Spinning School https://www.spinningschool.org Pam Austin Thu, 16 Jan 2020 10:04:26 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.13 https://www.spinningschool.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/cropped-pam_s_logo-124x1241-90x90.png Spinning School https://www.spinningschool.org 32 32 Spinning on a great wheel https://www.spinningschool.org/2020/01/spinning-on-a-great-wheel/ https://www.spinningschool.org/2020/01/spinning-on-a-great-wheel/#respond Thu, 16 Jan 2020 10:00:22 +0000 https://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6707 Spinning on a great wheel is the ultimate test of competence in hand spinning. Unless you can spin long draw it is not possible to use  a great  wheel effectively. Spinning is done with the left hand while the right hand turns the wheel. The spinner walks backwards drawing out long lengths of singles thread […]

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Spinning on a great wheel is the ultimate test of competence in hand spinning. Unless you can spin long draw it is not possible to use  a great  wheel effectively. Spinning is done with the left hand while the right hand turns the wheel. The spinner walks backwards drawing out long lengths of singles thread at a time – as Marlena demonstrates here at her first  lesson on the great wheel this week.

spinning lesson on great wheel

She learned long draw on a traditional wheel and also spins on a top-whorl drop spindle. After an hour or so she was able to produce a thread. As most spinners are right -handed, the first task is to get used to drawing out the thread with the left hand instead of the right.

During the lesson I took a  video. It proved an invaluable teaching aid. We played it back on my iMac big screen. I stopped the video at relevant points to explain how she could improve her technique – simple things like ‘if your hand was here instead of there, you would be able to’…etc. 

I love sharing my passion for long draw spinning – life’s too short for anything less than long draw in my opinion. Teaching on the Great Wheel is a particular joy because I feel it connects across the centuries. I am passing on a skill that transcends time and space. It is a magical experience.

Unlike on a modern traditional wheel, there is no orifice or flyer on a Great wheel. Instead, twist is made by keeping the leader thread on the point of the spindle shaft. Because the wheel is so large and the spindle it drives very small, twist is made very quickly.  And so thread. The spindle point needs to be fairly sharp – how the  fairy tale Princess pricked her finger! Spinning on great wheel is easier from rolags (carded, sausage-shaped rolls of fleece), as was the standard practice in Medieval times.

My great wheel is a replica of one we know existed in the 1300s (P Austin: HandSpinning Essential technical and creative skills. Crowood Press 2018, page40).

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Gift of Spinning at Christmas https://www.spinningschool.org/2019/12/gift-of-spinning-at-christmas/ https://www.spinningschool.org/2019/12/gift-of-spinning-at-christmas/#comments Wed, 18 Dec 2019 16:37:17 +0000 https://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6701 Gift of Spinning at Christmas is often overlooked. Without spinning Jesus,Mary, Joseph, shepherds and kings would all be naked.  Apart from hide or felt, I can’t think of a way to make clothing without spinning. Even domesticating animals requires rope – i.e. spun or twisted fibre, for tethering and fencing. Spinning must be the most […]

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Gift of Spinning at Christmas is often overlooked. Without spinning Jesus,Mary, Joseph, shepherds and kings would all be naked.  Apart from hide or felt, I can’t think of a way to make clothing without spinning. Even domesticating animals requires rope – i.e. spun or twisted fibre, for tethering and fencing. Spinning must be the most ancient of skills, like making fire.  But spinning mostly goes unnoticed.

These spinning wheels in my studio window will soon be Christmas gifts. I believe the real gift is in the spinning. I have seen a lot of healing take place when people come to spinning; too much for it to be an accident.   In learning to spin, it seems as if people often reconnect with themselves or ancestry at some deep level. And in doing so, they find peace and satisfaction; not necessarily a cure, but a healing.

Historically, not much is recorded about spinning and textiles. Yet we are quite accustomed to seeing portraits of kings and queens displaying their wealth and power through their clothing. And stand silent in awe as ancient Egyptian kings are exhumed from their tombs wrapped in cotton spun more finely than any you can buy today in John Lewis.  It seems odd that something so integral should get so little attention.

