Sunday, August 24, 2008

Spinning Class

Early Friday morning I headed up to Bath for a two day "Intensive Spinning" class at Halcyon Yarn. I felt a bit guilty taking the day off of work, but not too guilty! Upon arrival I carried my new wheel up to the classroom. Although it is not officially a portable wheel it is light and easy to transport. The classroom was well lit, and full of a variety of looms and wheels. We had each been given a generous bag of fibers that included everything from sheep to camel to silk hankies.

Our instructor was Rudy Amann, a former math teacher and school principal. Our first morning was spent learning how to use a top whorl spindle. As we practiced Rudy explained the different types of handspun wool and the methods that are used to create them. We also learned about fiber preparation. We spent the afternoon working with (fumbling with?!?) our wheels and attempting to actually spin something. After a while I found myself in "the zone", and was happily treadling away making my lumpy singles. I found Rudy to be a good teacher and he has the patience of a saint. He constantly added more information to our minds and showed us how to do Andean plying on our hand. That was good for some laughter as we all tied ourselves up with our efforts! The first example it the correct way, and the second example is wrong!
Rudy had brought along a beautiful assortment of skeins of handspun yarn for examples of what we could eventually create if we were persistant. He spoke of the competitions that are held for "Best Skein". I never knew that judging was held on both the perfection of the spun yarn as well as the way it was wound into a skein. If it isn't tied off just right it will be disqualified!!! With the bottom photo examples he explained the difference between worsted spinning style and woolen spinning style.
At the end of the first day we were all tired both in our minds and bodies. I spent a little time in the shop but avoided purchasing. I am an avid knitter, and also crochet so all the beautiful yarn, books and accessories made my credit card tremble. After browsing a bit I treated myself to a motel room to avoid the 1.5 hour drive home. I had a relaxing evening...found an Italian place to eat, then had a swim in the pool and settled in for the evening. As I watched the Olympics I pulled the bag of camel fiber out of my bag and used the spindle to make singles, then plied them using the Andean technique. Camel has very short fibers and it was hard. It's a good thing that I like thick and thin yarn in my projects! Some of the yarn in the bins at the shop made me think of penny rug patterns or a"cat's paw" pattern in a hooked rug.
On the second day we had more time to practice and Rudy assisted us when he saw we were doing something wrong. I found out that I spin "worsted style" which means I lead the twist into the drafted fibers with my orifice hand. I don't mean just happens. Rudy showed us beautiful examples of Nalbinding, which is an ancient way of forming material using a needle. Thousands of years ago people would use animal fiber and create threads or yarn, then use the nalbinding technique to make nets or garments. This is another class that Rudy teaches in the area. He is a man of many talents. I left the class knowing that I had learned a lot and realizing that I had barely touched the surface of what there is to know about spinning and fiber. It will take a lot of practice to become skilled enough to produce enough fine, consistent and smooth yarn for a pair of socks. I have total respect for spinners who can sit at the wheel and make it look so easy.


WoolenSails said...

What fun to learn how to spin. I expect a skein of pretty yarn when you lean how to make it;) I actually like the loose woven yarns, they make great embellishments on my quilts. I will take your practice ones too, hehe. What is next, a flock of sheep? Can't wait to see what you spin.


arleeno, Creator said...

oh miz, this is such a fantastic blog. your photos are great, takes me right there. thinking of you and the 'rug ladies' ~hugs, arleen