Sew Checklist: Navigating the Brochure and Prepping for Ticket Purchases

In anticipation of receiving your brochure of classes in the mail, here are a few tips to prepare you for online registration or, if you prefer, to mail in your class choices. Whether this is your very first Expo (welcome!) or your 34th, we hope you find the tips helpful.

Here are the types of learning experiences you can sign up for. Pre-registration is recommended for the hands-on classes.

One Needle – 45 minutes long and presented in a lecture/demo format.

Two Needle – 1.5 hour long classes offered. This year, we are offering a selection of hands-on project classes in addition to our traditional 90 minute lecture/demo classes. Additional supplies may be needed and kit fees are paid directly to the teacher on the day of class.

Three Needle – 2.5 hour long classes, hands on experiences with or without machines. Additional supplies may be needed and kit fees are paid directly to the teacher on the day of class.

Four Needle – 4 hour long classes only offered on Wednesday, February 28. You have your choice of taking a class using machines or a class that doesn’t require any equipment. And, thanks to our generous sewing machine dealers, machines are provided to use while in the classroom. Additional supplies may be needed and kit fees are paid directly to the teacher on the day of class.

As you browse your brochure and begin planning your Expo schedule, we recommend that you:

  • Highlight the classes that you are interested in and plan out your desired schedule. We highly recommend that you have a schedule planned before getting online to purchase tickets. You may want to have back-up selections as well in case you encounter a sold out class.
  • Check with friends to see what classes they are interested in.
  • Use the registration form on the back of the brochure to keep yourself organized.
  • List the class numbers with the alphabet. For example, 1803 is a class that is offered on A=Thursday, B=Friday, C=Saturday, and D=Sunday.
  • Leave time between classes to have a snack and/or have lunch. For safety reasons, food is not allowed in the classrooms.
  • Leave time to shop and visit!

Now that you are prepared and have your time at Expo planned, here are some helpful tips for purchasing your tickets online:

  • Opening of the ticket office will be announced soon. Stay tuned.
  • Have the class number, day, and time on hand.
  • CORRECTION: You will NOT need your username and password if you are a returning customer.
  • Utilize the search bar at the top of the ticketing page to navigate to the classes you want. This year you can search by class number, teacher name, and class title to find exactly what you need!
  • Click on the class picture to open the full class details.
  • Be sure to have your credit card ready (The Expo gladly accepts Visa and MasterCard only). Orders may time out if left unattended too long.
  • You can check out related classes at the bottom of the page for other great class suggestions!

Once tickets are purchased online, you will receive an email confirmation of your order, tickets will be processed, and you will receive another email confirming shipment of your order. This process may take up to 3 weeks.

We are looking forward to a wonderful 2018 Expo and want to wish everyone a very happy holiday season!

Please Note: Our office will be closed December 23 , 2017 through January 1, 2018.

Sheep to Yarn

Looking out at a fluffy flock of sheep in full fleece easily creates images of soft, cozy sweaters and scarves. But how does that happen? It seems almost magical that wool can transfer from the sheep’s back to our own. The process is actually quite simple and has changed very little in fundamentals since ancient times.

First, of course, comes shearing. When a sheep is shorn, the shearer starts at the sheep’s underleg and belly area, and eventually works their way up to the center back on each side. This causes the sheep’s fleece to come off in one big blanket. It’s truly amazing to see a relatively dainty sheep emerge from that enormous blanket! Shearing day is the happiest day of the year for the flock. While they may not entirely enjoy being sheared (much the same way toddlers don’t enjoy haircuts), as soon as the wool is removed they act like frisky lambs, and run to the nearest fence for a really good scratch.

Because of the shearing pattern, the least desirable sections of wool (legs, belly, neck, head, tail) are located roughly around the edges of the fleece. Removing these sections from the outer edges is called skirting. For large scale commercial yarns, which will be chemically processed to remove any vegetable matter or other debris, this basic skirting is sufficient. But to produce a high quality yarn from naturally processed wools, a second skirting is performed.

For second skirting, the fleece is opened up onto a skirting table. Skirting tables are covered with a surface that allows dirt and vegetation to fall through, while supporting the fleece. Some use wood slats, or even pallets. Once the fleece is opened, it is carefully picked through by hand, removing as much visible vegetation as possible and further sorting the fleece itself. Sometimes shearing results in small, undesirable bits of wool called short cuts. These occur due to the shears passing over the same area more than once. These need to be picked out, and the fleece is inspected to ensure that the crimp and staple length are consistent. All fleeces for Spoiled Sheep Yarn go through this second skirting process.

The thoroughly skirted fleeces then need to be washed. Washing the fleece must be done with care to remove the suint (sheep sweat, dirt, and grease) and excess lanolin from the fleece, without over agitating it which could possibly cause the fleece to felt. This usually takes more than one careful wash in mild soap to ensure cleanliness.

After washing, the fleece is “picked”. Whether done by hand or machine, the picking process pulls the clumps of wool apart to make it easier to be combed or carded. This process also helps to remove more of the tiny bits of vegetation hiding in the wool.

