It is this time of year when my spinning wheel calls my name again and again. I have not responded much to it, but I am dying to sit in front of it and admire the magical process of transforming some fluff into yarn.
While I was (and still am) struggling to find some time to devote to spinning regularly, I jumped at the opportunity to share a little bit of spinning with fifteen or so very special people: I did a little talk and demo to a group of under-4s. It was a very interesting challenge to keep up their interest while sharing some knowledge with them. Speaking in front of little people is great fun, but yes… challenging.
I had brought a few samples and objects with me: raw (cleaned) locks of wool, two huge squishy batts of prepared fibre, some handspun yarn, a hand knit stuffed sheep (Miranda the Masham Sheep – designed by Janice), a drop spindle and my spinning wheel. Obviously, their interest was drawn to the wheel, but we started by a little chat about wool: where it comes from (Miranda!); what colour sheep are (no, not just white, and they knew that!), what we can use yarn for (knitting?), and to knit what, etc. The children got to squish the wool, look at the locks, smell the batts. It was really lovely to see their faces and listen to their chatter.
I had flicked a few locks of wool to show how fibre can be pulled apart, and ‘glued’ back together. And how adding a little bit of twist made it strong enough that it couldn’t be pulled apart. Magic!
And so, we discussed the wheel. I certainly didn’t expect them to understand how the flyer and bobbin work, but we discussed about how the pedal/treadle makes the big wheel turn, and how the big wheel makes the little wheel turn. And obviously, safety rules: do not put little fingers under the treadle, or don’t try to touch the flyer when it turns… And when I sat at the wheel and did a little demo, transforming a white cloud of wool into yarn, their excitement was priceless.
As they were getting restless (20 minutes is quite long at this age…), I quickly made an Andean bracelet with what I had spun, and quickly plied it, wrapped around my forearm and made a mini-skein for them to add to their class folder, along with some fibre. Hopefully, a few of them will remember some of the process, and some of the magic, and… who knows, maybe they will want to spin some day?
Since then, I spun (part of) one of the batts I took to the demo. And I learned a lesson: never ever leave Gotland fibre to rest: spin it right away. I had read that Gotland can felt just like that, even in gentle storage with no movement whatsoever, and I didn’t quite believe it. Well, now, I do. The outer layer of the batt had felted slightly and was not suitable for spinning. I have saved it for now and will try to felt it more and turn it into something (a bag maybe? not sure).
No matter our age, it’s all about learning, right?
Aurelie / spinnygonzalez
PS: Speaking about sheep, fibre and all the good things, Woolfest is coming soon and I will be there! If you are heading that way too and want to meet up, please drop me a line and we can arrange something. I will be there on Saturday. Less than a week to go now… (bounce bounce bounce)