November 15, 2017

NEXT MEETING: NOV. 29, 2017, 7 PM


Stephany Wilkes (info about Stephany at

Sheep Shearing Stories

This topic focuses on sheep themselves, the shearing (wool removal) process, and what happens immediately after a shearing (how the wool is handled and where it goes next). Major points include differences in sheep breeds, appropriate climate, and the fibers they produce; sheep health, basic sheep care and well being; a walk through of a humane shearing process and why it’s designed the way it is; basic sheep handling and anatomy; presentation of shearing tools and proper attire; and funny stories from the farm (including sheep escapes and more). Raw wool samples from a variety of breeds are included.


  • Nov. 29. Treadles meeting "Stephany Wilkes, Sheep Shearing Stories"
  • Various Fibershed events and classes this fall
  • Dec. 9 Treadles' Annual Holiday Luncheon. 11 am. Vilija's house. Hand made lamb ornament exchange. Bring a dish to share for lunch.
  • Jan. 31. Treadles meeting at the Library

CNCHnet Winter 2017 had the history of Treadles printed. Since I wrote it, I feel free to include it here in our blog for anyone who never goes to the CNCH website!


A chance meeting in 1990 between a spinner, Patrick McGinnis, and a member of Diablo Weavers, Naomi Holt, began the legacy of what became our guild — Treadles to Threads. Just a few spinners at first, meeting at each others homes occasionally, to share spinning knowledge, wool, and trying out each others’ wheels, was soon organized into monthly meetings to have “Show & Tell”, continued shared expertise, invited guests and speakers and teaching others their craft.

By February of 1991, we published our first newsletter and began to make plans to join CNCH. This very casual group then needed to develop By-Laws and to actually have “officers”. We came up with the following officers list: Shepherd [president], Sheep Dog [Vice President], Shearer [Treasurer], Little Bo Peep [Hostess], Rumplestilskin [Programs and Special Events Chair].

Dues were only enough to pay for the newsletter, and if a paid speaker was invited, those who attended that particular meeting shared the cost. Officers were to hold their position till they no longer wanted it. Ah, those were the days!

Today, a bit more organized, the Guild is still a very inclusive and casual group. Treadles is still primarily a group of spinners with spinning related programs. One by one, however, many of our members have also been drawn over to the “Dark Side” by becoming weavers with actual looms. All the better to use up all that hand spun.

Through the years the Guild has often been invited to participate at public fiber arts demonstrations, to local schools to teach the children about spinning, and to various local museums. The Contra Costa County Fair was always a great place to put up a yearly booth and sit and demonstrate our craft to visitors. 

Special projects over time have included;
Web Slingers West Sheep to Shawl team, 2002
  • Spinning at the Winery at Retzlaff Winery in Livermore. 2017 was the 20th anniversary of this popular event.
  • Seminars and workshops on Hemp even before it became popular
  • Wool studies of many breeds of sheep with the latest being a year long study of “Rare and Endangered Breeds of Sheep”
  • Annual Dye Days held in SPRING after we finally realized that no matter what summer day we picked it always turned out to be the hottest day of summer.
  • Sheep to Shawl competitions with our team “Web Slingers West”
  • Handmade sheep ornament exchange every December
  • Hand-spun Flax to Linen Towel, a project we’ve now done twice. The first time one weaver wove all the participants linen into towels [14 of them} The second time each spinner wove their own on a loom set up at Walnut Creek’s Civic Arts Weaving Studio.
  • Monday Spinning. Anyone who can, comes every Monday to spin, talk, drink tea and teach newbies to spin.
  • The Will & Kate Project. Almost every member donated hand spun to weave a thank-you afghan for Will and Kate Taylor for being our “Shepherds” for many years.

The most vast and rewarding project was the Guild’s participation in the “Knitting Project for Victims of War in Former Yugoslavia” in 1995. All yarn collected on a National basis throughout the U.S.A. was distributed by the International Rescue Committee to women’s groups in refugee camps and collective centers. 

It was hoped the knitting could help ease the frustration of the long, idle hours many were enduring during the war. Withe a shortage of yarn, it was said women would un-ravel what they had knit the day before just to have something to do.

Treadles collected over 600 pounds of donated yarn. Only full, new skeins could be sent, so members spent many hours skeining good yarns and adding new labels so that it looked brand new. 

150 pounds of that yarn was shipped by the Croatian Catholic Church of San Jose to the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women located in Massachusetts. The rest was the responsibility of Treadles’ treasury. Glimakra Looms/Unicorn Books graciously offered to ship through their shipping agent which would save us 45%. The Guild did make a plea for donations and the local community responded.
600 pounds of yarn set to go. 1995.
JoAnn Bronzan, second from left, 
organised the project.
The donated yarn could be used by the women for personal use or for knitted goods to sell. During a visit by a volunteer from the Women’s Commission to a refugee site, one of the women there said she had knitted 30 pair of socks in the past week, from some of the donated yarn, to sell. When asked how she could knit so many, she replied matter-of-factly, “My daughter needs new shoes.”
CNCH Conference  Monterey1995.
Conference isn't just for seminars and workshops!

