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Scholarship available for the retreat!

Finances keeping you away from the retreat?  We can help.

Every year at the retreat, we have a raffle; and at the retreats and Frolics we have Freebie Tables monitored by Shawn, our “ScholarSheep” bank – people take items from the freebie table, and drop a donation into Shawn.

Full and partial scholarships are available!

If you’re interested in applying for the scholarship, please email info@griffindyeworks.com by April 30.


2016 Retreat Classes

This is a FINAL list of classes. Registered guests will be emailed a sign up form. Wait lists will be maintained.
(Updated 6/16/16)

Register for the retreat here or learn more about it!


Friday Schedule       Saturday Schedule

Download a PDF of the schedule

Full Class Description List with materials and fees



List of Classes by Category

Featured Classes by Esther Benedict
The World Around Us: Inspiration for Fiber Arts
Color and Texture in Design
Introduction to Weaving with Designer Yarns (Hand Loom)
Handwoven Scarves From Designer Yarns (Rigid Heddle Loom)

Sewing Machine
Sew a Rope Basket
Sew a Drawstring Project Bag

Crochet for Beginners
FreeForm Crochet Beyond The Scrumbles: Let’s Make Something
Cross Stitch a Sheep Pin
Knit a Beaded Angel Pin
Make a Biscornu Pin Cushion
Make a Needle Book
Needle Felt a sheep
Needle Felt a painting with wool
Beautiful Beaded Spirit Dolls
Bijeaux Tapestry Embroidery
Paper Quilling

Introduction to Multi-heddle Weaving
Basic Card/Tablet Weaving
Tapestry Warping and Weaving on a Hand Loom
Learnings to Read Card Weaving Charts
Basic Weaving on a Potholder Loom

Textiles and Tools from Archaeological Finds in Scandinavia and the UK

Social Media & Online Businesses
ATS Bellydance: Slow Movements
ATS Bellydance: Fast Movements

Using your first spinning wheel
Deconstructing/Reconstructing Hand-Painted Roving or Top
Cable Plying for Spinners
Bubbly Boucle
Spinning Flax
Drop Spinning, Beginning or Tune-up

Dyeing / Painting
Acid Dyeing Yarn – Multiple Techniques
Printing & Stamping on Fabric & Paper
Riotous Reds And Yowie Yellows !
Folds, Resists, bands, and ties (Shibori)
Indigo!!!!!!! The amazing Elusive Blue
Dye Prep / Open Dyepots

Class Titles & Descriptions

The World Around Us: Inspiration for Fiber Arts
The world around us filled with color and texture – how do we translate this – what we see and feel – into what we make as fiber artists (or any other kind of artist, really)? What about our other senses – sound, smell, taste? Can we incorporate these into what we make? How about memories?

In this one hour lecture/discussion/play session, I’ll talk a little bit about my “inspiration” process, and how I translate it into fiber, followed by a chance to create idea boards from photos, artifacts and fiber/yarn samples. If you have photos that you’ve taken, or pictures from magazines, that you love, you may want to bring them.

Color and Texture in Design
Because sometime you feel like a stripe, sometimes you don’t. Introducing the color star, talking about hues, tints and shades, how to get the effect you want in your design – combining texture with color to make something truly remarkable. Applies to spinning, weaving, dyeing, felting, making art batts, whatever.

Introduction to Weaving with Designer Yarns
Do you always walk out of the yarn store with at least one skein – besides the ones you went in for? Do you have a lot of single skeins of designer yarn that you just couldn’t resist? This is a class for yarn addicts! We’ll talk about the designer yarns available and how they can be incorporated into weaving. Students will make samples in class.

Handwoven Scarves From Designer Yarns – An Overview
Scarves are the hot fashion accessory – but why buy a scarf and look like everyone else, when you can weave your own unique scarf using designer yarns? Maybe you already have leftover yarns in your stash waiting to be used up! In this overview, we’ll talk about selecting your yarns and demonstrate how to prepare your warp and set up your rigid heddle loom and begin weaving.

