One of the problems that I had, was that Mark was quite insistent that we learn how to use a drop spindle before we could move on to using the wheel. I don't know about the rest of you, but this was not a happy experience for me. I am a natural klutz and tend to do things like walk into walls, miss stairs, and drop things. Especially drop spindles. I finally told Mark that the drop spindle was not going to be part of my life (so much for my life as a fortune teller), and went to right to the wheel.
Where I could spin. This is not to say I didn't make the same lumpy-bumpy yarn. However, I could make yarn.
Now, I'm wild for others to learn to spin. I especially enjoy getting fiber producers to where they spin. If the person raising your wool spins, then they have a much greater appreciation about how darn irritating it is when you have bad fiber. All of a sudden, they become almost as fanatical as the rest of us about reducing the number of second-cuts by the shearers. I even know some fiber producers who organize 'weed walks' to hand-pull particularly noxious weeds.
The technique I finally came up with to get people spinning follows.
The left hand is drawing out the fiber and opening up the drafting triangle. The right hand is 'pinching off' the fiber and then opening up to let a small of twist through to the drafting triangle. They can see the twist run up into the triangle. And how I can stop it by pinching off the twist. So I do this for ~five minutes. I let a bit of twist into the triangle, pinch off, and draw my left hand out away from the twist. I let a bit of twist into the triangle, pinch off, and draw my left hand out away from the twist. When I get a bit of yarn, then I let it wind onto the bobbin.
So now they're spinning.
I sit and card fiber for them for awhile, then after a few minutes wonder off.
The whole process takes 15-30 minutes. Now, are they spinners? Well, yes and no. They have spun a yarn. And hopefully it was a pleasant experience.
But I also tell them that there's a lot more to learn. Like plying and spinning different fibers. And controlling the thickness of the yarn. Or even making it more even. I try to avoid the discussion of wool combing because I will go "right around the bend" and go into a 2-hour monologue and drag out the scary wool combs.
And the whole purpose is simply to introduce them to spinning and have it be a positive experience.
There are many approaches to teaching spinning. Many people have successfully learned from books. Two books that have helped many people get started are:
If you have comments, please send email to: Rosemary Brock.
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