Learn to spin day

We have friends with a farm they are revegetating and rehabilitating in a most thoughtful and wonderful way.  They have alpacas keeping their sheep safe, and the time came for shearing.  And the question came whether I would be able to teach people to spin.  Of course!!  I love sharing the joy and the skills, so my friends organised the event and eventually informed me there would be 14 people.  Some of the alpaca was washed and picked in advance, and I brought along sheep fleece in case the alpaca proved a bit challenging for beginners.

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We considered all the possibilities from spinning straight from the animal’s back (in the case of alpacas, this brings me out in hayfever, so I don’t do it anymore), through carding and dyeing and such.  The carder got a fabulous workout. Some people created their very first ever batts.

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We ran a dye pot of eucalyptus leaves in the background and pulled it out to show off at the end of the afternoon.  I mostly forgot to take pictures of most things and also forgot to ask permission for people’s images to be on the internet!  I organised a display table so people could get a sense of how different preparations and fibres look and feel and behave.

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We separated out guard fibres and talked about wise use of different fibres.

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Big people had their first attempts at spinning.  Some had spun years before and rehabilitated their wheels after years of disuse.  One father hadn’t spun since the day his son was born (a few years ago now).

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Some small people had their first attempts at spinning too.  Spinning is made a lot harder when you can’t keep yourself on the chair and reach the treadle at the same time and have to choose between these two activities.  I clean forgot the spindles, which would have simplified this process…

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There was spinning…

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And more spinning… and cups of tea and cake and baby snuggling…

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And in the end, there were first skeins of yarn of all manner of types…

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Plain and fancy!  Lots of people made yarn.  And I have to say, lots of people made alpaca yarn even without prior experience of spinning. I have been told that alpaca is too hard for beginners… but maybe, like everything else, it all depends.  I am always interested by talk of what beginners can and should do at my Guild.  Because I learned so much by myself before I found the Guild and joined up, I didn’t know what was easy and what was hard.  I knew I was a beginner, and therefore I expected to find things difficult at first.  But I didn’t have preconceptions about which skills were basic or advanced and as a result I learned some things quite early on that other people think are hard to learn or should only be attempted by advanced spinners.

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It interests me that people bring so much to the learning process, and so much of what they bring is unhelpful to learning. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if we could leave more and more of that fret and fear of failure and worry and impatience and feeling stupid out of it, what learning would be like.  Perhaps it would be like learning to yodel was for me. Charley Pride did it on Mum and Dad’s records, so clearly it could be done.  I don’t remember wondering why I had never heard anyone else do it.  I just assumed that I would be able to do it.  I didn’t ask anyone else’s opinion, so no one told me it was difficult, and as a result, I’ve been able to yodel since I was a small child with a lot of land to wander about in singing at the top of my voice, yodelling optional…


Filed under Natural dyeing, Spinning

5 responses to “Learn to spin day

  1. So many thoughts and memories. I remember having my first go on a spinning wheel when I was in primary school at the fete. I recall nothing other than getting spinning and going back for more – I am sure they had trouble getting rid of me. Fast forward some 20 years and a passing mention of spinning to a bank clerk got me my first wheel (her sister’s). The first thing I spun after learning on eool was silk. Good to see people getting back into it after a break.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ooooh I would have loved to have been able to attend this. I don’t know how to spin and would love to try it. Sounds like a great day 🙂


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