Handwoven Scarves From Designer Yarns – Getting Started
In this hands on class, we’ll put what we learned in the overview class into practice and set up our looms for weaving our own scarves. Students will select their yarns, measure their warps and get started warping their looms.

Spinning Flax
Spinning Flax (and maybe some other plant fibers) — An annual favorite class! Time to try the non-protein fibers for a change, many of which require damp fingers or wetting down the fibers while you spin. Instruction will be demonstrated on drop spindle, but you are welcome to bring your wheels. Some prior spinning experience requested.

Learning to Read Card Weaving Charts
Jokingly nicknamed the “Rosetta Stone” class, this lecture and handout discusses the only three things you need to look for to decode and ready any card-weaving chart for warping and weaving. Examine why some charts seem backwards (they might be!). Does not cover brocade, but you’ll see why.

ATS Bellydance
Slow Movements: This is a very low impact class. Learn to play “follow-the-leader” to move in sync with other dancers. Think of this as Tai Chi meets Bellydance, and you have a good idea what the movement is like. No prior experience needed.
Fast Movements: This class is still low impact on your feet and legs, but this peppy dance form should get your blood pumping. Learn to play “follow-the-leader” as you move in sync with other dancers, to some upbeat and fun music. No prior experience needed.

Drop Spinning, Beginning or Tune-up
Bring your Drop Spindle or Spinning Wheel to learn how to spin, or how to improve your spinning. You will practice how to twist wool fiber into yarn. Wool fiber, loaner drop spindles, fiber combs, cards, and other fiber tools will be available for use in the class. Students may bring their own drop spindles or spinning wheels, and wool fiber.

Bubbly Boucle
Boucle is a bubbly textured yarn that is not hard to do.. it comes in steps. Come spin Boucle, Extend your Boucle experience if you like… later you can dye boucle and finally, you can weave with your boucle in a class with our Featured Teacher, Esther! $12 fee/ all supplies provided. Students should bring their wheels, kates, oil, lap cloth, 3 bobbins. Students should be able to spin a continuous yarn.

Riotous Reds And Yowie Yellows !
Cochineal, Madder, Kamala, Indian Onion Skins, Osage and more… come and play with color, mordants, and modifiers.

Shibori: Folds, Resists, bands, and ties
The art of Shibori in Japan, but practiced over time around the world in many many cultures. Easy to do, Come and learn some fun ways to create amazing pattern using simple techniques.

Indigo!!!!!!! The amazing Elusive Blue
Intense deep and dark to Robin’s egg blue as well as the key to many secondary colors, Indigo delights, amazes and enthralls! Great time to bring silk, cotton, or wool thrift store finds to up-cycle or yarns you want to dye. (We share the dyepots so learn how at retreat and dye your big tablecloth at home). ((Friday and Saturday 3-5:30). ((Bjo should teach this one))

Open Dyepots
Register for this time period and the dyepots will be open to dye your pre-mordanted and labeled items. (not pre-mordanted? Not Labeled? Attend one of the two ‘Dye Prep’ Sessions to prepare your items to be dyed!)

Carving Stamps for Block Printing
Learn how to carve your own stamps for block printing (on textiles or paper). This class is suitable for beginners, but we will be using sharp tools, so if you are a real klutz take that into consideration.

Cable Plying for Spinners
Cable plying is an easy way to make beautiful and unusual yarns. The basic method is to make two 2-ply yarns and then ply them with each other to make a strong, balanced 4-ply yarn. Add a bit of contrasting color and/or thickness and you’ve got a designer yarn! Each student will make one or two sample skeins in class. You will need to have a spinning wheel or drop spindle, and be able to spin a single.

FreeForm Crochet Beyond the Scrumbles: Let’s Make Something!!
This is an intermediate class for those who are fairly experienced crocheters – for those who already can execute basic main crochet stitches. It is also very helpful if they’ve taken a beginning FreeForm class. There will actually be “homework”; Students will get the handbook in advance by email, and construct some various scrumbles (crocheted motifs) before Retreat if possible. In class we will make either a small pouch, or begin the construction of a sweater, T-shirt or shawl.

