Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Beginners Spinning Workshops in Perthshire 6th & 7th August

Saturday and Sunday
6th & 7th August in Blackford Village Hall, Moray Street, Blackford, Perthshire PH4 1QF

These three workshops are designed to follow on from each other, but are also self-contained. You can chose to take one, two or all three. If you take two workshops you save £10, if you take all three you save £20. In addition if you can bring your own spinning wheel to the third workshop, please let me know and I will give an extra discount.

On Saturday 6th August there will be two workshops:
Fibre Preparation from 10 - 1 (£40)
We will start with a whole fleece, straight from the sheep, and learn how to sort the wool into different qualities, and how to prepare it by carding and combing for two different styles of spinning.

We will discuss why wool is so good to spin, the merits of spinning 'in the grease' or of washing the wool before spinning and how best to store it.  We will also take a look at some other types of fibre that are available to spinners and how they are prepared, and at ways of blending colours or fibres before spinning.

Drop-spindle spinning from 2 - 5 on Saturday 6th August (£40)
This workshop is for people who have little or no experience of spinning using a drop spindle. It gives a good foundation both for those who want to learn to spin using a spinning wheel, and those who intend to continue to develop their skills with a spindle.

A drop-spindle is an inexpensive and very portable tool which can be used to produce a huge variety of yarns.  With a spindle, we can slow the process of spinning right down so the learner can develop a good understanding of what needs to happen during the spinning process, and how to control it to produce goood quality yarns. This is directly transferable to spinning with a spinning wheel.
We will spin carded and combed wool - if you attended the morning workshop on Fibre Preparation you can spin the fibres that you have prepared yourself - and you can experiment with mixing colours. We will combine two hand-spun yarns to produce a 2-ply yarn, and discuss why and when it is appropriate to ply yarn as well as how to 'finish' your yarn. By the end of the workshop you should have a small skein of your own handspun yarn to take home.

On Sunday there will be an all-day workshop:
Spinning Wheel spinning - the Basics 10.30 - 4.30 Sunday 7th August (£70)
 (1 hour lunch break - I will book a table at the local hotel, not included in price)
This workshop is for people who have little or no experience of spinning using a spinning wheel. If you have learned the basics of spinning using a drop-spindle it will be an advantage, but it is not essential. 
You will be able to try at least two types of spinning wheel, and we will discuss the pros and cons of other types. If you already have a spinning wheel and can bring it with you please do - it is better to learn on the type of wheel you are going to be using afterwards, if possible.

To get started we will spin singles yarns, and then we will go on to combine them to produce a 2-ply yarn, and discuss why and when it is appropriate to ply yarn as well as how to 'finish' your yarn. We will look at how to measure the thickness and twist of your yarn and how to use it. By the end of the workshop you should have a small skein of your own handspun yarn to take home.



To book a place please e-mail me at deborah.gray7@btinternet.com
I will confirm your place on receipt of payment (PayPal preferred, or cheque).

Blackford Village Hall is 2 minutes off the A9 aproximately half-way between Perth and Stirling. I will book a table for lunch in the local hotel for those who want to eat together (not included in price).

If you are interested in the workshop but can't make these dates, or if you would like to know about more advanced workshops please let me know, so that I can tell you about future workshops.

Beyond the Basics Spinning Workshop 3rd July

I've had a number of requests for a slightly more 'advanced' spinning workshop, so here it is:

Saturday 3rd July 10.30 - 4.30 in Blackford Village Hall PH4 1QF

This workshop is for people who have some experience of spinning using a spinning wheel. If you want to develop your skills, learn a new technique, try a new fibre or if you have a persistent problem that you want some help with, this is the workshop for you! What we will cover will depend on the interests and needs of the learners - I will try to phone or e-mail everyone in advance and find out what they want me to include. Limited numbers to ensure a god experience for all.

The price is £70 for 5 hours (we will have an hour's lunch break), payable in advance.

I will give you a discount of £10 if you bring your own spinning wheel - please let me know what type it is.

To book a place please e-mail me at deborah.gray7@btinternet.com
I will confirm your place on receipt of payment (PayPal preferred, or cheque).

Blackford Village Hall is 2 minutes off the A9 aproximately half-way between Perth and Stirling. I will book a table for lunch in the local hotel for those who want to eat together (not included in price).

If you are interested in the workshop but can't make the 3rd July, or if you would like to know about workshops for beginners please let me know, so that I can tell you about future workshops.

How to spin a good yarn...

That's the title of the book that I have written - and it's ready at last!! It is a practical manual for handspinners that aims to give an understanding of fibres, yarn structure and how to spin yarns that are beautiful, unique and fit for purpose.