Several of our charter members and early members are still active in the Guild which speaks to the casual and helpful nature of the people in this group. We really like what we do, and we really like each other as people.

Diablo Weavers has an exhibit on display at the Orinda Library in Orinda for the month of November. There are several members of Treadles who belong to both our spinner's guild and to the weaver's guild. If you're in the area, stop in and take a look at the weavings on display.


This tea cozy would be nice made in the natural colors of some of the samples of our handspun wool from the Endangered Sheep project from last year. Or actually any small bits of yarn you have laying around. It would make a terrific Christmas Gift for someone, or even for yourself. The pattern is a free download from Lion Brand Yarns.


 20 sts + 26 rows = about 4 in. (10 cm) over Garter Rib.
Match your yarns to whatever needle size you need. 


kfb (knit into front and then back)

An increase worked as follows:
1. Knit the next st through the front loop, but do not remove the st from your left hand needle.
2. Knit the same st once more, this time inserting your needle through the back loop of the st. You will have created 2 loops (sts) on your right hand needle.
3. Drop the st from your left hand needle – you have increased 1 st.

M1 (make 1) An increase worked by lifting horizontal thread lying between needles and placing it onto left needle. Knit this new stitch through the back loop – 1 st increased.

sk2p (slip­k2tog­pass slipped st over) 

A double decrease worked as follows:
1. Insert right needle as if to knit, and slip the next st from the left needle to the right needle.
2. Knit the next 2 sts together.
3. With tip of left needle, lift the slipped st (the 2nd st on right needle) up and over the k2tog (first st on right needle) and off the needle – you have decreased 2 sts.

French Knot Thread needle and bring from back to front through knitted piece. Wrap yarn around needle 3 times, insert needle back into knitted piece close to where it emerged. Tighten knot.


Garter Rib (worked over a multiple of 4 sts + 2 additional sts) Row 1 (RS): Knit.
Row 2: *P2, k2; rep from * to last 2 sts, p2.
Rep Rows 1 and 2 for Garter Rib.

K2, p2 Rib (worked over a multiple of 4 sts + 2 additional sts) Row 1: K2, *p2, k2; rep from * to end of row.
Row 2: K the knit sts and p the purl sts.
Rep Row 2 for K2, p2 Rib.

1. Two pieces are worked in simple stitches to create a stretchy Cozy. 
2. Pieces are seamed, leaving openings for tea spout and handle.
3. Flowers and Leaves are made separately, then sewed to top of Cozy.

COZY (make 2)
Cast on 38 sts.
Work in K2, p2 Rib for 6 rows.
Change to Garter Rib and work until piece measures about 5 in. (13 cm) from beg, end with a WS row as the last row you work.
Work in K2, p2 Rib for 2 rows.
Shape Top
Next Row Decrease (RS): *K2, p2tog; rep from * to last 2 sts, k2 – at the end of this row you will have 29 sts.
Next 3 Rows: K the knit sts and p the purl sts.
Next Row Decrease (RS): *K2tog, p1; rep from * to last 2 sts, k2tog ­ 19 sts.
Next Row: K the knit sts and p the purl sts.
Rep last row until piece measures about 7 in. (18 cm) from beg.
Cut yarn, leaving a long yarn tail.
Thread tail through remaining sts and pull to gather.
Knot securely.

LEAVES (make 6 )
Cast on 9 sts.
Rows 1, 3 and 5 (RS): K3, sk2p, k3 – you will have 7 sts at the end of this row. Rows 2 and 4: K1, M1, k2, p1, k2, M1, k1 – 9 sts.
Row 6: K3, p1, k3.
Row 7: K2, sk2p, k2 – 5 sts.
Row 8: K2, p1, k2.
Row 9: K1, sk2p, k1 – 3 sts.
Row 10: K1, p1, k1.
Row 11: Sk2p.
Fasten off rem st.

FLOWERS (make 7,  
Cast on 6 sts.
Row 1 (RS): Knit.
Row 2 and all WS Rows: Purl.
Rows 3, 5 and 7: Kfb across – at the end of Row 7, you will have 48 sts.
Bind off and cut yarn, leaving a long tail.
Twist piece to form a spiral flower shape. Thread yarn tail into blunt needle, then sew a few sts to secure the spiral, knot securely.

Sew the 2 Cozy pieces together at one side, beginning at lower edge and sewing for about 1 1/2 in. (4 cm). Leave next 3 1/2 in. (9 cm) unsewn, then sew remainder of side closed. 
Rep on opposite side.

Sew Flowers to top of Cozy by embroidering 3 French knots with contrast color yarn on each Flower, working through center of Flower and through top of Cozy.
Sew Leaves as desired around Flowers.
Weave in ends.

k = knit
k2tog = knit 2 together
p = purl
p2tog = purl 2 together
rep = repeat(s)(ing)
st(s) = stitch(es)