Pam Austin's Spinning School http://www.spinningschool.org Learn to spin long draw Sun, 03 Jun 2018 15:49:49 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 https://i0.wp.com/www.spinningschool.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/cropped-pam_s_logo-124x1241.png?fit=32%2C32 Pam Austin's Spinning School http://www.spinningschool.org 32 32 Spinning wheels – do they find people? http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/06/spinning-wheels-do-they-find-people/ http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/06/spinning-wheels-do-they-find-people/#respond 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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Spinning flax is a craft not often seen http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/05/spinning-flax-is-a-craft-not-often-seen/ http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/05/spinning-flax-is-a-craft-not-often-seen/#comments Thu, 03 May 2018 14:08:22 +0000 http://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6096 Spinning flax is a craft not often seen, and I have never taught it until Dani asked if she could learn last week. It was a painful experience. Nothing to do with the pupil - the teacher trapped her forefinger between the crank and the wheel hub- How to look a chump in one easy lesson! [...]

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Spinning flax is a craft not often seen, and I have never taught it until Dani asked if she could learn last week. It was a painful experience. Nothing to do with the pupil – the teacher trapped her forefinger between the crank and the wheel hub- How to look a chump in one easy lesson!  

Flax needs to be spun damp  and the other essential is a well=dressed distaff.  The spinner needs  a constant even supply of free-flowing fibre from the distaff – either that or four hands. It is often necessary to work with hands two feet apart  as each baste fibre is two to three feet long and needs to be drawn to the desired thickness for the linen thread.

It is extremely strong and, unlike wool, flax has no elasticity in itself so is not forgiving like wool; once the twist is in that is it, it will not break, nor yield in any way. Hence the importance of keeping a steady flow of fibres, if any of them are tangled, then the only way is to stop and sort things out. You can’t force flax. Once spun, it is known as linen and is most commonly seen in woven form.

well dressed distaff is key to successful spinning

As the image on my home-page shows, it is very strong and fine and makes lovely table linen. The journey form flax, the plant, to the table linen is very labour intensive, but the finished goods last for decades and the more it is laundered, the whiter it becomes.

The flax used here is from Flaxlands and was supplied combed and ready to use. More about spinning flax can be found in my forthcoming book; Hand spinning – essential technical and creative skills.

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Long draw spinning – is this a world’s first? http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/05/long-draw-spinning-is-this-a-worlds-first/ Tue, 01 May 2018 07:00:54 +0000 http://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6090 Long draw spinning - is this a world's first? Not the world's first long draw spinner of course  - there are probably fewer living today than there were in the medieval times. Question: is this the world's first 'Long draw spinner, Spinning on a Wheel made by her Grandfather'? It is certainly the first time [...]

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Long draw spinning – is this a world’s first? Not the world’s first long draw spinner of course  – there are probably fewer living today than there were in the medieval times. Question: is this the world’s first ‘Long draw spinner, Spinning on a Wheel made by her Grandfather’? It is certainly the first time in my kitchen! (My studio is out of use due to an oil leak*)

Pictured here with her first spinning in blue faced leicester prepared tops, Nikki was wondering what to do with it as she usually knits exquisite fingering-weight shawls. This first spinning was somewhat chunkier! but the primary objective in first spinning lessons is to learn the technique, not produce yarn that looks like it came off a conveyor belt.

 

Hand spinning is not about making yarn that you can buy off the shelf. Nikki’s first spinning has provenance. And she turned it into this cushion…

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Make Icelandic Elf pouch http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/04/make-icelandic-elf-pouch/ Sun, 29 Apr 2018 17:14:24 +0000 http://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6106 Make  Icelandic elf pouch at First Wednesday workshop this week in the practical room at Knuston Hall(lower car park). Store your mystic runes, or knitting place markers,  marbles, or sweets gifts in these little fairytale felt pouches inspired by Icelandic folklore. Or make some felt buttons, or simply bring your spinning wheel and spend the [...]

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Make  Icelandic elf pouch at First Wednesday workshop this week in the practical room at Knuston Hall(lower car park). Store your mystic runes, or knitting place markers,  marbles, or sweets gifts in these little fairytale felt pouches inspired by Icelandic folklore. Or make some felt buttons, or simply bring your spinning wheel and spend the day with like minded people who love doing woolly things and treat yourself to some quality time.

There will also be a Woolly Bring and Buy  stall in aid of Maggies at Addenbrooke’s hospital Cambridge which offers free support to cancer patients. The organisation has recently done a great job for one of our regular ladies and we would like to show our appreciation by way of a bring and buy.

Day includes three course lunch, coffee, tea and home-made cakes and biscuits. Bring an apron, your own fibre if you prefer, along with any felt making kit you might have. Spare aprons, Icelandic fleece in white, grey and brown, buttons and other essential felt-making kit will be supplied. No previous experience necessary – but booking is essential as only three spaces left –  telephone or email Pam to book. for more information see Events page.

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Beginner’s spinning http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/04/beginners-spinning/ Sun, 29 Apr 2018 11:38:51 +0000 http://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6085 Beginner's spinning 'First spinning is very special - it is the measure of future improvement - but it is difficult to imagine a more satisfying outcome of your first spinning than this lovely hat in blue faced Leicester fleece in its natural colours.  It is only a few weeks since Angie inherited her spinning wheel from [...]

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Beginner’s spinning ‘First spinning is very special – it is the measure of future improvement – but it is difficult to imagine a more satisfying outcome of your first spinning than this lovely hat in blue faced Leicester fleece in its natural colours. 

