Spinning School http://www.spinningschool.org Pam Austin Thu, 13 Sep 2018 16:42:11 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 http://www.spinningschool.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/cropped-pam_s_logo-124x1241-90x90.png Spinning School http://www.spinningschool.org 32 32 Doodler shawl by Erica http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/09/doodler-shawl-by-erica/ http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/09/doodler-shawl-by-erica/#comments Tue, 04 Sep 2018 09:13:35 +0000 http://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6229 This fabulous work reminds me of sunrise straking out across an imaginary landscape. It is worked by my Knitting Advisor, Erica. Also in the picture is Val who teaches long draw spinning in the Leicester area. Erica told me The pattern for the shawl is called ‘the Doodler’ and is byStephen West – it is […]

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This fabulous work reminds me of sunrise straking out across an imaginary landscape. It is worked by my Knitting Advisor, Erica. Also in the picture is Val who teaches long draw spinning in the Leicester area. Erica told me The pattern for the shawl is called ‘the Doodler’ and is byStephen West – it is available on Ravelry costing about £5
The yarn is fingering or 4 ply sock yarn and can be made from 3 100gm balls of different colours and 3.5 mm circular needles – whatever colours you choose !
The whole shawl is knitted in garter stitch and is easy as long as you can count – the great thing about it is that it works – if you follow the pattern things happen in the right places and you have the right number of stitches (even if there are a lot of them sometimes)
He also has a couple of helpful utube videos to show you the cast off and edgings
I suppose it took me about three weeks of evening knitting to complete but was great fun to knit even the edging when you had a lot of stitches and never boring! The 34 stitch cable was certainly different !
I think it works well with at least one multicoloured yarn but on Ravelry there are many examples of the different colour ways it can be done

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Long draw spinning and Joy to the World http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/08/long-draw-spinning-and-joy-to-the-world/ http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/08/long-draw-spinning-and-joy-to-the-world/#respond Fri, 31 Aug 2018 18:11:48 +0000 http://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6217 Long draw spinning and Joy to the World as another star pupil makes it onto my ever-growing list of acclaimed Long Draw Spinners – all accredited with specially commissioned rosettes. This happy lady recently received her rosette – a tremendous achievement in only five weeks and three lessons: Lesson 1 – long draw technique, Lesson […]

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Long draw spinning and Joy to the World as another star pupil makes it onto my ever-growing list of acclaimed Long Draw Spinners – all accredited with specially commissioned rosettes. This happy lady recently received her rosette – a tremendous achievement in only five weeks and three lessons: Lesson 1 – long draw technique, Lesson 2 plying, Lesson 3 rolags and spinning a quality yarn. She started with my Beginners’ Pack on a traditional wheel. And worked at it! She then tried other wheels including the Kiwi and Joy. The Ashford Joy wheel ticked all the boxes! If ever a spinning wheel was well named it is the Joy 2.Ashford Joy 2 double treadle A joy to (2) spin on – I love my Joy. ‘Joy To the World’ as the tuneful Christmas carol goes (whoops – don’t mention Christmas, it is only August)

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Spinning lessons make happy smiles http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/08/spinning-lessons-make-happy-smiles/ Wed, 29 Aug 2018 17:44:00 +0000 http://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6213 Spinning lessons make happy smiles as well as sumptuous yarn as this photo of my happy pupil shows. She is holding her first spinning which turned out much better than she expected – as I find it always does! First spinning is very important as it is the benchmark upon which to assess progress. Lesson […]

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Spinning lessons make happy smiles as well as sumptuous yarn as this photo of my happy pupil shows. She is holding her first spinning which turned out much better than she expected – as I find it always does! First spinning is very important as it is the benchmark upon which to assess progress. Lesson 1 is to learn the technique of long draw: once that is mastered it is possible to spin almost anything – from yak with <1inch staple - to a long curly lock. Lesson 2 is to ply whatever the pupil can get onto two bobbins. On a scale of difficulty 1-10, learning long draw is 9.5, but learning to ply is about 2-3. All the hard work is over by then. And the plyed yarn always comes as a pleasant surprise to the beginner who thinks they have spun rubbish until they see it plyed...