Spinning is timeless. Like Christmas, it is full of mystery, and love, and is a paradox. Kings bring ‘valuable’ gifts of gold frankincense and myrrh, while the work of an unknown spinner preserves the life of a baby as his mother wraps Him in swaddling clothes…

 

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First long draw spinner from Japan https://www.spinningschool.org/2019/11/6689/ Thu, 07 Nov 2019 20:18:04 +0000 https://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6689 My first pupil from Japan has earned her Long Draw Spinner rosette after only two lessons. A tremendous achievement for a pupil whose first lesson took place just three weeks ago. She has also made the felted fox who My first pupil from Japan has earned her Long draw Spinner Rosette after only two lessons. A tremendous achievement […]

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My first pupil from Japan has earned her Long Draw Spinner rosette after only two lessons. A tremendous achievement for a pupil whose first lesson took place just three weeks ago. She has also made the felted fox who My first pupil from Japan has earned her Long draw Spinner Rosette after only two lessons. A tremendous achievement for a pupil who first lesson took place just three weeks ago. She has also made a felted fox who looks very cosy hiding beneath the rosette. She chose an Ashford Joy wheel that folds up  into a strong secure bag suitable for air freight, so that she can take it back to Japan when she returns. I am hopeful that Japan will soon have its first Long Draw Spinning teacher.  

Felted fox

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The Joy of Socks https://www.spinningschool.org/2019/11/the-joy-of-socks/ Mon, 04 Nov 2019 10:15:04 +0000 https://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6678 The joy of socks is all-embracing. Someone asked me the other day if I ever wear anything I have spun? Well Yes,I do. And so do lots of other people too. Mostly it is socks; from the joy of spinning, through knitting and wearing them or, better still, giving them to someone I love to […]

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The joy of socks is all-embracing. Someone asked me the other day if I ever wear anything I have spun? Well Yes,I do. And so do lots of other people too. Mostly it is socks; from the joy of spinning, through knitting and wearing them or, better still, giving them to someone I love to wear, socks are a ceaseless source of pleasure. Seamless socks The joy of putting your feet in a pair of hand knitted socks needs to be experienced to be believed. One of my grandsons only wears his when he doesn't feel well - calls them his 'Poorly socks'. Hand knitted socks stay where they are put because they are knitted slightly smaller than the foot and the knitted yarn - I use 75% wool with something stronger like silk - eases out to a snug fit where necessary and hugs close in the other places. And there are no seams to press on little toes in your shoes. Mine are mostly made from a single length of yarn from top to toe with no join.
Hand dyed Blue faced Leicester fleece – 75% of sock yarn.
This summer I made some 'Sweet pea socks' as the dyed yarn was just the colours of some sweet peas growing beside my greenhouse. I mixed in some silk for strength and luxurious feel, along with some angelina fibre to add a little sparkle. I was not knitting them for anyone in particular, just because that is what I do.
Summer day on the Nene
On the day I finished Sweet Pea socks I was on my boat; a 50+ year old cabin cruiser that has seen better days like its owner, but happily both are still afloat. I was peacefully moored up near Fotheringhay on a sunny Sunday afternoon ready to attend a concert in the church in the evening. One of my daughter's called to say she was sitting on the river bank with a bottle of champagne and would I pick her up? Well I don't like going under Fotheringhay bridge but the attraction of my daughter on the other side of it with a bottle of Champagne was good reason to put down my knitting and head off under it once more (the bridge is a bit too small in my opinion...). We opened the champagne. I finished the socks. She tried them on. They fitted perfectly. What Joy!
Sweet pea socks

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Dyeing for summer school https://www.spinningschool.org/2019/07/dyeing-for-summer-school/ https://www.spinningschool.org/2019/07/dyeing-for-summer-school/#comments Tue, 23 Jul 2019 13:01:13 +0000 https://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6663 Dyeing for summer school is priority with only four days to go. Bundles such as this are to help and inspire spinners dyeing their own fibre for sock yarn next weekend. Amazing the difference what a little pot of Ashford dye (£6.40) and some vinegar can make. Knit socks. We will be making luscious socks […]

