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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Some of What We Did In The Class

OK, first of all, if you ever have a chance to take this class (or any class) from Judith MacKenzie McCuin, do it immediately. Don't think, just sign up. She is a wonderful teacher, extremely knowledgeable about all kinds of things spinning, weaving, fibery, sheepy and just really knows practically everything you'd ever want to know about anything (I think, I didn't ask her about physics, but you get the idea - the lady knows her stuff.) Also, she is totally approachable, and not at all intimidating. If you can't take her class, you should get her book (I'm not getting a kickback for this, FYI), it's also great. I took the class and got the book. I understand there's a DVD out there, but I don't have that yet. Yet, being the operative word - oh, the ability to play and replay to my heart's content!

We learned Worsted Spinning (inchworm), semi worsted spinning, woolen spinning (long draw, semi woolen spinning, and an attenuated long draw for cotton. She taught us some color techniques (marling) and some multi colored cables. She taught us some novelty yarns: spiral, knots, boucle, and mohair wrapped. She filled our brains with things we had never thought about and then kept going. She showed us how to select a fleece, how to wash it for combing, versus washing it for carding. She showed us combing and carding. She spoke about the history of spinning, the history of sheep. She taught us exotic fibers like bombyx silk, silk caps, yak, cashmere, camel, and one of the most frightening fibers to many spinner's out there - cotton.

About 30 minutes into the first class, my mind was reeling from all the information it had already absorbed- and this was a 3 day class! I took pages of notes, and we spun many tiny skeins. I'm in the middle of reorganizing the notes now so that when I look at them next week, I'll be able to understand what I wrote (or meant to write).

Here is some of the spinning we did:

From the top: A marled 2 ply of merino top, a marled cable yarn of the same merino top, a 3 ply of Merino/Yak, spun semi woolen, a 2 ply of Yak down (a loose puff of fiber) spun woolen, a white cotton 2 ply spun with attenuated long draw, a brown Fox Fiber cotton 2 ply spun with attenuated long draw, a dyed puni from Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks spun as a 2 ply with attenuated long draw (the puni was definitely the easiest preparation to spin cotton), and a semi woolen cashmere 2 ply spun from top. According to Judith, if you can spin cotton you can spin cashmere (...if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball...)
Another thing she showed us is plying. Most of us take plying for granted and don't put too much thought into it. She showed us how to hold our hands, control the tension of the singles, and how to make the plying consistent. Then she had us wind our bobbins with some singles she had had spun from her organic Ramboulliet fleeces and try some plying ourselves. From the top of the picture above: 2 ply, 3 ply, 4 ply, 5 ply!, and cabled yarns.

I'll show more tomorrow!



Blogger Connie Peterson said...

Oh, wow! All I can say is "OH, WOW!!!"

Can't wait to see what you do with the stuff and information!!

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness! That's an amazing amount of information your got at the spinning class! I'm blown away just reading your synopsis. Sounds like a wonderful experience.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Abby Franquemont said...

If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball, indeed. We say that often in our household.

I could not agree more about plying; in many respects it's a whole 'nother skill. It is also one that I *do* take entirely for granted, because when I was a kid, I wasn't that great a spinner so I tended to earn my keep (or fiber or yarn or being taught a new pattern) by plying. The net result of that was, well, I got pretty good at plying. Plying also presents great opportunities to refine all sorts of yarn management skills, which are a whole 'nother set of things we tend to never think about...

I very much look forward to one of these days taking a class from Judith; everyone I know who knows her says I'd love it, my father spoke highly of her, and I keep hearing people saying "Judith said this..." and I want to know more about the context or what she meant. ;-) I'd love to hear even more about your class!

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Kristin K said...

That's awesome that you learned so much! (Love the Dodgeball reference --- maybe one of the more useful mantras out there, when one is feeling frustrated ...)

1:45 PM  

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