Change is good

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?

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2 Responses to Change is good

  1. WonderMike says:

    I’m enjoying looking through your blog and learning all sorts of things about spinning for competitions. :-)

    I teach Intro & Intermediate Drop Spindle Spinning and I have to say that I don’t normally “encourage” creativity in class. I don’t frown on it, but I want the students to get the basics before they start freestyling.

    I do, however, think that I always learn something important from my students, usually in the form of improving my presentation or handouts.

    I do love the story of your younger students experimentation. It sounds like a wonderful intermediate or advanced workshop topic!

    Thanks again for the inspiration.

  2. Leslie says:

    I’m with you, Mike, I want my students to have a firm grasp of the basics. I just hate seeing some people get stifled further down the line by too many “rules”.

    I love getting feedback from students on how to improve–it’s amazing what you get when you just ask how you can make it better!

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