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Dyeing for summer school is priority with only four days to go. Bundles such as this are to help and inspire spinners dyeing their own fibre for sock yarn next weekend. Amazing the difference what a little pot of Ashford dye (£6.40) and some vinegar can make.
Sweet Pea Socks – hand dyed BFL – 75% of sock yarn.
Knit socks.
We will be making luscious socks that will bring joy to the eye – as well as the feet.
There’s much more to socks than an luscious yarn…You need the skill to knit them and for this we have professional tuition from Jacqui at Purlwise – Jacqui is to knitting what I am to spinning – but we both spin and knit. We just love what we do and never happier than when sharing out passion. You can learn to knitt from scatch, and for those that can already knit, learn how to knit socks – quickly and without complexity.
Spin socks
Hand spun socks need control over every aspect of yarn design, spinning method, fibre choice, yarn structure, and colour. But to make something really special it takes that little bit of inspiration to turn it into an art form. And where better to look for inspiration on a hot day like this than the garden. Hence the the names ‘Sweet Pea’ and ‘Geranium’.
Hand spun Socks – joy to the eye as well as the feet
Freedom
And during all this woolly jollity we will be free of all responsibility – no meal prep or washing up, no telephone or emails to answer (unless you want to) and no-one expecting anything of you but to have fun.
Free
What’s more, the Wool to Eternity Goody bag (free to those doing 3 days) contains a skein of Purlwise sock yarn and a pot of Ashford dye to keep you inspired when you get home…as well as lots of other things to make you happy every day.
Happy Days
Sounds like heaven to me. Wool to eternity Summer School. Just Dyeing for it.

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summer school for all who love wool – any skill level https://www.spinningschool.org/2019/07/summer-school-for-all-who-love-wool-any-skill-level/ https://www.spinningschool.org/2019/07/summer-school-for-all-who-love-wool-any-skill-level/#comments Tue, 16 Jul 2019 12:08:43 +0000 https://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6657 Summer School at Knuston Hall for all who love wool – any skill level. Two, three day summer breaks that will feel like heaven. Saturday 27-Monday 29 July and, Wednesday 31 July – Friday 2nd August Three days in which to Learn to Knit from scratch, or Knit socks. Learn to spin Long draw from […]

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Summer School at Knuston Hall for all who love wool – any skill level.
Two, three day summer breaks that will feel like heaven. Saturday 27-Monday 29 July and, Wednesday 31 July – Friday 2nd August
Three days in which to Learn to Knit from scratch, or Knit socks. Learn to spin Long draw from scratch, Design and spin your own sock yarn. Felt luscious seat pads.
Overnight accommodation available for an additional £83 per night which includes evening meal and breakfast. See Events for more details

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International Space station and Spinning retreat coincide at Launde Abbey https://www.spinningschool.org/2019/05/international-space-station-and-spinning-retreat-coincide-at-launde-abbey/ Thu, 30 May 2019 21:14:53 +0000 https://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6619 International Space Station and my Spinning retreat coincided at Launde Abbey last week. It was a lovely time – three days spinning and relaxing with people who love what I love. Launde is a magical place. The monastics knew a thing or two 900 years ago when they chose the location in which to build […]

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International Space Station and my Spinning retreat coincided at Launde Abbey last week. It was a lovely time – three days spinning and relaxing with people who love what I love.
Launde is a magical place. The monastics knew a thing or two 900 years ago when they chose the location in which to build a home for their community. It is a place that transcends the commonplace. Where one can do ordinary things (like spinning, eating, sleeping, praying or simply just ‘being’) but with extraordinary attention.
We didn’t know it at the time, but on Thursday night we were not the only ones paying extraordinary attention… Local astronomer, J Brown was carefully capturing time, place and space on film.
And at the same time we spinners were keeping watchful eyes on the suspicious men in white vans who were pointing their cameras at us…
John Brown gave this report the following morning;
‘I took this photo (should really be photos as it is a total of 325 photos stacked into one to get the effect) last night. It shows how the earth rotates,the bright line coming down in the middle was the International space station passing over Launde at 12:03.
This is only web size low resolution if you wanted a full image suitable for printing then let me know.’
J Brown. Launde.Launde
Maybe we spinners were more earthbound than we thought!
ISS passing over Launde by J Brown

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New to spinning https://www.spinningschool.org/2019/03/new-to-spinning/ Tue, 12 Mar 2019 12:54:23 +0000 https://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6604 Dear Pam, I thought you’d be pleased to know that I’m still spinning and creating things from my yarns. Below are some of my recently completed projects. The cardigan is made from the yarn we dyed during my last lesson, supplemented with considerably more white. The bag is made from Navajo plied yarn from the […]

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Dear Pam, I thought you’d be pleased to know that I’m still spinning and creating things from my yarns. Below are some of my recently completed projects.
The cardigan is made from the yarn we dyed during my last lesson, supplemented with considerably more white.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The bag is made from Navajo plied yarn from the rainbow dyed top we made.
The sheep body is BFL and the head and legs from black Jacob.
I’m finally getting round to spinning the magenta dyed top but I’ve still to decide what I’m going to make with it. I find it difficult to create a yarn without an idea of what I will turn it into and I probably need to start experimenting with different yarn structures a bit more.
Anyway I just wanted to thank you again for introducing me to the most wonderful relaxing hobby.
Nikki x

