This past weekend I took a 2.5 day workshop with Sarah Swett that was all about learning to see values, called The Value of Wool.

We worked with four colors of CVM from The Spinning Loft’s massive fleece stash, and knit, embroidered and needled pointed our way to being value savvy.

Let me first say that the idea of this class – really, really detailed work, slowly building color values from white to dark brown, sounds like the worst possible type of class for me, close to agony for where I am in my spinning and thinking about spinning right now . In fact if Sarah Swett hadn’t taught it I probably wouldn’t have taken it.

As soon as I sat down and Sarah started talking, I knew I would learn an incredible amount about working with wool in various fibery media, not just value.

We had 4 colors of CVM and a tiny bit of indigo dyed blue to work with.

Our fiber

Our fiber

We made rolags in a value scale

Sarah's rolags

Sarah’s rolags

And spun them

Value range and tiny yarn balls for knitting

Value range and tiny yarn balls for knitting

We knit a bit of Fair IsleĀ  and did embroidery with our yarns. Sarah would let us know what goal was for each section and then let us get there how we wished. It was a wonderful and freeing way to have a workshop. Sarah walked around answering questions about any of her work or the work we were doing. She is a wealth of creativity and works very hard at her art with great joy.

Sarah surveys

Sarah surveys

I was astonished to see how many people in my class had embroidered and done needlepoint before – their work was beautiful. I guess I’m the odd ball not having been raised doing fiber, not even touching it until my late 20’s. I’ve bought an embroidery class at Creativebug, my summer project.

I did like the work I did on my needlepoint. We did tiny 2″x3″ self portraits. We started self portraits, I don’t know if anyone finished.

beginnings of a self portrait

beginnings of a self portrait

My favorite part? Overspun singles for curls



It was an enlightening workshop. The type where the thinking and the learning digs in deeply. I know I’ll continue using handspun for needlework. We’ll see how the value thinking manifests itself.

Not familiar with Sarah Swett’s work? She has a fantastic website that showcases her tapestries, knitting and needlework.

There was fleeces shopping over the weekend too. My fellow classmates managed to buy 50 pounds of raw fleece!

Fleece alley at The Spinning Loft

Fleece alley at The Spinning Loft

What did you learn this week?

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4 Responses to Jillian’s Spinning: Sarah Swett Exploded My Brain

  1. Valerie says:

    Great post, Jillian. I didn’t get to see your curls in class.
    Greg definitely finished his self portrait. I think a couple others did too.

  2. Greg says:

    Indeed a great post, Jillian! Wasn’t that a grand workshop?

    And yep—like Valerie says, my bicep self-portrait is All Done. A trip to the framer’s and the BF’s birthday present will be taken care of.

  3. Ellen says:

    Wow – Sara’s work is so inspirational. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Janine says:

    Loved meeting you, Jillian! My mind is still buzzing from the workshop!

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