I’ve had a lovely weekend! Last autumn I decided to start teaching in our home. I can take as few pupils at a time I want, and I can concentrate on them. So this weekend the first group since the 90s was here in our kitchen with their wheels and other equipment, and I let them use most of mine. We had so fun! I want to do this again! My idea with these small workshops is, that I have time for everyone at least to some extent, can give personal tuition, but within the limits of the theme I’ve chosen. This time we concentrated on fiber prep and learning the the longdraw, but also took a first step to fibre knowledge.
As you spinners know, learning the long draw is a piece of cake compared to fibre knowledge!
Mervi, Petra, Sanski, and Stina at work.
Mervi and Petra with the blending boards and the wool.
Stina’s husband had finally fixed her spinning wheel, and now her spinning is rapidly improving. She has a Toika wheel, a famous Finnish brand that many of us own or want to own. Mervi, Sanski and I also have Toikas, so there were four Toika wheels in our house during the weekend. I used my blue Saxony (unknown maker) this time, and kept my Toika and Louet Victoria as spare wheels for anyone to use. Stina is a retired bookbinder who’s been active in my guild for a long time. She’s a person who laughs happily most of the time, with sudden outbursts of frustration when the wheels won’t work as she’d like them to do. On/Off, and it’s a joy to listen to. In the summers Stina’s worked in the printing house at Stundars, where our guild has its headquarter. She’s also been teaching bookbinding.
Sanski is a professional spinner and she teaches spinning. She has a few Mohair (Angora) goats, so I made her do a little bit of work: she gave us a first introduction to Mohair and left me some samples I’ll use in workshops in the future. Here’s her site: Rukki ja rautapata. I’ve always loved that name, “The wheel and the iron kettle”, isn’t that a wonderful name for a business in spinning and natural dyeing? also a dyer who uses natural dyes. I’d so much like to learn that skill, but I’ve had to give it up: I simply don’t have time for it. But what we have in common is our skills and knowledge in how to spin dog hair, chiengora. I did that for many years as part of my livelihood, and it’s a part of Sanski’s livelihood. I so wished we could’ve spent more time talking!
And there was Petra, who is a sheep farmer. Her spinning skills has improved so much in a very short time. She’s a person who take things seriously, but with a wild and wonderful humour. Her systematic way of learning is a joy to follow. And her Finnsheep wool is a joy to use. The whole weekend we’ve been laughing at her: each time she found a piece of VM, however small, in her wool, she made a big row of it. I promise: the wool I buy from her is the cleanest I’ve ever seen, except for the poor fibers that have gone through the chemical baths. Can I fully express how grateful I am for a wool producer who takes her work as serious as Petra does? I see nightmares when I think of all the hours she must be spending with picking out every little leaf of grass or seed or double cut from her fleeces, and carefully skirting them. She knows how to teach people to ride a horse. She may even get me on a horse back, I THINK. I’m not quite sure, I’m afraid of horses and I can’t read them, I’m sure they’ll kick me or step on my toes. Yes.
Mervi is a textile and DIY teacher with knowledge in most techniques. Now she’s rapidly learning new spinning skills, and I’m sure that despite her denial she’ll be teaching spinning very soon. I was so happy to gift her all the empty coffee bags I’ve been saving for years in the vain hope that someday I’ll have time to make something from them. Mervi teaches those skills, and now she has a heap of bags to present her pupils.
So four teachers coming together and then me, teaching teachers. A bit scary, I must admit. But I loved it! My pupils where so kind, and they had no problems in making themselves busy with combing, carding, using the blending boards, spinning, and – talking. They talked a lot. And when I wanted to say something, they listened. Almost all the time. Wow. I say – wow.
Kasper and DH went upstairs to my room and stayed there. I love them. That’s DH’s back bending over some of his texts that he needed.