Beautiful Beaded Spirit Dolls
Beware!! Bead embroidery is highly addictive! Jewelry, buttons, accessories, journal pages ,spirit dolls, pouches, medicine bags . . . all these are but a few of the pieces that can be made. In this class, we’ll learn basic bead embroidery stitches and use them to make a beautiful beaded Spirit Doll to bring beauty and comfort to you, or to whomever you gift your art! Processes and supplies for other beaded art forms will also be discussed and demonstrated, so that students can go on to a variety of other project with their beading skills and their own creative imagination.

Learn to Sew Rope Baskets
You will learn how to transform a length of rope into a basket using your sewing machine. No skills needed. You must bring or borrow a machine.

Learn to sew project bags
Learn how to sew a project bag. I’ll show you how to sew a zippered bag and a lined drawstring bag. Knowing how to use a sewing machine is useful but not required.

Introduction to multi-heddle weaving
Get the basics in how to warp and weave with 3 rigid heddles. Seelie/Barb will instruct you on how to warp 3 rigid heddles and you get to weave a sampler of different twill and double weaves. All levels of skill welcome. Any weave that can be woven with 3 harness’ can be woven with 3 rigid heddles. Includes the use of rigid heddle loom.

Textiles and Tools from Archaeological Finds in Scandinavia and the UK
Come see what Seelie/Barb has uncovered on her most recent trip to Scandinavia and the UK in a slide presentation. She’ll show you ancient textiles, tools and other artifact of interest.

Crochet for Beginners
Crochet for Beginners is a class for folks looking to learn crochet or looking to refresh their basic skills. You don’t need to know anything about crochet, just have a desire to learn.

We will work on the skills you need to be a beginning crocheter. Things like how to make a foundation chain to begin a project, stitches such as single crochet, double crochet, treble crochet, how to increase or decrease, and how to fasten off to finish off a project.

Social Media & Online Businesses
Trying to get more likes, clicks, and followers? Want to sell online but you’re not sure if Etsy is the way to go? This is a discussion – we all have knowledge and experiences to share! Theresa has been managing Griffin Dyeworks’ social media and website from the beginning, and is savvy in the ways of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Etsy, BigCartel, Shopify, and more.

Deconstructing/Reconstructing Hand-Painted Roving or Top
This is a class for any level of spinner. You have probably admired beautiful multicolored braids or coils of hand-painted roving or top, and maybe spun with them. We’re going to take some of these colorful rovings apart and put them back together in new ways, exploring creative possibilities. You may choose to rearrange the colors to create a gradient yarn, combine fiber from different braids to create new colorways, or do some blending to create subtle color shifts. I hope we’ll have time to start spinning some of our samples, but the main focus of the class will be playing around with the fiber.

Cross Stitch a Sheep Pin
Learn how to Cross Stitch and make a cute sheep pin or magnet. I enjoy Counted Cross Stitch, it’s fun and (for me at least) easier then Crewel Embroidery. In the class we’ll go over the basics of Counted Cross Stitch and learn to work from a charted pattern. We’ll start stitching the sheep in class, and cover how to turn it into a pin or magnet. If you already know how to Cross Stitch, then come and have fun stitching and making a sheep pin!

Knit a Beaded Angel Pin
Learn how to add beads to your knitting by knitting this cute beaded angel pin. This class is an intermediate class for folks who already know how to knit.We’ll be using Size 1 needles with size 10 crochet cotton. In the class we’ll go over how to add beads in swags and singles to your knitting, as well as how to string them on your yarn. We’ll start knitting with beads! And cover how to add the pin back. If you know the Long Tail Cast On, great! If not, we’ll learn it in class.

Make a Biscornu Pin Cushion
A biscornu is an interesting eight-sided pincushion. They are very quirky and fun!  Biscornus can be used for pin cushions, ornaments, and jewelry. They also make great gifts! No experience at anything is needed, but knowledge of hand sewing is a plus. We’ll sew, stuff and finish the Biscornu pin cushion in class.And you’ll take home your own Biscornu pin cushion!

