With some trepidation, I agreed to do a beginners spinning workshop with Stephanie ( http://www.theyarnroom.com/ ), Irene ( http://wandaswonders.wordpress.com/ ) and Nicola ( http://clasheen.wordpress.com/ ) in the Arts Courthouse in Tinahealy Saturday last (Jan 31). As it turned out, I had 5 of the most pleasant and intelligent students and they were a pleasure to work with.
One of my fears was that I had so many thoughts about what to do that I'd confuse the heck out of all and turn them off spinning, yarn and workshops for like. Having done a rather intensive spinning week in the Lake District myself, I know how bleary your head can get after a load of new information is thrown at you - especially when you are trying to manoeuver a new peice of equipment at the same time.
Anyway, I shaved my objectives down to a smaller list as follows: 1) They would all spin and ply a little of something on a spindle 2) They'd see the spinning wheel in action, see how it relates to the spindle and have a go on it 3) I'd hammer in that it's all about drafting - the machines just help with that - an rid them of any mystique sometimes surrounding these activities. (The thing is great enough in itself - don't need no mystique).
Other things that might or might not go in at first pass included: the objectives of spinning a yarn i.e. to get a useable yarn that might fit into some pattern . That means aiming to produce something fairly consistent in size and twist the operative word being "aiming" - no need to worry at the outset there will be plenty of "character" like it or not ; where yarns come from illustrated by having some fleece around and the way yarns can differ depending on what the starting fibers were and also how it is handled and spun; the place of the hand carder and drum carding and the fun of blending colors. And in the end, that almost anything can be spun if prepared for it.
What I should have spent more time on, I think, is how to manage the commercial tops etc. that people often buy - especially the nice, soft Merino. This got underdone as I don't think it's fair to begin spinners on these lovely fibers as it may take a bit more experience to spin them. So I used mainly my own rougher fleece as it catches easier and "wants" to spin. Didn't get to soaking the spun yarn so they could see how the plied fiber sets after wash and dry (which is also a nice experience) but I think there was enough going on as it was. Another thing, when I do this again, I'll use more prepared rolags as they are so much easier to spin (I'd forgotten that).
The atmosphere , with the knitting, felting, crocheting going on all at the same time was in a nice surrounding was pretty good indeed. Looking forward to another session on March 21st (now sheep - control yourselves!)