Spinning in public

It’s spring! The museum where my guild keeps its headquarter is open for groups of school children in May. There are artisans in many of the cottages on the grounds. Most of us are retired from our day work. While working we usually can’t spend a day at the museum.

Two of the men, Kari and Johannes, planning for rope making, while Nisse is keeping them company before starting his own task with wood turning.

The lovely corner in the big farmhouse where I have the privilege to sit by the fire.

For obvious reasons I don’t take photos of the children that visit us. They take loads of photos of me! I don’t take photos of the grown up refugees that visit us either. You never know what harm or even disaster an innocent photo can cause. Some of the women from the Middle East know how to spin, or they have seen mothers and grandmothers spin. Sometimes they want to try my spindles. I’m so happy when that happens!

My small square spindle from Michael Williams resting on a pair of big hand carders:

I usually bring different kinds of spindles to the museum. Spindles are unknown to most of the visitors, except to those I mentioned earlier. The children are thrilled to see the type of spindle the Sleeping Beauty hurt herself upon. I show them one of my Russian spindles with a sharp point. I’ve heard that some translations nowadays say that she hurt herself on a spinning wheel! It makes me sad – so much knowledge is being lost, sometimes just because people don’t take the time to find out how things really are. I usually also ask the children if they can see any sharp points on my wheel. They can’t.

Then there are those kinds of teachers who want to tell the children what I’m doing… when they’ve finished, I tell my own version of what I’m doing… without actually saying the teacher’s knowledge isn’t perhaps quite accurate 🙂

But most of the experience is nice, and I really enjoy myself during the four days. It’s only three hours a day, and after that we are rewarded with a simple lunch where I can meet the other artisans and have a chat. It’s even more fun nowadays when my husband has joined the guild. He and another artisan are making rope with the children, or he helps the children bang out their extra energy with hammers in the small wood working shed:

There are other activities for the children also. They can felt, make whistles from rowan or willow, or help with wood turning, depending on what artisans there are during their visit.

But this is too difficult for them: bobbin lace. There are usually at least one lace maker in the farm house with me. This is Ulrike’s “Stundars lace”, a simple design she can make while talking to the visitors.

I usually spin long draw on the Saxony wheel. It’s easy, it’s showy, it makes people stand still for a couple of minutes (how often do you see that in our restless times?) This is the bobbin I filled last Tuesday and Wednesday:

The weather is slowly warming, and right now I can see one tractor in the fields. Maybe summer will come this year also!

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4 comments

  1. Katherine M

    Lovely post–it’s so good to pass these crafts on to children. As for Sleeping Beauty I always learned that she pricked herself on the point of the spindle of a great wheel or a saxony style wheel with a spindle, not a bobbin.

  2. Katherine M

    A letter in the current issue of Spin-Off suggests that Sleeping Beauty may have pricked her finger on a sharp bit of chaff in the flax she was spinning–hadn’t heard that idea before!

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