Make a Needle Book
Tired of losing your sewing needles? Looking for elegant way to store
them? Looking for a great gift idea? We’ve got your covered! Needlebooks are handy and fun to make, once you know how there are TONS of modifications and decoration ideas that you can incorporate! No experience at anything is needed, but knowledge of hand sewing is a plus. We’ll sew, and finish the needlebooks in class. And you’ll take home your own needle book!

Needle felt a sheep
By making a sheep, learn basic shapes, putting shapes together and how to make other projects,

Needle felt a painting with wool
Paint a butterfly picture with wool. learn how to needle felt a picture on felt

Using your first spinning wheel
So you’ve mastered (sort of) the drop spindle and you want to move up to a wheel. You’ve (or someone who loves you) gotten your first wheel – but where to start. Come and find out what the YouTube videos don’t – did you get a bargain or a headache.

Bjeaux Tapestry Embroidery
The Bayeux Tapestry is a 230 foot long embroidered fabric that relates the story of the Battle of Hastings, which took place in 1066 in England. It was created by the long labor of legions of skilled seamsters hundreds of years ago.

We invite all Retreat Attendees to come add a few stitches (or an entire embroidered figure!) to our own version called the Bijeaux (“BEE-joe”, named after one of our Founders!) Tapestry. This project was designed and started by our Featured Artisan, Esther Benedict! You can take part in this community project by embroidering from a rainbow of handspun, naturally dyed yarns, and help tell the story of shearing sheep, dyeing the fiber and spinning the yarn. You don’t need to know anything about embroidery, we will teach you the simple stitches. The Bijeaux Tapestry will be available all day, both days.

Basic Card/Tablet Weaving
Card or Tablet weaving was done by many ancient civilizations to create trim and belts. Students will learn to “speed warp” their tablet looms, and how to turn, rotate and flip the cards to get hundreds of different designs. Advanced students can use this same warping to learn how to create patterns and write words with string.

Acid Dyeing Yarn – Multiple Techniques
This is going to be a really fun class suited for anyone who wants to try dyeing – experience is not required. We will go over all the methods I use to dye natural fiber yarn with acid dyes: kettle, tonal, low water immersion/pouring, and dry application to get the speckles everyone loves right now.

Tapestry Warping and Weaving on a Hand Loom
Hand Looms are very simple frames for easy warping and tapestry weaving . They are perfect for doing tests for how various yarns or threads look together when woven before you warp your large floor or table loom. They are also perfect for weaving small pieces. A pattern can be placed behind the warp threads to let the weaver create a woven image.

Paper Quilling
Learn how to roll up paper and glue it to more paper in aesthetically pleasing ways! The art of paper quilling originated in ancient Egypt, later was picked up in the 16th and 17th centuries by French and Italian nuns, became popular with ladies of leisure in 18th century Europe, and spread to the Americas during the Colonial period. Thin strips of paper are rolled into coils which are pinched and manipulated and glued to a surface to form intricate designs. Students will learn basic shapes and techniques and decorate a box or a card.

Printing & Stamping on Fabric & Paper
Dye extracts and colored earths will be used to print on fabric and paper with rubber stamps and small wooden blocks. Stamp or block-print on Retreat tote bags, silk scarves, T-shirts, onesies, quilt squares, or other small pieces of fabric. This class will be far simpler than last year’s block printing class. No prerequisites, no required skills, no experience needed!

2015 Events!

Our Frolic is coming up March 21 – you can sign up today, or contact us if you’re interested in teaching or selling at the event!


And our retreat returns to Arrowhead Ranch June 26-28! We’ll allow arrivals Thursday night and classes will start on Friday morning, ending Sunday at noon. We hope you can join us — put down a deposit today!

Some photos of Arrowhead Ranch

Time to share more photos of our new venue for the retreat! There’s a wide variety of cabins available – this just shows some of the unique features in a few of them!

2014 Retreat is Scheduled! New Location!

We are so excited about the retreat this year that we nearly couldn’t contain ourselves until we signed the contract!