Now, the wool is ready to be carded. Carding is basically a process of brushing the wool to separate and align the fibers so that they are easy to spin. This is done with fine metal teeth resembling slightly bent hairs that are embedded into a cloth backing. The carding cloth is attached either to hand held wooden paddles or round revolving drums on a carding machine. Either way the process is the same. The carded fiber may be removed from the carding drums (or hand cards) as sheets known as “batts” (this is where quilt batting comes from), or formed into long rope-like sections called roving. Most spinners prefer to spin from roving, as it is easier and faster than spinning directly from batts.

Once carded, the fiber is ready to spin. For machine-spun yarn such as Spoiled Sheep Yarn, the roving will next go through a pin-drafting process. Pin drafting is an additional combing process that helps to further align the fibers and make it more uniform for the spinning machines. The resulting fiber is formed into a thinner, smoother “rope” of material called a sliver.

Spinning is the simplest part of the process, but requires the most skill. Whether spun by hand or machine, spinning is the act of twisting the wool fiber. The skill required is feeding the fiber in a uniform amount and controlling the amount of twist so that it is consistent. The initial yarn created is called a “single”, as it has not been plyed with another yarn. Usually at least two yarns are twisted, or plied together. Yarns are plied in the opposite direction that the individual yarns were spun. So if the initial yarn fibers were twisted in a clockwise direction, the plies will be twisted together in a counter-clockwise direction. This locks the yarns together and helps to distribute the tension evenly so that the yarn does not twist when knitted and cause the garment to distort.

Finally, the plied yarn is washed or steamed to “set” the twist. Once dry, the yarn is ready to be wound into skeins. It is ready to be welcomed into the hands of the knitter or crocheter to be worked into something special.
Next time you see a skein of yarn you will have a deeper appreciation of the journey each skein took from the back of a wooly sheep into something you can touch and enjoy. Each skein is a work of art in its own way. Many thanks to our sheep for providing us with something wonderful.

About the Author: Katrina Walker is head shepherdess at Spoiled Sheep Yarn. Spoiled Sheep offers farm-fresh natural colored yarns that are produced individually from each sheep. You can visit her beautiful wool at the Sewing and Stitchery Expo and coming soon to

The Sewing Guide for Holiday Dressing

The Dilemma
Awww, the Holidays. ‘Tis the season for your work party, his work party, a girl’s night out or two, holiday concerts, and all the family gatherings . . . . whew! What’s a sewist to wear without making a new outfit for every occasion? Enter the classic Little Black Dress. Simple and economical to make, it can easily be the most versatile go-to in your holiday wardrobe. All it takes is a little more sewing!

The Solution
The Little Black Dress on its own can be fabulous with just the addition of jewelry that sparkles or a drop-dead-gorgeous print sewn into a quick infinity scarf. For your holiday LBD, consider one of the patterns I found on the Simplicity web site. Each one carries its own impressive style, yet is simple enough to sew up in just a few evenings.

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From the Amazing Fit collection, Simplicity 8258 is available in petite, misses and plus sizing. Fitting tips and techniques are included for this impressive, yet simple design. The fit and flare styling, center front seaming and three sleeve options make this the perfect LBD for everyone. And, there are pockets!

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Designed by Sew Chic’s Laura Nash, vintage inspired Simplicity 8534 features a gorgeous, slimming waterfall drape. Easy pleating at the bust and waistline creates a wonderful fit and marvelous style. To make this your own, options include long or short sleeves, optional self-piping and a charming bow.

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Basic, easy, yet striking, New Look 6524 includes four different sleeve looks and lengths. It’s a wonderful dress for “The Year of the Sleeve”! Sew up a holiday style Little Black Dress now, then save this pattern for a fun warm weather dress, too.

The Additions
So, now that you’ve sewn the perfect LBD, just a little more sewing will make it a great fit for all your holiday events! The layering styles I found for you can change for each occasion depending on which fabrics you choose and the unique touches you add.

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Think about silk, velvet, rayon, sparkly trims, sequins and fancy machine stitches. For embellishing, consider Dana Marie Design’s exquisite Quick Fan Applique tutorial to add personalized style.

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Connie Crawford’s Butterick 6261 is a magnificent flare jacket with beautiful seam detailing. Marvelous for combining prints, it could also stylishly feature a yoke of sparkly, sequined fabric. A wonderful way to complete your outfit for holiday concerts or a dress-to-impress work party!

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For a more formal office party or girls’ night out, you’ll love the New Dimension Jacket designed by Louise Cutting. Beautiful princess seaming and full-length dolman sleeves create a slim, flattering fit that would be superb in velvet or a mid-weight silk. Two necklines and optional pockets offer alternatives for design that may mean you’ll want to make more than one!

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Karen Nye’s fabulous and ever-popular CNT Patterns A Little Somethin’ Jacket is quick, easy and a great fit for all body styles. You’ll find two sleeve lengths available and a wide size range. Stitch this one up for the family gathering in a gorgeous rayon. For a Holiday Concert or special night out, choose a dazzling lace for spectacular results.

The Joy
Get ready to look fabulous, darling. Choose your fabrics; choose your patterns – holiday dressing offers simply marvelous reasons to indulge in the joy of sew!

About the author: Annette Millard recently started her own blog, The Sewful Life, which utilizes her sewing and teaching experience to provide helpful tips and tricks, tutorials, and project ideas. Visit the blog at .