Q&A with Spinning Instructor Abby Franquemont
Many of us in the fiber community already appreciate Abby Franquemont’s skill with spindle, wheel, and other tools. In fact, she's teaching an upcoming webinar on preparing fiber. What we may not know: she’s also highly talented at one-liners. Read on for a behind-the-scenes interview–it’s more fun to let Abby speak for herself. –Deb
I am the product of a nature vs. nurture experiment intended to learn what it takes to create a human textile mill.
Where are you from originally, and where do you currently live?
I was raised by anthropologists (who were better-educated than wolves), and raised at least partly in a barn (which explains a lot). I live in Lebanon, Ohio, with my husband, our son, and enough textile stuff to smother several elephants.
What do you do besides spinning? (What’s your day job?)
My day job IS spinning! I’m a full-time textile educator, specializing in teaching spinning in hands-on environments.
How and when did you start spinning?
My first memory is actually of crawling inside the enormous 1700s barn loom my father was weaving on at the time, and watching the sunlight filter down through the warp as sheds opened and closed. But I didn’t become a spinner until we moved to Peru for my parents to do their textile research. In the weaving town where we settled, all the kids could already spin, and I was behind the curve as a 5-year-old. The whole town pretty much took me in hand to make sure I was up to speed with all the other kids.
Do you prefer to work from patterns, or draft your own?
It’s possible I’ve never completed a pattern without making modifications! I love the idea of working from a pre-existing pattern, but yet, even if I start with one, I seem to end up changing something about it, whether it’s a knitting pattern, crochet pattern, sewing pattern, or heck, probably even a recipe for cooking.
I’ll try anything twice. Seriously, because the first time could just be a fluke. You have to try it at least twice. Every year, I make sure I try my hand at least one totally new thing, and one thing I don’t think I’ll enjoy. There’s pretty much no textile process I don’t enjoy to some degree, but non-textile pursuits I’ve enjoyed a lot lately include brewing beer and TIG welding. I also collect, restore, and play pinball machines, and enjoy sitting on the front porch playing guitar.
Tell us about your studio… what kind of space inspires you?
In my dreams, I have a small, perfectly organized studio where everything is always in its place. In reality, though, I have an office and a studio, and both have a variety of workstations for different activities, usually set up and ready to go at the drop of a hat. This summer, though, I’m redesigning it all — centered around function.
What’s your spinning secret weapon?
It’s a sneaky, stealthy technique: sampling. Sampling makes it possible to figure out all kinds of things before you’ve made a huge commitment to a project.
How do you stay motivated on long projects?
What has been your favorite project recently?
How has blogging and owning a business influenced your process?
I’m fortunate to live near an incredible radio station (WNKU) that plays an incredibly broad range of music and has a real commitment to live music. It’s even better than my absurdly large music collection on shuffle, because I discover new things I didn’t know about.