Spinning through the seasons
Summer can bring us free time to spin on the front porch or join friends for an afternoon in the shade, sipping lemonade in between full bobbins. The long days of light may find us leaving home with our wheels firmly belted in the backseat to visit relatives (and a fiber shop or two along the way). We may tuck a drop spindle with a handful of cotton into a backpack while hiking or biking to the beach. Summer also offers us a chance to show off special talents in contests and competitions. We can test our skills as solo acts in handspun categories at state and county fairs or band together in sheep-to-shawl (fiber-to-fabric, llama-to-loom, and bunny-to-bonnet) events. For many of us, summer may mean squeezing spinning into the odd moments each day after prime time is devoted to scheduled activities-a job, garden work, farm chores, running errands, or child care. What kind of spinning do you do at this time of year?
My summer daydreams seem to revolve around how much yarn I can produce while trying to be of help at the state fair, pioneer days, or a spin-in. After years of experience rubbing my tummy while patting my head, spinning in the company of others should be easy. However, more often than not, my wheel becomes idle while I listen to my neighbor or watch the faces of those wondering what I am doing. My hands might be busy untangling (or tangling) singles, or winding skeins from balls (or rewinding skeins into balls), while I answer questions, but the reality is I seldom get any yarn spun on any of these occasions, though I enjoy being there. Whatever spinning is accomplished looks very much like cotton candy, kind of sticky and compressed. In your newsletters, you have referred to the automatic, routine spinning completed at such events as "dumbed down," "no-brainer," and, most recently, "road spinning." My yarn often looks like it was laid on the road and run over by a truck! If this phenomenon is familiar to you, do you have any suggestions for redeeming it?
Your newsletters often give reports and suggestions on how to make public spinning demonstrations more meaningful to nonspinners, especially children. Marlys Collier of the Pinellas Weavers Guild (Florida) uses a low-whorl, supported spindle when she wants to do a hands-on spinning demonstration. She sees this as a good alternative to having children try spinning on her wheel. She sets up a low table within easy reach of a child and has the child turn the bottom of the spindle (in one direction) while she drafts the yarn vertically. When the singles is about 20 inches long, the child is told to pinch it in the middle and not let go as she brings the ends together. As the ply reaches the child's fingers, she slips the remaining loop onto her own, then ties an overhand knot in the end of the yarn. By slipping the knot through the loop, she forms an adjustable bracelet the child can take as a memento. Nancy Page of the Medina Spinning and Weaving Guild (Ohio) gets excited about summer shows and demonstrations. She finds them to be "wonderful places to share ideas and get to know people from other guilds, maybe learn a new method or craft."
Do you know of ways to make your summer hours productive while passing on your knowledge of spinning? Please connect by sharing them with us here. This is your space to let us know what is happening in your corner of the world! You may send your guild's newsletter to email@example.com.