Navajo-plying with Sarah Anderson

A note from Amy: I first met Sarah Anderson virtually through a submission to Spin-Off magazine where she introduced me to her wrap-and-roll spinning technique; she spun a lively, buoyant yarn using a spindle and a spinning wheel simultaneously. You can see Sarah's videos of this technique here and here. Soon the article was published in the Spring 2008 issue of Spin-Off, and Sarah was scheduled to teach at SOAR (Spin-Off Autumn Retreat) 2008. I had a chance to peek into her workshop and retreat sessions during SOAR and was totally envious of the students who got to take the class-immersed in Sarah's enthusiastic and encouraging teaching style, complete with larger-than-life teaching aids. After the great success of her workshop at SOAR 2008, we asked her to teach again at SOAR 2009. At participants' request, Sarah's modified the class she is teaching-so we wanted to let you know about the new and improved workshop that she is offering at SOAR 2009 at Sunriver Resort, Oregon, October 26-28, 2009. In addition, I invited Sarah to tell you a bit about the inspiration behind the class and to give an introduction to her way of doing Navajo-plying.


Workshop: All You Can Eat Yarn Design Buffet with Sarah Anderson

Break out of your spinning rut while expanding your yarn menu with a smorgasbord of possibilities! We'll cover just enough technical stuff like twist angle and balance to make sure we're all on the same page, and then we'll jump into hands-on learning. Learn how to make fat singles, slubs, and different types of plying, such as cables, crepes, bouclé, and core yarns. We'll try out some novelty techniques and discuss what effect different fibers have on your yarn. Discussion will include spinning yarn for a purpose and spinning just for fun. This workshop wi

ll give you more tools to whip up the yarn you envision and expand your collection of yarn recipes. Prepare to be stuffed!

Skill Level: Comfortable spinning a continuous yarn, plying, and ready to cook up something special.

Materials fee: $25

A note from Sarah Anderson: I love to spin, and for many years, I spun without understanding (or even trying to understand) technical things such as ratios and twist angle. My wheel stayed on one or two settings, and I was satisfied. When I read spinning books I would inevitably skip over the technical parts because my eyes would start to glaze over and my brain would say, "Not today-I just want to spin."

Spinning and making good yarn for me was intuitive, but I've come to realize that the technical things really don't have to be hard or boring. I could see that without the technical vocabulary, I was having a hard time teaching others how to do what I was doing. As a teacher, I needed to dig in to the technical aspects of spinning and learn how to explain how to do things that came intuitively to me-it was very good for me. Sometimes a yarn just wouldn't turn out as I expected, and I was often too impatient to sample. Now that I have a better understanding of what the fiber should do in a given situation, I am having much better results the first time around on new yarns. If I'm having trouble with a certain type of yarn turning out right, I will often spin on a handspindle. This slows down the process and allows for better evaluation of what I'm doing and what I should be doing to get the yarn I envision.

To give you a taste of what we're going to cover in class, I've made a rough video to show you how I Navajo ply. The variation on the Navajo-plying or Chain-plying technique that I have developed is different than many others because all three plies are completely under control and under equal tension when the twist enters them. This results in a very consistently plied yarn. With the right fiber and a consistent single, you have to look pretty hard to find the loops in yarn plied this way. It is also very relaxing and has a rhythm. All of the work is done directly in front of the spinner and there is no stress on arms or shoulders. I'm hoping that the video will help a lot of spinners to learn to enjoy Navajo-plying as much as I do.

This All You Can Eat Yarn Design Buffet workshop will have just enough of the technical to open some doors, along with a whole bunch of hands-on spinning to satisfy the most tactile learner's appetite. We'll dish up variations in plying, along with successful fat singles and juicy slubs. We'll get into novelty, and I'll do my best to answer your questions. Come and join the fun!

—Sarah Anderson



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