Retreat Weekend 

Our SnB group organized a weekend retreat at Esther’s Place in Big Rock, Illinois.  Myself, 3 others from the group, and a friend of one (who is a weaver) joined together for some fun fiber this weekend.  This shop focuses on featuring and promoting wool grown in Illinois, and local production in general.  It is not only a shop, but a B&B, which is how we came to stay the weekend out there.  We started by shopping for yarn (what else) along the way at Wool & Company in Geneva, and visited The Fine Line in St. Charles.

When we arrived at Esther’s Place we were greeted with appetizers and cool drinks.



After a very nice dinner (which they graciously tailored to the special diet needs of some), we started our evening class of needle felting.   We worked on Needle Felting sheep shaped sachets (say that fast 3 times).  I have never been interested in pursuing needle felting, but I must admit that it was fun, and a great stress reliever.  Natasha, one of the owners, had some amazing creations that she had done with needle felting.  While ours look rather elementary, there are amazing things that can be accomplished with this process.  I don’t think that I will ever be at her level.  Too many things to knit…

Here are the finished projects from the 5 of us, mine is the one with the multi-color curls all over.  I think that I was channeling Lloyd:


Then, we stayed up knitting, drinking wine and talking.  In the morning, after a wonderful farm style breakfast, we sat down to learn to spin wool using the drop spindle.  This was the real reason that we went all the way out there (a good hour drive from Oak Park assuming no traffic).  It was challenging, but really fun.  I need to master this, then move along to getting a spinning wheel.  This is something that I have wanted to learn for a very long time.  I think that I can convince a couple of people to join me in driving out there to take a spinning class this winter.






And my first attempt at spinning, we used wool from the Fresian Milk Sheep, very soft with long fibers (to make it easier for us beginners).  2 hours work for a few yards of spun, uneven yarn. Shown in a ball before being plied, and hanging to dry at home:



I’m hooked!