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Knitting on the Nene http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/08/knitting-on-the-nene/ Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:31:29 +0000 http://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6208 Knitting on the Nene. No better place to be than this lovely little backwater where I stayed overnight on Saturday evening – in spite of the weather forecast which was for rain. No rain fell until Sunday morning. And early in the morning I sat out in the cockpit with my knitting and some fresh […]

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Knitting on the Nene. No better place to be than this lovely little backwater where I stayed overnight on Saturday evening – in spite of the weather forecast which was for rain. No rain fell until Sunday morning. And early in the morning I sat out in the cockpit with my knitting and some fresh coffee. No-one but me and then, along came Seven Cygnets a Swimming, accompanied by their parents. I think some may have been adopted as seven seems quite a brood. It made a lovely sight. They arrived silently and cruised on by without a sound and hardly a ripple on the water.
Also on the river was a kingfisher which I didn’t see until something plopped into the river in front of me and flew off again. It settled on a nearby boat and I watched intently…sure enough…it was a kingfisher and there was another splash followed by a glorious flash of colour as it skimmed down the river about 2 feet above the surface. Magic moments. Seven Swans a Swimming, Six Geese a laying, Five G-old rings…too early for Christmas and too slow for a photo of Flashy the kingfisher

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Successful spinning lessons http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/08/successful-spinning-lessons/ Sat, 18 Aug 2018 23:22:41 +0000 http://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6186 Successful spinning lessons are a great joy to me. Another promising pupil is my neighbour who has her own sheep – she learned to spin on her first lesson. Like all my pupils, she learned to spin on Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) prepared tops. I always start beginners off on BFL as it is the […]

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Successful spinning lessons are a great joy to me. Another promising pupil is my neighbour who has her own sheep – she learned to spin on her first lesson. Like all my pupils, she learned to spin on Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) prepared tops. I always start beginners off on BFL as it is the easy to spin. Merino top is easy too, but to mind it is environmentally unacceptable to use something from the other side of the world, when there is as good as, or even better fibre on the doorstep.
My neighbour came for her refresher and plying lesson a week later on a Friday afternoon when I have a knitting group* and everyone there was very complimentary about her first spinning. It can be very reassuring see people react so positively to one’s work. For all my new pupil knew, I could have been just flattering her when I said her first work was very good but I never waste my time with flattery as everyone knows a fraud when they see it! When she saw for herself how the knitters responded with such pleasure and surprise to her first spinning – and very, successful spinning lesson – it was very positive affirming experience. All very pleasing and one of the reasons I so much enjoy what I do.

*Knitting is from 2-5pm in my studio and spills over into the house or gazebo as necessary. Any knitter, beginner or not, is welcome to come along regardless of if they are spinners. It is a great place for free help and advice and no fee other than a donation of £3 for tea.

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Dyeing fleece http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/08/dyeing-fleece/ Tue, 14 Aug 2018 09:28:33 +0000 http://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6178 Dyeing fleece, an essential technical and creative skill, along with fibre choice, colour skills, spinning technique and yarn architecture, is a basic element of yarn design and a sure way to lift the spirits! Dyeing is with Ashford Dye and the technique is called rainbow dyeing and described in the book. The curly fleece is […]

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Dyeing fleece, an essential technical and creative skill, along with fibre choice, colour skills, spinning technique and yarn architecture, is a basic element of yarn design and a sure way to lift the spirits! Dyeing is with Ashford Dye and the technique is called rainbow dyeing and described in the book. The curly fleece is Teeswater and it was plyed with the commercial skein of wool(right of the fleece picture) which is leftover stock from a wool shop that closed over 20 years ago – the best environmental policy is re-use, not recycle in my opinion. The finished yarn lifts my spirits, as did the process of spinning and plying it. A joyful time – maybe I should call the yarn ‘Joy’ as it was spun on a Ashford Joy wheel discounts for pupils-please askwith a freedom flyer.
Colour skills are one of the basic elements of yarn design that form chapters in my new book: Hand spinning -essential technical and creative skills.Buy All spinners are yarn designers whether they think about it or not. Unless one thinks about it, yarn design is simply the default position: i.e ‘That’s how I spin’, hence the personal opportunity to create a truly unique yarn is lost.
Part of the Teeswater yarn design was aimed at maintaining the natural curly textural appearance of the fleece, and so there was no carding before spinning. The only preparation after dyeing fleece was to separate out the individual locks and remove any debris. The spinning technique was to draw out away from, not towards, the orifice. This gives the opportunity to add or release fibres as necessary in oder to create the look I want – and to see what it is like before it disappears down the orifice onto the bobbin. If I allowed the tension of the wheel to draw the fibres in and simply pushed fibre towards the orifice there would be little or no opportunity to see what I had spun and hence no chance of influencing the final appearance of the yarn. Finally it was plyed with the commercial skein which was dyed with Ashford Dyes at the same time as the Teeswater and other fleece, in the same dye bath- dyeing fleece.
The fleece to the left and foreground of the picture is a cross between Shetland and Gotland; it will be drum carded with bleached tussah silk and spun at my next Spinning Retreat at Launde Abbey. The fleece came from a colleague of Jackie Speed at Purlwise Best place for knitting tuition and yarn