When: June 13-15, 2014

Where: Arrowhead Ranch Conference Center, Lake Arrowhead, CA

Arrowhead Ranch has cabins featuring real beds and private bathrooms, and come in different configurations that can accommodate between 2 and 7 people. There’s a large dining hall and plenty of indoor and outdoor space for our classes, and a pool, jacuzzi, hiking trails and more for your downtime! It’s a great location if you want to bring your family along for the weekend – Arrowhead Ranch is located in the natural beauty of the San Bernardino National Forest, just minutes away from  Lake Arrowhead.

Cost: $350 (shared cabin) if registered before May 15; $450 on & after May 16. Register & pay online via our store.
Contact us at info@griffindyeworks.com for prices for kids, partners, and families, or if you wish to attend classes but not stay on site, or for a private cabin.

The price still includes ALL food and lodging from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. This year, however, you we won’t be roughing it quite so much – you won’t need to bring your own bedding, rugs, or pop up tents for our outdoor tent city! No canvas tents – the cabins are all well-appointed, clean, and include private bathrooms, tvs, and wireless internet. You can see some photos of the cabins on the Arrowhead Ranch website! This event will truly be a retreat – not a campout!


Vendors are welcome at the Griffin Dyeworks Retreat! Please contact us at info@griffindyeworks.com to learn more.


Teachers are given a discounted entry fee based on the number of hours they are scheduled to teach classes. We’re accepting class submissions on our online form.


What the Retreat Means to Us

John and I started the Griffin Dyeworks Fiber Retreat because there was nothing else for small fiber groups in Southern California at that time. There were several Northern California conference and workshops, but not here. There were large conferences held around the state, but they were more formal and less hands-on. These many years later, other small conferences have appeared and seem to be well-attended, too. So we asked fiber friends if they would teach classes and got an enthusiastic response.

Retreat Panorama

With this encouragement, we starting looking for a venue. An Eagle Scout friend suggested a Tehachapi Mountains camp within easy driving distance of Los Angeles. We went to meet Ranger Terry Hall, camp director, and ended up selecting Camp Verdugo Oaks (CVO) for our first Fiber Retreat.The event was far more successful than we’d allowed ourselves to hope, which delighted us and encouraged us to hold another Fiber Retreat the next year. And the next. And the next.

There have been nine Fiber Retreats so far. We plan to continue for as long as there is an interest in attending a cozy, encouraging, friendly Retreat.This gives Retreat participants a chance to ask questions of the teachers, or even request an impromptu class in something not listed on the schedule. It is common to hear a teacher say “Class in naalbinding over here in 15 minutes!” Or even to have a participant show a hitherto unknown talent that they are willing to share.

Left, Dodder in a dyepot and dry, and Right, Scotch Broom in a dyepot

We have explored many dye techniques and materials, including the Scotch broom brought in by one participant. She stopped by the side of a freeway to pick the flowers, which must have startled passersby. Another dyestuff was dodder, a parasitic yellow web often seen in Southern California.

Ranger Terry is a Mountain Man, with a fine collection of vintage trade beads. He often joins the spinning circles to bead feathers or sew leather trousers. The fiber folk welcome him.It gives us immense satisfaction to stand under the moonlight and see the outdoor work areas filled with chattering, laughing, busy fiber folk, all too excited to go to bed. This is the creativity we love to have encouraged!

Ranger Terry, with some of his Indian trade beads

Since the camp is in the wilderness, we had Bruce the Bear trolling for goodies during the night, but we seldom saw him. Ranger Terry would run Bruce off with rock salt in a shotgun. Alas, all that is left of Bruce is a large green footprint on the lodge sidewalk, the result of his investigating a newly painted picnic table. Sparky, a black and white cat, is proficient at dodging all the wildlife at Camp Verdugo Oaks. Sparky likes to hide in vehicles. Fiber folk usually get only as far as the I-5 Freeway before discovering him, but others have carried Sparky all the way home.

