Designing yarn from your local fiber with Marlie de Swart


Instructor: Marlie de Swart

Date/Time: TBD

Tuition: $95

Maximum students: 12


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This class is designed for spinners and knitters/crocheters who want to create garments from fleece and other raw fiber.

We will discuss what type of yarn is appropriate for which garment design, what type of yarn gives drape, substance, strength or texture and how to spin your yarn to achieve these characteristics.

We will evaluate a fleece and select the best part for a vest, scarf or socks. Determine how to prepare the fiber for that particular garment through carding, flicking, or combing. We will discuss whether to mix fibers for softness or design your rolach or bat for structure. Before spinning we will discuss the best gauge, ply count and wpi for a vest, socks or scarf; how much raw and clean fleece is needed for each garment and how many yards of hand-spun yarn is needed. You will go away with knit or crochet swatches for socks, scarf or vest.


This is an advanced class and participants must know how to spin a thick and thin single and how to ply, also the basics of knitting or crocheting. Bring a spinning wheel, carders and combs if you have them, clean fleece or roving, knitting needles and an idea of what you want to create.

We will supply carders, some clean fleece and some roving as well as drafting paper and pencils.

What to bring:

  • Something to share for the potluck lunch, and any personal beverages and snacks
  • Notebook and camera if desired
  • Spinning wheel, carders and combs if you have them, clean fleece or roving, knitting needles and an idea of what you want to create.

The instructor:

Marlie de Swart of Bo-Rage Yarns & Designs is an artist trained in Holland, Paris and Los Angeles, who specializes in hand spun yarns and hand made garments. Most often the garments and the yarns are made from local wool, alpaca, mohair or Angora rabbit fur, sourced within 50 miles of her home and studio in Bolinas, California. Marlie believes that combining excellent design with locally sourced materials provide a strong alternative to imports.

Marlie also owns and manages a brick and mortar store, Black Mountain Artisans in Point Reyes Station, just north of San Francisco. For 25 years it has been run as a cooperative for local fiber artists who represent the best in their technique, be it spinning, knitting, felting or any other art form where fiber is used. Black Mountain Artisans promotes local fiber artists and shepherds, and thus helps the local economy.

The location: 

West County Fiber Arts is the studio of felt artist Heidi Harris, on a beautiful 1-acre property in rural Sonoma County, California. Classes will take place both indoors and in the garden.

If you are coming from out of town, overnight accommodations are plentiful in the vicinity — from nearby cottages and hotels to camping at the Russian River. See our Food & Lodging page for suggestions.