Spinning workshop – Days 2 and 3

Monday was rather a whirlwind of learning. Workshops are strange because in a lot of ways they’re easier than school (less responsibility in the studio because you’ll only be there for a week, etc) but they’re also a lot more difficult because you’re trying to learn a new technique (or perhaps multiple techniques) in just a week’s time! It’s exhausting. It’s a lot easier to stretch the whole thing out over a semester.

Anyway, it’s been a lot of fun despite the amount of work. So Monday we washed out a raw fleece right off the sheep, dyed the clean wool and began spinning.
My first effort was…well it’s technically yarn, but it’s so overtwisted in some areas that it’s probably not actually usable. haha. By the time we’d finished dyeing everything and cleaning the dye kitchen, I was so worn out that I could hardly focus on the motions my hands were supposed to be doing.

Tuesday was strange. Just as Jeanne said, I walked in and could spin…? What?! How did that happen? I’m not really overtwisting much and my yarn is much thinner and more even. (I still need practice, but I’ve got the hand motions down) We fluffed up the dyed fleece (which is beautiful and you’ll get to see it at the end of the week) and learned how to use hand cards and a drum carder. I, surprisingly, like the hand cards. I spun up a lovely (although still totally uneven and slubby) skein of many colors. 🙂 I still have to wash and stretch it to get the kinks out but I’m quite happy with it. I’m thoroughly enjoying the stage of spinning slubby yarn. I know eventually I’ll wish I could do it more easily so I’m quite pleased with everything I’m making right now.

Mom and I also finished picking out my fleece from my sheep and washed it yesterday. By the time we were done washing it, it was 4:30 so we didn’t have time to dye it but at least it’s clean and I can dye it later this week. 🙂 It’s very different from the fleece we have from the Shepherd’s Path (local farm that supplied the wool for the class). I have no idea what type of sheep they have though. That’s the one thing that has been slightly frustrating about the class: Jeanne and Claudia don’t really know much about sheep breeds and don’t really care to learn more. Even before I wanted sheep I was interested in what breeds produced what wool. More than just “Merino sheep have nice soft wool with less scales than other breeds.” But that’s how I am. I guess not everyone cares about that. They both said they prefer to spin from roving and normally don’t mess with buying a whole fleece and washing and dyeing it. So why would it even matter what type of wool it is? Well…I guess the local food movement that I’m now a part of (since I live on an organic farm) has influenced me in other aspects of my life because that’s not good enough for me. I want to know the animal that my wool came from. Weird? Maybe. But I don’t think that’s wrong. It’s just different. And if it’s important to me I think that’s okay.

Anyway, I have no idea what my wool will be like to spin since Suffolks are primarily meat sheep but I figure my sheep are growing wool every year and it has to get sheared so I may as well try to use it. In the hand out we were given at the beginning of the class there was a chart with info on different breeds and their wool quality. Suffolks were listed as, “lightweight, airy fleece, easy to spin.” So that was encouraging.

Perhaps in the future I’ll investigate getting my wool sent off to be processed. It’s so nice. You send it off and it comes back in rolled up balls of roving. 🙂 Well anyway, I need to go get ready for class. Hopefully it’ll be another good day in the studio. I think we’re supposed to be learning to ply today!
~JoAnna

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