Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Change of tack

I had a post, picture rich, a-brewing. Then a few things happened, and my thoughts have gone off in another direction entirely, so this is not the post I originally intended to write.

I mention from time to time the class that I lead regularly once a month. Now, this is a lovely class, that has been running for many years, and has some people coming who have been attending for most if not all of those. I am, I think, the third tutor, and have been such, amazingly, for ten years.

It really doesn't seem that long!

So, there's the first point - those who have been coming for a long time, talented fibre people all, have one kind of need.

Most of the ten years, the class has been well attended, but the recent upsurge of interest in crafts, fibre or otherwise, has meant that we have had more new spinners coming along. Very often, they can only come for one, or the occasional session because of work or family committments; sometimes, they have become regulars. There are then two more sets of needs to factor in - learning, sometimes attempting to get across the basics of spinning in just one day, and more satisfactorily helping some of them progress.

So, there is a class on Friday. I have spent quite a lot of time today preparing for it, as we are dyeing - painting skeins, warps and fibre with acid dyes. I have rounded up equipment, and made up seven stock solutions. It is going to be a busy day.

Then I get the class list from the college. On it, there are no less than six names that I do not recognise - I have to make the assumption that they are all beginner spinners and prepare and plan accordingly.

Then come the messages about even more people wanting to come to Friday's class - I have lost count at this point, but I think that we are now up to 21.

Now, make no mistake at all, this is all good. Seeing and interacting with so many people who, like me, love fibre crafts is a great and wonderful thing, and I feel very privileged to be in the position that I am. But can you also see the complexity and challenge of all those different needs that need to be reconciled? I like to have a focus for each class quite apart from teaching beginners and improvers - the challenge is selecting what that should be, something that might with luck interest and engage most of the class members no matter what their level (all except the absolute newbies, of course.)

I attempt to have as wide a spread as possible, concentrating on spinning, as that is supposed to be what the class is all about. We are lucky enough to have a sheep farmer on board, and she will bring in a lovely fresh fleece from time to time, and we can go from there right through to working with the spun yarn. We have looked at every fibre that I have ever come across; and reguarly try dyeing, both natural and otherwise, plus some knitting, felting, braiding, baby steps weaving - nothing grander than an inkle loom. I shamelessly prowl the internet, and raid SOAR and Summer School for ideas.

Coming up with new ones gets harder and harder, or at the very least, new slants on old topics......


Oh, I can keep on covering, revising, the spinning lore that needs to be there; but I would love a few inspirational ideas about new perspectives, new trends, well, anything at all really. (Yes, I have tried Art Yarn!) I should say, I do drag out spindle spinning (well, I would, wouldn't I?) on a regular baasis, but have so far failed fairly miserably to enthuse anyone to the extent that I am enthused!

I would welcome any (sensible, ok?) input!

We are off to the Northumberland coast for a week on Saturday. I haven't been for many more years than I care to contemplate, and I am really, really looking forward to it. Sea, and the possiblity of puffins - who could ask for more? Well, Craster kippers, maybe......

More when we get back.


Freyalyn said...

I thought you said you and Pete were planning a day at Wonderwool to investigate this year? Obviously the attractions of Northumberland are greater - I can see where you are with this one.

See you soon - and have a good time. Spot a puffin for me!

wsxwhx700 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Barbara Blundell said...

Ten years ? Never !
We are the privileged to have so much knowledge and expertise on tap. There is always something new to learn even for veteran spinners .
The 'dyeing day' was a great success for everyone !
Many thanks.
A class member