Spinning School https://www.spinningschool.org Pam Austin Fri, 09 Nov 2018 16:40:37 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 https://www.spinningschool.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/cropped-pam_s_logo-124x1241-90x90.png Spinning School https://www.spinningschool.org 32 32 Toadstool art yarn https://www.spinningschool.org/2018/10/toadstool-art-yarn/ Sat, 06 Oct 2018 02:17:40 +0000 http://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6426 Toadstool art yarn is named after some fungi that appeared this week in my stable yard. When Mary arrived for knitting yesterday she would not drive over the fungi to park in her usual place: ‘It’s so beautiful – I can’t bear to drive over, and spoil it’ she said. The colour of the fungi […]

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Toadstool art yarn is named after some fungi that appeared this week in my stable yard. When Mary arrived for knitting yesterday she would not drive over the fungi to park in her usual place: ‘It’s so beautiful – I can’t bear to drive over, and spoil it’ she said.
The colour of the fungi reminded me of some tops I dyed last week and spun up at Social Spinning,Knuston Hall on Wednesday. I took the photo to record the fungi, rather than the yarn – but the two look good together. Then it seemed the yarn had to be called Toadstool – so it became a sort of ‘Art yarn by retrospective design’.
The fungi comes up every year from the roots of an old silver birch. First it appears as grey toadstools, then each cap opens up and oozes black gunge. Sounds disgusting; looks beautiful.
The singles on the bobbin is hand-dyed BFL with a very small amount of angelina fibre to add a little interest. It is spun from rolags and at present I am not sure what it will be plyed with. The colours are very subtle and I don’t want to muddle them up. A Navajo ply will be too thick. I have a cone of silver metallic nylon which might make an interesting sock yarn if plyed with the toadstool. However, I will spin it all up before deciding. The colours would work well for men’s socks.
My knitting group takes place every Friday and anyone is welcome – particularly knitters who need help or inspiration. There are always lots of things going on.

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Beginner spinning to bouclè in five lessons https://www.spinningschool.org/2018/09/beginner-spinning-to-boucle-in-five-lessons/ Sun, 30 Sep 2018 18:48:19 +0000 http://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6415 Beginner spinning to bouclè in five lessons is all it took for Helen to become proficient with her hand spinning. Lesson 1-beginner spinning (long draw), 2-pying, 3- dyeing, 4-quality yarn from rolags, 5-bouclè. The purpose of each lesson was clearly defined in advance. Yesterday’s lesson was to make bouclè from hand dyed BFL top. The […]

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Beginner spinning to bouclè in five lessons is all it took for Helen to become proficient with her hand spinning. Lesson 1-beginner spinning (long draw), 2-pying, 3- dyeing, 4-quality yarn from rolags, 5-bouclè. The purpose of each lesson was clearly defined in advance. Yesterday’s lesson was to make bouclè from hand dyed BFL top. The colours had an almost animal quality about them – reminiscent of a cat’s undercoat and when the yarn was finished this was even more pronounced.
Helen brought along a glorious array of woolly things for winter made from her first spinning, first dyeing etc. Some of the items were from fleece which she prepared herself. Ann Budd’s book offers basic patterns for yarn of any thickness which takes out some of the guesswork. Result; One very happy spinner.
The yarn structure for Bouclè is threefold; a core, a fibre which is wrapped around the core, and a final binding thread applied in the opposite direction to the wrap. The spinning technique is core-spinning.
I used the Ashford e-spinner III to teach Helen how to wrap the fibre around the core – core-spinning. For the core we chose a chunky S-plyed commercial woollen yarn which blended well the fibre. The e-spinner was set to turn more slowly and smoothly than is possible with a treadle. Furthermore it leaves more ‘headspace’ to concentrate on what hands are doing without having to bother about feet as well.
The fibre wrap was a hand dyed BFL which we carefully pre-drafted to a smooth fine roving in advance of the spinning process. This was wrapped around the core in the traditional plying, S direction. The effect of this is to put extra twist into the core. Finally a binder thread in metallic nylon was applied in Z direction which has the effect of taking out much of the twist that was put in during the core-spinning.

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Rewards of teaching the young https://www.spinningschool.org/2018/09/rewards-of-teaching-the-young/ Tue, 25 Sep 2018 06:07:09 +0000 http://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6390 Rewards of teaching the young are not financial as I consider it an investment – as well as a lot of pleasure of course… I recently received this letter… Dear Pam, Tabitha [daughter]wanted me to write a note to you to thank you for teaching her how to felt. She really enjoys it and decided […]

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Rewards of teaching the young are not financial as I consider it an investment – as well as a lot of pleasure of course… I recently received this letter…
Dear Pam,
Tabitha [daughter]wanted me to write a note to you to thank you for teaching her how to felt. She really enjoys it and decided she would enter a felted picture into this years RSPB WildArt competition. Amazingly out of over 2000 entries Tabitha, who is 10, came joint second in her 8-12 age category. 
Her picture is to be displayed at the Natural Eye Exhibition in London in October, where she will get an award.
Attached is the picture she did, wet felting the background and needle felting the puffin
I think it helped that you had dyed some of the wool so it changed from yellow to blue gradually, and so it turned out perfect for the sky and the lighting. So a bit of your own work is in the finished product too!!
Another development is we are doing our wool/fibre/felting day workshop on 22nd September and around 30 children plus parents are coming. The various samples you gave are great, and Kezia[older daughter whom I taught to spin] has even started to keep some silkworms that are growing rapidly. Hopefully we will get some of our own silk cocoons in a few weeks.
I thought you would like to know the good news of your investments!!
Love,
Elizabeth

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Doodler shawl by Erica https://www.spinningschool.org/2018/09/doodler-shawl-by-erica/ https://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 https://www.spinningschool.org/2018/08/long-draw-spinning-and-joy-to-the-world/ 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 https://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 https://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 https://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 https://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 https://www.spinningschool.org/2018/08/long-draw-spinning-in-2-days/ https://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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