The Search for A Spinning Mentor

Where do you go to learn about spinning? We can read about spinning all day, but a spinning mentor can move your work forward like nothing else. Having someone explain a technique while showing you how they do it leads to “Ah-ha!” moments. The clouds part, the sun shines, and suddenly your mind and body are on board with longdraw!

Spinning Mentor: spinning longdraw

Techniques like joining new singles and spinning longdraw are much easier to learn when you can look over a mentor’s shoulder. Photo: Kate Larson.

Mentors and workshop opportunities abound, but how do you find them? In the last episode of Roving Reporter I talked about workshops hosted by fiber arts guilds, which is a great way to learn locally. However, I meet many people who don’t have a guild in their area, or the local group isn’t a good fit, or they have specific interests beyond what their guild is interested in learning. If you are looking to expand your spinning horizons with new workshops, here are a few places to investigate:

Elizabeth Johnston, an instructor

Elizabeth Johnston, an instructor from Shetland, talks with a student in Indiana about her handspun, handknitted swatch. Photo: Kate Larson.

Videos

There are many fabulous videos available that are designed to be a complete lesson, from beginning to end. Short technique videos on YouTube and blogs are great for researching something specific, but an hour of a planned and edited workshop with Norman Kennedy, Judith MacKenzie, or Margaret Stove is a different experience.

Special Events and Festivals

Fiber arts festivals and events are scattered all over the world, and sites such as Knitter’s Review have lists of fiber gatherings large and small. Maryland Sheep and Wool and other festivals often pair workshops, vendors, and livestock with a fairgrounds ambiance. Events such as Interweave Yarn Fest bring workshops and vendors together in a conference setting with coffee and clean bathrooms nearby. Incredible instructors such as Maggie Casey can be found at both event types. Check out Maggie’s upcoming workhops at Yarn Fest !

Regional Conferences

Handspinners are often unaware of the number spinning workshops offered at regional, long-running fiber-arts conferences. From CNCH in California to MAFA in Pennsylvania, these biannual gatherings are held all over the country, often on odd-numbered years. Midwest Weavers Conference will be held in my Indiana backyard this June, and I am looking forward to teaching alongside Amy Tyler, Eileen Hallman, Heather Winslow, and Pat Maley. And I can’t wait to learn more about charkha spinning in Eileen’s class—see you there?

—Kate


Take a class from your spinning mentors!

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