A “Clearing” of the Mind

It’s time to update the blog…there is so much to talk about when it comes to fibers! And I have a story to tell about a magical place that I visited recently during one of my trips to teach a spinning class. It seems that everything happens as it should and this is no exception.

The place?  The Clearing in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin (in beautiful Door County). The Clearing is a residential folk school offering week-long classes throughout the summer as well as shorter workshops and winter classes. How fortunate I am to have friends of the Fiber Garden who promote my teaching. Last summer, one of those friends visited The Clearing to take a class. The director found out that she was a spinner. It turns out that The Clearing has wanted to offer spinning but didn’t know of a teacher. She recommended me and…the rest is history!

Jens Jensen, founder of The Clearing, “believed that environments have a profound effect on people and that an understanding of one’s own regional ecology and culture is fundamental to all ‘clear’ thinking”. The Clearing campus has no internet, we are asked to limit cell phones use to important calls only, and phones must have their rings muted. All of this to help us escape from our hectic day to day lives and allow for “a clearing of the mind.” The Clearing provides renewal!

What was so magical?? Everything! Where to begin…

Perhaps it was the tranquility as I walked up the path to my living quarters for the week…old stone buildings that have been impeccably maintained with flagstone paths throughout.

Lodging at The Clearing

Or when I took my first peek inside my own private abode where handmade quilts were on the bed and three windows kept me connected with the outdoor surroundings.

Inside The Clearing cabin

Or could it have been my daily “commute” through the woods to the studio?

Path to workshop

Or maybe it was the Workshop where we spent our days spinning and dyeing…


Perhaps it was the camaraderie among this wonderful group of beginning spinners. They’re showing off their very first skeins around their necks!

beginning spinning group

It could have been the dragon in the tree along the path to the Workshop!

dragon in tree

The evening walks of the labyrinth?


I know! It was the dining room tables beautifully set with blue willow china…each meal a culinary delight! (Honestly, the food was amazing!)

breakfast table with blue willow china

The light shining through the lodge window signals the end of another day and a wish for a restful night.

light shining through window

It was, indeed, a magical week! My thanks to Faye for recommending me, Mike (Executive Director) for inviting me to be a part of your teaching staff, and most of all THANKS to the five amazing women who were part of this Clearing “first”! I look forward to returning again to help build the spinning program at the school.

beginning spinning students

To see all of the photos from Beginning Spinning at The Clearing, please visit my facebook page. And please be sure and subscribe to my blog posts (in the right column) to receive them via email.

Next stop?? Fargo North Dakota for the Fargo Fiber Arts Festival!

Favorite Fall in New England and Canada…A Spinner’s Color Paradise

New England in the fall…what could be more inspiring to spinners and fiber artists? You, youNew England-Canada Cruise Mapr family and friends, and your spinning community are invited to join the Fiber Garden for a nine night New England/Canada cruise in October 2015. It sounds so far away and yet planning early is key in order to get space reserved on board the cruise ship for this popular itinerary. The Liberty of the Seas is one of the ships in the fabulous Freedom Class of ships in the Royal Caribbean International fleet. You can ice skate, rock climb, or surf on board! If you prefer activity on the milder side, you can stroll the shops along the Royal Promenade, attend a program, enjoy a movie, or find a lounge chair and watch the ocean roll by. And did I mention spinning?? There will be plenty of time for spinning including three full days of workshops at sea. Complete details and reservation forms can be found at http://www.fibergarden.com/travel/spinners-cruise-october-2015/. Although we’re more than a year away from the sail date, deposits are due by December 15, 2014. Please start planning and saving your pennies so you can be part of this grand fiber adventure at sea!

20 Years & Counting!

Twenty years. Two decades. One-fifth of a century. More than 1/3 of my lifetime. Any way you look at it, 20 years is a long  time! And that’s how old the Fiber Garden is this month! In April of 1994, Mary, Sue, and Sherry arrived enthusiastic and ready to learn to spin in the very first Beginning Spinning workshop held at my first home. Each of them purchased a spinning wheel when the class ended. Then came a long line of others who made their way to rural Black River Falls and soon became fiber friends. Within a few years “we” had outgrown that house. A tiny bedroom was squished full of fibers and supplies, spinning classes were held in the living room, weaving classes took over the dining room and…there simply was no room left for a person to live!

On to house #2 tucked back into the woods with a small barn-like outbuilding that became the first mercantile. Classes continued in the living room, and we even did some dye classes with the carpeted floor! It was a wonderful place, but…”we” outgrew that one too!

And finally we found a home that will be more permanent. (We’re nine years and counting here!) The list of workshop offerings has grown, fiber friends have come from all over the country to develop their talents in spinning, weaving, and dyeing…and twenty years have passed. Most businesses as small as the Fiber Garden never survive more then a few years. And that can only mean one thing…the Fiber Garden has the best friends in the world! “Thank you” is not a big enough phrase.

So on to our next decade. We’ll see where it leads us. No doubt there will many more hours of enjoying the fiber arts together both here in Black River Falls and perhaps out on the open seas or traveling the highways and byways of Europe or other “fibery” destinations!

(For information on the 20th anniversary SALE-abration April 5 and 6, visit our Facebook page and read the post.)



Hand Spinners Cruise Now Accepting Reservations!

I am anxious to sail away with you for seven nights beginning September 21, 2014 aboard Royal Caribbean International’s magnificent Allure of the Seas! Complete information about the cruise, including reservation forms, are now available on the hand spinners cruise page. Don’t delay!  Space is limited and the final deadline for deposit payments is April 1, 2014! Please share this information freely with your fiber arts friends and guilds. Be sure and contact me if you have any questions. I’m here to help us all have a great travel experience spinning and cruising!

The holidays are merry and bright at the Fiber Garden!

Visitors to Fiber Garden mercantile selecting a knitting patternThe first weekend of the Holiday Country Retreat is behind us. Thank you to all who visited to soak in the holiday atmosphere and support small business! You will see from the photo that we had some enthusiastic families!  This one was busy searching for the perfect hat pattern to knit…they found it! There’s still one more weekend ahead. The Fiber Garden will continue the holiday retreat on Saturday, December 7 from 10-5 and on Sunday, December 8 from noon-4.  Stop in and say hello, check out the goodies in the mercantile, check out the goodies to eat and drink upstairs in my home, and plan to stay awhile and relax. You are welcome to bring along your knitting, spinning, etc. and enjoy a retreat day during the holidays!  Thank you for your support!