to visit someday and find an urban sheep ranch! (I just heard that someone up the street was raided by animal control for raising goats in their apartment!) So, this summer and fall I will be spinning, weaving, studying in and around the fiber arts. Stay tuned!

I will study in the University of Minnesota Split Rock program with Adrienne Stone. I will attend the full week of SOAR, Spin Off Autumn Retreat. I may take some field trips to see fiber mills and who knows what else! It will be an exciting time!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Shepherd's Harvest with a goal!

I have dream! It is to own an Aura Wheel from Majacraft. So, day one of Shepherd's Harvest has gotten me part way there in the most enjoyable fashion! What could be more fun than enabling other happy fiber people to fulfill their dreams too? I spent the day selling and teaching from the booth about Wild Batts, spindling and "Lazy Felt". And I spent it with my newly engaged friend Carla who bought her first loom today. I bought alpaca fleeces. So, I ask you, "What could be better?"

Come by tomorrow if you are in the area. With or without purchases, it is a blast!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Shepherd's Harvest is 2 days away! he newest product I am bringing is hand painted bamboo. It is SOOOO pretty! And SOOO slippery! The hard part was figuring out how to package it so it can be handled without unwinding. I finally cut up some wild paisley chiffon and tied each ball up like a gift box! Hope this works! If you are interested in the bamboo, come early...the supply is very limited.

This year I also have Angelina fiber, dyed wool and cotton nebs, sari silk and yarn confetti for sale as Wild Batt additives to take home.

Try out the Batt Your Own Wild Batt station. AT the carding station, for an additional fee, you will be able to card up to 2 ounces of purchased Sue's Luxury Fiber at a time with additives such as angelina, firestar, nebs, yarn confetti, mohair (included in the price of carding.) It is too fun!