Last weekend I taught a beginning spinning class at Wabi Sabi and decided to vary my normal routine a bit. Usually I give all my students a few ounces of combed Corriedale or BFL top to use the duration of the class, usually with a little left over to take home for practice. Back in 2008, I decided to use medium wool combed top because it was the most common type of spinning fiber available in most yarn shops. Two years later, however, I’m seeing more roving (true roving, not “roving” used to refer to any spinning fiber regardless of fiber orientation/arrangement) in the stores, as well as batts. Sites like Etsy have also really taken off in the past couple of years, providing spinners with even more options beyond basic wool top.
So last weekend, I gave each student two ounces of BFL top and 2 ounces of Coopworth roving. I taught them first with the BFL and once they had the basics of spinning and plying down, I gave them the Coopworth to play with. It went over really well and several said they preferred the roving to the top. Two girls who were about 12 or 13 years old were taking the class (on their own, without parental influence or encouragement, which I thought was fantastic) and one asked if she could draft from both fiber types at the same time. I was thrilled to see that kind of spontaneous creativity and she created a beautiful marled yarn. I think I’m going to start trying to encourage my students to be more creative, because while it is important to learn the basics correctly and avoid bad habits that could lead to frustration, I see a lot of spinners who are afraid to experiment and discover what works best for them. I’m not an art yarn spinner by any stretch but I love seeing what that kind of openness and desire to be creative leads to.
To those of you who teach–what do you do to encourage your students to be creative?