Based on over 30 years of spinning experence, I originally wrote it in Italian to accompany the workshops that I run in Italy. I was then pursuaded to produce a version in English, and had the rather surreal experience of translating my own work back into my native language! I've taken the opportunity to expand a few of the sections, which cover:
  • Equipment
  • Fibre types and Fibre preparation
  • The basics of spinning with drop-spindle and spinning wheel
  • Plying - why and how to do it
  • Finishing yarn
  • Getting the right thickness and twist for the yarn you need for any project
  • practical tips and hints for knitting with handspun yarn
There are almost 70 full-colour photographs illustrating the text, it is A4 size, spiral bound to lie flat while you are spinning and protected with acetate covers.

The price is £12 (plus £1.50 p&p) - only available directly from me.

Payment by PayPal to deborah.gray7@btinternet.com or send a cheque to:
Deborah Gray
204 High Street
Auchterarder
Scotland
PH3 1AF

Don't forget to give your full postal address so I can post the book to you.

Birnam - been there, done that, and had fun!!

One of the aspects of running workshops that I really enjoy is meeting new people who share an interest in yarn and spinning, but its also nice to have one or two kent faces. Last weekend I ran three spinning workshops at the Birnam Institute in Perthshire. On Saturday there were two ladies that I already knew through the knitting group at Elena Costella's delicious new yarn shop in Perth, and on Sunday two with whom I had enjoyed a lino-printing workshop a while ago. On both days there were also some new people to add to my tally of spinning friends.

After introductions all round we got to grips with a lovely springy white cross-bred fleece. As we sorted the wool into different qualities we discussed choosing and storing fleeces, the pros and cons of washing before spinning, and admired the woolly 'poster boys' chosen as prime examples of 66 distinct pure breeds of sheep, each with different fleece characteristics (as well as some fairly hilarous facial expressions!!). Everyone tried carding and combing the raw wool, remarking on how much dirt is removed in the process -mostly ending up on some people's lovely new, purpose-made spinning aprons! We tried out a few other types of fibres, blending different colours of raw wool, or wool with mohair or alpaca, and also looked at commercially prepared wool and preparing silk cocoons into roving ready for spinning or blending.

By the time we had prepared a supply of wool to get us spinning in the afternoon workshop we were all more than ready for the lovely lunch that we had downstairs in the BI cafe.

Suitably re-energised, and reinforced by one additional learner, we spent the afternoon spinning with drop-spindles. Using the 'park and draft' approach to start with really helps slow the process down to let people understand what happens and learn to control the twist with one hand while controling thickness with the other.

(note the take-away coffee - spinning in the 21st century!!)

Soon everyone developed the confidence to stop 'parking' the spindle, and the first balls of handspun yarn were proudly displayed:
Once a second ball of yarn had been spun there was time to ply the two 'singles' yarns together and make a skein. Nobody tied themself to the niddy noddy, which is unusual, and by the end of the workshop thse who were not joining us on Sunday  were able to take  their skeins home to be washed and displayed with pride.

On Sunday we were joined by three more learners, and had a total of seven spinning wheels with an opportunity to try at least two types.
Two people had brought wheels that needed a bit of attention to get them working really well, I will be getting a couple of small parts for one of them but the other now just needs regular use to keep it running smoothly.
Transferring the skills learned with the drop spindle to spinning with a wheel is pretty direct - the hands do the same things, and it is a matter of learning to control the wheel and co-ordinate it with what the hands are doing. The learning curve was a bit steeper for those who had never spun with either spindle or wheel before, but everyone was able to produce very creditable yarn over the course of the day.
Concentrating hard on learning a new skill takes a lot of energy and again we were glad of a good lunch in the BI cafe. By the end of the afternoon everyone had a skein of 2-ply yarn to be proud of, and a strong sense of achievement.

I enjoyed spending two days in the company of such a nice group of people, and I'm looking forward to seeing (even if only in photos) their yarn once it has been washed. Hopefully I will spin with them all again and help them to further develop their skills.

There's always a lot of preparation before a workshop weekend, and great excitement when the day of the first workshop finally arrives. It's about 25 miles from my home to Birnam, but the road was nice and quiet on Saturday morning, so I got there in plenty of time to set up and then relax for a few minutes before the first learners arrived.

Theres such a lot of stuff to remember when I'm packing..... different kinds of wool, other types of fibre, loads of small tools and 4 spinning wheels, all to be packed into a small Fiat (I forgot to photograph the fleece!!!).