Only Once a Month?

Last night was the spinning class I teach on a monthly basis and I had five students, including two new ones.  One of my semi-regular students couldn’t get off work in time, which is too bad because I have a Crosspatch Creations batt for her to try.  This particular student isn’t interested in smooth, fine yarns, instead she is interested in spinning more arty yarns with lots of texture.  Crosspatch Creations’ batts are the perfect next step for her, I believe.

Let’s start with the first new student to arrive last night.


This is Tammy.  She started with a spindle, but she is interested in getting a wheel eventually.  She picked up spinning pretty quickly, and left with nearly half a pound of wool (part from me and part from what she bought at the store).  Before she left, I think she must have said “See you next week!” because the next thing I hear is “I have to wait a whole month?”

Actually, she is one of the people who are meeting up with Sandy and I in Greencastle on the 20th and we will help her pick out more fiber to spin.


This second new student is Stephanie from the sock knitting class – and, yes, she is barefooted.  Actually, she is working on the mate to the sock she finished in class, but it isn’t done, yet.

This is the first time I have had the chance to work with a Babe spinning wheel, and I had to do some figuring out on it.  For one, the brake is completely different than anything I have ever seen before.  I guess you can call it a sort of Scotch tension, but it is a leather thong that fits over the orifice tube and has velcro on each end with velcro on the mother-of-all to affix it to.  The tighter you need the break, the tighter you pull the leather thong down onto the orifice tube.  Different, but it seemed to work just fine.

Look at Stephanie’s technique.  I think she wants to be a long-draw spinner.  I’m going to keep an eye on her and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts she picks up long-draw quickly.  I had another student like that a few years a go.  She struggled with worsted and semi-worsted techniques, but the minute I showed her long-draw, she went to town.


Let’s talk about Caeli next.  Here she is Navajo plying what she has been spinning.  Take a close look at her socks.  Yes, those are her sock knitting class socks all done.  Someone must have said something about stealing them because I heard her say “Just try to take them from me.”

Once she got her plying done, I showed her how to do long-draw.  She wants to spin up enough fluffier yarn for a sweater vest and I brought her some BFL to use after she perfected her technique on lesser stuff.  By the end of the evening, she was getting the hang of long-draw.


Next is Brenda.  She was not able to come to the last sock class, so I sat down with her and gave her the instructions for doing the toe and finishing her sock off.  Also, she knows how to Navajo ply just fine on her spindle, but couldn’t figure out how to start it on her wheel, so we got her going on that.  Then we realized that we needed to redo the drive bands on her wheel.

When she first brought in her wheel, we had quickly got her going just by using some 8/4 rug warp for the two drive bands.  But they had been put on with the flyer too high and there was little room for adding tension to the break drive band, so this is her plying together two strands of rug warp (we decided that if we were going to replace the old ones, we might as well make sure the new ones would last her a good long time).  We cranked the level of the flyer down to very close to the bottom and installed her new drive bands.  The trouble of not being able to get enough tension on it to pull in the yarn while plying with a half-full bobbin of fuller is now eliminated.

Also, she brought in the binder of her samples from singles, 2-ply, three-ply and cabled yarns from the merino she has been spinning.  I should have taken a picture of them, because they were so lovely.  I think she is ready to spin for a real project, so, at Greencastle, I am going to get her enough fiber for her to spin and make a sweater vest.  Since she is meeting us down there, I’ll have her pick out the color she likes best.

And now…


Let’s talk about Debbie.  The whole reason she has wanted to learn to spin was so she could spin her Pomeranian dogs’ shed fur into yarn and knit it into either a scarf or a lace shawl.  Well, last night, she got to start spinning the fur.  Her dogs are identical in color, cream with a touch of a peachy-tan, and it is going to make lovely yarn.  As you can see by the picture, she is thrilled to be spinning this fiber.


And very fine yarn, too.  Her spinning is just beautiful.  Even, consistent… just beautiful.


And she finished her first sock!  The second sock has been started and she is taking it with her on a trip so she can knit it on the plane.  She loves how it feels and fits.


And this is the whole gang.

With half an hour left of class, I pulled out a bag of baggies full of wool – each one with either a different breed, or a different color of a breed.  I sat on the floor between them and we discussed different properties of different breeds, starting with the coarsest in my collection (a black East Fresian) to the softest (the 2012 Indiana State Fair Reserve Champion Cormo).  We discussed down wools, crimp structure, coarseness or fineness of fibers, long wools (I have some Teeswater with a staple length of nearly a foot as well as some lovely Lincoln), combed top versus roving, and end uses for the different types of fiber.  I know I bombarded them with a lot of information, but hearing it once will make it seem familiar when they hear more of the same, and I believe most of them will be meeting up with Sandy and I in Greencastle so we can take them around and show them different raw fleeces as well as processed fiber.

Eventually, they are going to be buying fleeces and spinning-ready fibers on their own, and they need to understand what they are looking at before they spend their money.  As a spinning instructor, I believe it is my job to help them with this as much as possible.  Not only should I teach them spinning, plying and all of that, but what to spin and for what reason or they will never been truly satisfied with what they are spinning.  If they love what they are doing and what they make with their hand-spun yarns, then spinning will be a part of their lives for a good long time.  And isn’t that the point of teaching?


One Response

  1. Cindy in FL Says:

    Awesome! So nice to see how they are doing and to know they all have the ‘hooked’ look! Good thing you ;have the knowledge of a good working wheel so no matter how it is set up you can make it work-that is a skill a new spinner is at a definite disadvantage and it will help them immensely! Glad it is going well!

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