Spent more time this week spinning Dottie singles on Elsa.
And it’s gotten me thinking about the upcoming WSU Country Living Expo, and the classes I’ll be teaching. Particularly the spinning class.
It’s a two-hour class. In the first hour we generally go over the wheels that students have brought to class and make sure that they are set up to spin (drive bands, brake bands, yarn leaders, tension adjustments, alignment issues, lubrication). We also go over general wheel mechanics, and the basics of yarn structure.
In the second hour we get hands (and feet) on the wheels and start playing with wool. It’s always a bit daunting for folks, so usually we start with treadling, making sure that everything is moving smoothly, and that they are able to find a comfortable rhythm that they can sustain without taking up much of their focus.
Then we move on to the hands. For beginners, I find that the hardest part is getting the hands to keep us with the feet. There is a tendency to want to hold on tightly to the wool and not let it draft. So in past years I’ve introduced an exercise that I think is helpful to get a feel for how the hands need to move to keep up with the feet.
I give everyone a substantial length of sacrificial yarn to “spin” onto their bobbin, permitting them to sense how quickly the spin is entering the fiber, and how strong the take-up is.
When they think they are ready, we move on to drafting from carded batts (probably Esther, and easy-spinning girl with nice long staple length)
This is always a major leap. Drafting is really the meat of the subject, but it’s something that only really comes together with practice, and familiarity with the fiber. And there’s only so much of that you can squeeze into a two-hours class.
So, I’d like to ask those of you who are spinners- what was most helpful to you when you were first learning to spin? I’d really appreciate any hints or strategies that you think might be helpful getting newbies started and building their confidence.
Thanks in advance for you input, and have a great week! 🙂