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Long draw spinning in 2 days http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/08/long-draw-spinning-in-2-days/ http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/08/long-draw-spinning-in-2-days/#comments Sat, 11 Aug 2018 07:45:16 +0000 http://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6168 Long draw spinning in 2 days is a remarkable achievement, especially when you consider Ann had no previous experience when she started her two day course last Tuesday. The following day she had become so skilful I awarded her one of my Long Draw Spinner rosettes. It was all very, very pleasing. Even her first […]

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Long draw spinning in 2 days is a remarkable achievement, especially when you consider Ann had no previous experience when she started her two day course last Tuesday. The following day she had become so skilful I awarded her one of my Long Draw Spinner rosettes. It was all very, very pleasing. Even her first long draw spinning was the best I had ever seen – but she had booked two full day’s tuition so was under guidance throughout which most pupils do not have. Most pupils have a two hour lesson and then go home and, I suspect, struggle a fair bit before sorting it out for themselves. Ann lives a three hour drive away and has her own sheep, and hence fleece; she booked two full days for spinning lessons and fleece prep tuition and stayed at The White Horse, Stoke Albany which is a five-minute walk away from my studio.
Our programme was
Ann – 7-8th August 2018
Hand spinning – Getting Started
Tuesday
10.00 Spinning Without a wheel
11.00 Fleece – Finding the best
12.00 Spinning on a wheel – hands only
lunch
2.00 Fleece – Washing
3.00 Spinning on a wheel – hands and feet
4.00 Plying & practise
Wednesday
10.00 Spinning -getting started (as Tuesday)
11.00 Fleece prep – carding and rolags
12.00 Spinning – hands and feet
lunch
– fun – fun – fun – fun –

Spinning lesson plan had to be changed, because by the end of the day on Tuesday Ann had already mastered Wednesday morning’s session. So on Wednesday morning she learned how to treadle very slowly to avoid over-twisting (the most common problem) and it all started to fall into place. Hands and feet in harmony, making twist at the speed at which she was using it. When the balance between fibre and twist is just right the thread will draw out up to an arms length at a time. It feels stretchy what I call ‘the chewing gum moment’ when the fibres are free to attenuate into an even thread. It was all very satisfying and the predicted ‘fun’ for the afternoon was a glorious time spent experimenting with colour, fibre and textures.

Long draw spinning is the hallmark of achievement in hand spinning. I find that once a spinner has mastered this technique they can spin any fibre, even staple length of <3cms, and can spin on anything from a drop spindle to a great wheel. I find a lot of long draw spinners eventually choose a double band drive wheel, but I was more than happy to know Ann would continue on her Ashford traditional wheel. It suited her very well. It is important to me to see that a pupil finds the wheel that is right for them, and I ensure they try different wheels before making a purchase. Happy Days.

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messing about on the river http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/07/messing-about-on-the-river-3/ http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/07/messing-about-on-the-river-3/#comments Fri, 27 Jul 2018 10:47:13 +0000 http://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6161 ‘There are long boats and short boats and ALL KINDS OF CRAFT…’ I am moored at Warmington Mill where there are all kinds of craft as the song goes; I have never seen anything like this craft*in the foreground. The pilot, who built the top part of this amazing feat of engineering, from a redundant […]