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A Student’s Story https://www.spinningschool.org/2019/02/a-students-story/ Fri, 22 Feb 2019 10:59:24 +0000 https://www.spinningschool.org/?p=6585 I Wanted to Learn to Spin My Own Yarn A couple of years ago, I attended a drop spindle spinning workshop at my local yarn store. In eager anticipation of learning to spin I had purchased a Jacob sheep fleece, without a clue what I was doing, so I was lucky that it turned out […]

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I Wanted to Learn to Spin My Own Yarn

A couple of years ago, I attended a drop spindle spinning workshop at my local yarn store. In eager anticipation of learning to spin I had purchased a Jacob sheep fleece, without a clue what I was doing, so I was lucky that it turned out to be a lovely fleece! Anyway, the spinning workshop was a disappointment; I basically learned to twist wool a bit. After watching a few tutorials on the internet I set about washing, carding and spinning the fleece on a tiny little drop spindle. I decided that I was going to crochet giant granny squares, using a 16mm hook and make a wool throw.

Well, spinning a full fleece on a tiny spindle was quite a task and I decided that there must be an easier way. So I started looking for a teacher who could teach me how to use a spinning wheel.

I found Pam’s web site and thought her Beginners Spinning Starter Pack sounded great, especially as you can borrow a wheel to take home and practise on. This way you can take time to see if you really love spinning before committing to having your own wheel. So I went for my first lesson. Pam is a great teacher, very patient and knows just how to teach each person. We all learn in different ways and at different paces, so this is important. I took one of Pam’s spinning wheels home with me, along with some easy to spin wool roving. Pam set me homework; to spin two bobbins worth before my next lesson! The following couple of days consisted of me keep snapping my yarn, cursing and taking a break then going back for another go. I was not a natural! Then it clicked, I loved it. I returned for my second lesson with two bobbins of spun singles which Pam taught me to ply to make my first little skein of yarn. What a feeling of achievement.

Choosing the Right Spinning Wheel for Me

I borrowed a couple of different wheels from Pam, so that I could get a feel for the right type of wheel for me. I settled on a Kiwi 2, a compact little work horse of a wheel that can cope with anything that I want to spin, from very fine to super chunky art yarn. I needed a compact wheel that would fit on our narrowboat so the Kiwi with its upright design is perfect.

My Spinning Wheel

My Kiwi Spinning Wheel

 

Pam also helped me with my drop spindle spinning, and provided me with a more substantial drop spindle, that made spinning on a spindle a lot easier. The new spindle enabled me to complete my throw, which in the end used up two and a half fleeces!

Giant Granny Square Throw – Spun on a Drop Spindle

Giant Cranny Square Crochet Blanket Using Handspun Chunky Yarn

 

Falling Further Down The Woolly Rabbit Hole

Dyeing and Mohair

Shortly after my first spinning lessons, Pam was running a dyeing workshop for a couple of ladies and one of them couldn’t make it, so Pam asked me if I would like to take her place. Well, that day I fell in love with Mohair and dyeing! The lady that I shared with is called Jackie and she has a herd of Angora goats. Jackie brought some beautiful, soft Mohair locks for us to dye. Wow, they take colour well and are still my favourite fibre to dye (and spin).

Handspun, Handdyed Mohair Skeins

Handspun, Handdyed Mohair Yarn - Skeins
 

Woolly Days at Knuston Hall

I soon started to attend Pam’s monthly “Woolly” days at Knuston Hall. Now, the group of ladies that attend Knuston each month are fantastic; knowledgeable, friendly, kind, funny, in fact just great company. I was made to feel very welcome and have learned even more woolly skills. I leaned how to “wet felt” wool and use it to make many things; buttons, bowls, book covers and felted soap.

My Woolly Adventure Has Changed My Life!

I am now using all my new found “Woolly” skills to run my own little business, making and selling handspun Mohair yarn and scarves, felted fleece rugs and felted natural soap. If you are interested in seeing what I make, please visit my web site: www.east-hill-mill.co.uk

You never know where meeting Pam and starting your own little adventure will take you, but you can be sure you will have lots of fun, learn new skills and it can even be very therapeutic. I can recommend it highly 😊

by: Viv Carter

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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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