It is only a few weeks since Angie inherited her spinning wheel from her husband’s Aunt Barbara and had never spun before but is a keen knitter. ‘ Oh good, you can make me a hat’ said her sister when she heard the news. The wheel belonged to her aunt who is sadly too old to use it any more. Aunt Barbara wisely thought about who she knew who might use it before moving into residential care? She guessed absolutely right and recently had the pleasure of a 
first spinning

beginners spinning

 visit from her nephew and Angie. They took the wheel along too, and Angie did some spinning on it  – it was a very joyful occasion. The hat is due for delivery so another joyful and satisfying occasion is due.
I sometimes wonder if wheels find people…. Although it is over 30 years old, the Ashford traditional wheel is now working perfectly. The design has not changed in decades but new wheels incorporate up-to-date technology in bearings, joints and drive-bands, however the shape and structure remain  the same as the original design – which shows just how good it was.

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Dye workshop http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/04/dye-workshop/ Mon, 16 Apr 2018 10:11:52 +0000 http://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6079 Dye workshop in my studio came up with a whole range of fibres in toning colours to be spun into yarn for a Shetland Hap. My pupil dyed all these colours in the studio workshop - a one to one learning zone where mistakes are not  failure or wrong, simply part of the learning experience. [...]

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Dye workshop in my studio came up with a whole range of fibres in toning colours to be spun into yarn for a Shetland Hap. My pupil dyed all these colours in the studio workshop – a one to one learning zone where mistakes are not  failure or wrong, simply part of the learning experience. The day was scheduled around her personal needs; she wanted to dye some more fibres to match the ball of yarn in the featured image. We dyed blue faced Leicester fibre and BFL fleece, mohair locks and some yarn. Colours were mainly lavender and green and she will spin them up and possibly ply with silk or more mohair for the project. Some were dyed in two stages to achieve greater subtlety but the lavender was straight into a ready made acid dye bath. Dyes used were from Ashford and World of Wool, and the term ‘acid’ implies something rather unfriendly, but in actual fact the acid used is vinegar. The dyes will be colour fast and light fast which is one of the reasons I like to use them. Dyeing from plants is fun but the raw materials are not as readily available as these commercial ones where 10gm  will dye a Kilo of fibre. But for this workshop we used far less than dye than the recommended quantity as the fibre was all very fine and takes dye very easily.

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Spin long draw in one lesson http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/04/spin-long-draw-in-one-lesson/ Mon, 09 Apr 2018 10:26:23 +0000 http://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6075 Spin long draw in one lesson is achievable as this young lady recently demonstrated. Long Draw  technique is the hallmark of accomplishment in handspinning. This rosette, the second one to be awarded this month,  came as a great surprise to Melanie at only her second spinning lesson. It is always a great pleasure to see [...]

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Spin long draw in one lesson is achievable as this young lady recently demonstrated. Long Draw  technique is the hallmark of accomplishment in handspinning. This rosette, the second one to be awarded this month,  came as a great surprise to Melanie at only her second spinning lesson. It is always a great pleasure to see someone young enough to be my granddaughter learn quickly and demonstrate such skill. Partly this is because  I expect she will be spinning for many  years and hopefully inspiring others to spin this way, long after I am  dead and gone –  and this gives me great pleasure. My Long Draw Spinner rosettes recognise personal achievement and help spread the word about long draw. If only one in ten of my pupils were to eventually become spinning teachers  I think I will be getting somewhere…. there is still far too much misunderstanding about long draw. Only from rolags?American? English? How many Angels can we get on the head of a pin?

When I started the guild of long draw spinners eleven years ago (with a group of my pupils) my ambition was to establish a long draw spinning teacher in every guild in the country. It was an unrealistic ambition; just because I am a woman with a mission to teach long draw and help others achieve the same pleasure from it as I do, didn’t mean others felt the same. So, in 2010  I started my Spinning School instead, and have since helped and inspired hundreds of new spinners to get started.  I take genuine pleasure in seeing people grow and get more pleasure from their spinning –

when one can long draw it is usually possible to spin anything, on anything as it is such a consummate skill. As I say, if 10% of these spinners become teachers then I will be getting somewhere.

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Pothole outside Spinning studio http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/04/pothole-outside-spinning-studio/ http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/04/pothole-outside-spinning-studio/#comments Sun, 08 Apr 2018 17:54:15 +0000 http://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6071 Pothole outside Spinning studio is very dangerous and took out a front and back tyre of the same car this last bank holiday weekend. The county council's method of dealing with this hazard is astonishing...

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Pothole outside Spinning studio is very dangerous and took out a front and back tyre of the same car this last bank holiday weekend. The county council’s method of dealing with this hazard is astonishing…

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Robin in the greenhouse http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/04/robin-in-the-greenhouse/ http://www.spinningschool.org/2018/04/robin-in-the-greenhouse/#comments Mon, 02 Apr 2018 09:07:59 +0000 http://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6065 Robin in the greenhouse nesting in a bag I left on the staging during the winter. There are five white, brown speckled eggs in a beautiful nest made with only a beak. And we spinners make a fuss about making yarn when we have two hands and a host of technology to help us! Clever [...]

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Robin in the greenhouse nesting in a bag I left on the staging during the winter. There are five white, brown speckled eggs in a beautiful nest made with only a beak. And we spinners make a fuss about making yarn when we have two hands and a host of technology to help us! Clever robin for building the nest, but not so clever in its choice of location! Had I not been startled when it flew out I would have upended the whole robin homestead.  There will be no hope of tidying the shed and bringing the greenhouse into operation for several weeks now.

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