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‘There are long boats and short boats and ALL KINDS OF CRAFT…’ I am moored at Warmington Mill where there are all kinds of craft as the song goes; I have never seen anything like this craft*in the foreground. The pilot, who built the top part of this amazing feat of engineering, from a redundant garden rotovator and tines from a combine harvester, is cutting weed to keep the waterway navigable as far as the mill race at Elton Boat Club. Elton boat club
*in the background is a very smart boat whose charming crew helped me through the Elton and Warmington locks last week on my return from Peterborough. My boat is not smart. It is about 50 years old and has taken some severe knocks in its time – some of them due to unreliable piloting. The last knock was when I hit a tree…the river was wide and running slow, the sun was shining and all was peaceful and I thought, ‘hmm I’m doing ok on my own’ Then I remembered the G & T (poured before the previous lock and still in the cabin)…I left the steering wheel and popped below to pick up the drink. I was only gone a second, but the boat did a quick list to starboard and embedded itself into a very unforgiving tree.
I thought the boat would keep going straight… next thing I get a bump on the head, the G & T went flying, and I am surrounded by leaves and branches. Won’t do that again. This picture was taken at Wadenhoe several years ago with my three youngest grandchildren on board – and no time for G&Ts. –

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Spinning wheels – do they find people? http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/06/spinning-wheels-do-they-find-people/ Sun, 03 Jun 2018 15:49:49 +0000 http://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6099 Spinning wheels – do they find people? I begin to think that some might have their own agenda. The wheel being used here is a flax wheel, they are not very popular with modern spinners as the orifice is so small that only very fine yarn can be spun on them. They are great for […]

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Spinning wheels – do they find people? I begin to think that some might have their own agenda. The wheel being used here is a flax wheel, they are not very popular with modern spinners as the orifice is so small that only very fine yarn can be spun on them. They are great for flax – but not many spinners, particularly beginners whom I mostly teach, want to spin flax.

The wheel arrived *uninvited at my studio door (*it was very welcome all the same) last year. It belonged to the mother of a friend of a neighbour who had never used it other than as an ornament and she no longer had space for it.  I had no use that I could see for it either, but as I run a free stable for orphaned spinning wheels I welcomed it in, but with no real hope of ever seeing it put to use. My neighbour’s friend didn’t want to sell the wheel, but was just looking for a home for it. So I left it sitting in my studio, just to make it feel welcome…

Two days later on 3rd June, one of my pupils came for her final lesson and to return the wheel she had borrowed. She had no real hope of being able to afford at wheel at that time, but  just wanted to learn to spin. She had only had one lesson the previous month and I had not seen her in-between times as she live over an hours’ drive away.

Much to my delight and joy she was spinning really well and looked absolutely on top of the job, chatting and spinning at the same time which is always a good sign. It is  such a joy when this happens. But alas she couldn’t afford a wheel at this particular time in her life. I knew that feeling only too well and can remember the longing I had for a wheel and how hopeless the thought of having my own seemed.

The newby flax job, the one whose previous owner was just looking for a home  for it, was still sitting quietly in the corner of the studio where my neighbour had left it. With hindsight,  I think it might have been pursuing its own agenda and sitting there wishing ‘Me!’ Me, What about me!.  I suggested my pupil try it  – not thinking for a moment she would be able to spin on it as I had tried and knew it was not an easy deal. The wheel was small, and hence more difficult to keep going, and the orifice and hooks so tiny and sure to catch at the first bit of free fibre.

I left the pair of them, wheel and pupil,  on their own to see if they might get on. They were a match made in heaven. She could spin on it no problem and was so happy. So was I. So was my neighbour to whom she wrote a little thank you note, and I guess, so was the wheel.

I have not heard from either of them since, I hope they lived happily ever after… as I say, I sometimes wonder if wheels find new owners…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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spinning locks http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/05/spinning-locks/ Thu, 31 May 2018 11:22:45 +0000 http://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6125 Spinning locks for my workshop on Wednesday at Knuston Hall – huge fun. Some is spun to show the yarn structure, and some spun just for the joy of spinning it. The mohair is from one of my pupils who keeps Angora goats and sells the fleece to order. It is such a joy to […]

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Spinning locks for my workshop on Wednesday at Knuston Hall – huge fun. Some is spun to show the yarn structure, and some spun just for the joy of spinning it. The mohair is from one of my pupils who keeps Angora goats and sells the fleece to order. It is such a joy to run your hands through it the locks they are so silky and soft and open up to the touch making them easy to spin. Yu

yarns from Wensleydale (grey), BFL (green) and Angora

m! See events page

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