The finest Retreat accolade started with a tragedy. John’s sister in Montana was failing, so we got a phone call on the eve of the Retreat to come quick. It was far too late to cancel the Retreat, so we contacted several of our teachers and asked them to take over. They agreed with alacrity, and ran the Retreat so well, we doubt if anyone missed us.

These wonderful fiber friends have been a mainstay in keeping the Retreat going, planning new activities, and finding guest teachers. They are so invaluable to us and to the Retreat. This is what makes the hard work of organizing such an event worthwhile!

Where do we see the Retreat several years from now? With the enthusiasm and hard work our amazing teachers and helpers are willing to put into it, the Retreat will continue for a long time. — John & Bjo Trimble

Retreat Wrap Up

Spinning wheels and looms at the 2013 Retreat

Our ninth retreat was two weekends ago, and I’m sure you’re all in the same boat as me – still processing everything you learned, uploading (and tagging!) photos, and maybe unpacking.

Bjo put it best when she wrote on our email list:

Wow! Our 9th Fiber Retreat was absolutely fabulous! It was very high energy, everyone learned something new (including the teachers), and there were some delightful surprises.

Pixies invaded the camp one night with a basket of crocheted flowers and butterflies. They proceeded to yarn-bomb the fence, several bushes, the Camp Verdugo mailbox, doorknobs, and vehicle antennae! Plus Ranger Terry’s own chair. We point no fingers.

However, many of us took at least one flower or butterfly home with us.

Our dye classes had a lot of people but there was no crowding around the dyepots. It looked as if everyone had a good time achieving various effects with tie-dyeing, mixed dyes, and color changes with mordants and modifiers. I have seldom had such a satisfactory dye session! 

Ercil was a wonderful cochineal teacher and her students were delighted with the amazing range of reds and purples they got.


Katerina again ruled the kitchen, assisted by her daughter-in-law, Taylor, and by Sarnat, who is short enough to wash pots in the Scout-height sink without killing her back.

Thanks to all our consistent Retreat participants who helped everywhere, some taking up impromptu teaching when asked. Several new folk added to the general fun. We sincerely hope they return again. Everyone assisted with tasks, and helped so well in packing up and cleaning the camp that we all got to go home hours ahead of time! We are very, very grateful. Thank you all!

Very high appreciation to our wonderful teachers, who always come through for the Retreat, making it a great learning experience! We tried to repay our debt to them with a selection of good books, but of course there are not enough books or other thanks enough to cover their amazing willingness to volunteer.
Thanks again, all, for coming and making this Retreat so memorable! — John & Bjo
We very literally could not hold the Retreats or the Frolics (like the one coming up Sept 21!) without volunteers both behind the scenes before the event and during them. Thanks are not enough!

Now Accepting Retreat Scholarships!

Thanks to the generosity of our Frolic and Retreat guests, every year we offer one or two full or partial scholarships for our three day Retreat weekends! Click here to download the form – it’s due by April 15!

Our popular destash table, starring the Scholarsheep bank for donations.

Our popular destash table, starring the Scholarsheep bank for donations.

Our three day retreat is a great deal at $300.00, which includes your room, board and most of the natural dyeing over the weekend – but let’s see how some other retreats compare!

Spin Off Autumn Retreat (SOAR):  Seven Days
$700+ for workshops and retreat, plus $100+ for class materials. Accommodations and food not included. (Costs from a previous year’s info)

Squam Arts Workshop: Five Days
$1200 – includes all workshops, evening events, 4 nights lodging, full meal plan, or $675 without the lodging and breakfasts

Knot Hysteria Retreat: Three Days
$795 – Classes, materials (except tools) and meals included.

Madrona Winter Retreat: Four Days
No registration fee, but a per class fee: 3 hr. classes: $90; 6 hr. classes: $180; 2 Day (12 hr.) classes: $325. Meals and lodging not included.

Fiber Frenzy: Three Days
$250-$305 entry; Workshops are $60+$15-$35 for materials each (up to 3), or classes (up to six) have a small materials fee. Meals and lodging included.

You can register today for our 2013 Retreat (June 14-16) with a $50 deposit!

The raffle at the Retreat is a major scholarship fundraiser!