A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to participate in a spinning workshop in Derbyshire. I am currently part of the first group of people taking a Foundation Certificate in Spinning, and as a Beta Tester this workshop would serve as a learning platform for two of the modules, as well as an opportunity to offer feedback on our experience.
Here is Steve Kennet, the man responsible for the certificate. He has more experience spinning than I have years on this earth, and it was a pleasure to listen to him and watch him spin on a 150-year-old wheel. He was explaining woollen spinning, or the long draw method – that’s when your yarn traps more air, making it warmer and fuzzier. This technique doesn’t come naturally to me, so a few hours after I was at my wheel, next to my fellow attendees, trying my best to “master” it (it didn’t happen.)
We met at a local conference centre on a Saturday afternoon, and left the next day after lunch. See the white wheel? That’s a Woolmaker’s Bliss, the same wheel I have – it was quite exciting to see someone else with one! Yes, I get excited over odd things.
As an example of another silly thing that gets my fibre senses tingling, here’s a basket with wool. And yarn. And a niddy noddy.
I’ve been meaning to get a wheel tattooed on my back, and I think this vintage wheel would be perfect for it. If you know your wheels you know this is not a “Cinderella” wheel, but doesn’t it retain a sort of romantic view of spinning nonetheless?…
On Sunday, it was Worsted Spinning day – I thought we were just spinning worsted style on the wheel, but it was instead a lesson on how to prepare your fibre correctly to spin this method. I must say I did find all the sharp instruments (hackles, and British combs) very intimidating. Being sleep deprived also meant I heard – and agreed with – all the common-sense instructions to safely use them, and proceeded to make all the mistakes not a half hour later. I survived, and didn’t kill or maim anyone. Pure luck.
Here is our teacher Amanda explaining how to open locks by beating them with a hackle against our thigh. A great exercise if you had a bad day and just want to let some energy out. Amanda teaches workshops all over the UK and Europe, so you can contact her for lessons.
The next weekend, it was my monthly guild meeting, and it was also a Skills Session day, where we discuss and share different spinning techniques. This time it was flax, or linen, spinning that was the focus. I knew more than I expected because I had just turned in one of my Foundation Certificate modules on the subject a week ago.
Here is our table, and all the mess that follows a fibre talk and experimentation. See the tea mugs? That’s how you know you’re in the UK.
Here is one of our guild members showing me how to do long draw with a wheel called the Indian Book Charkha – it’s made in India, and is as small as a book and could be kept discreetly on a shelf. By the way, Ghandi used to spin on a (larger) Charkha, and defended that everyone should spin daily and make their own clothes. Wise man.
This last photo isn’t the best I’ve taken, but I just wanted to show my new Ashford hand carders – my very first! After using dog brushes for so long, it’s odd using proper carders, but I’ve been putting them to good use making rolags (a sort of lofty tube made of wool, for spinning). More on that on another post.
So that’s it, my latest fibre adventures. What have you been up to? Have you ever spun or knit with cotton or flax? Did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments section.