Class List, Fall 2011

I’ve updated my class list for Fall 2011 and beyond (to get to the most current class list for all eternity, click on “Contact” and choose “Class List”). There are a few new offerings so I thought I’d tell you about them, and where they come from.

First, the new or revised half-day classes (3 full hours of class time).

Many spinners enjoy using their spindles to produce singles, but find themselves turning to their wheels when they want to ply. Learn techniques and tricks to make plying easier, faster and more portable with your spindles, and how to achieve several plying structures (as well as why you would want to). A basic low whorl spindle and fiber will be supplied, but students are encouraged to bring spindles they love and spindles they hate. Not suited for absolute beginners; you must be reasonably comfortable with spinning singles.

WHY: Because there’s never enough time on this in half-day or whole-day spindle classes. I always wish there were more time. And not everybody taking a general spindle class wants to learn about plying yet. Usually, we get to this part of the class, and there are 3 or 4 students who really want to learn to ply with their spindles… and everyone else kinda skeptical. But for those who do learn functional spindle plying methods, it’s a huge change for them in their spinning. So it deserves its own class.

What’s wool, what’s silk, what’s cotton, and why does it matter? What’s a protein fiber? How about a bast fiber? Is alpaca really hard to spin? Or was that cotton? What fibers are advanced and what’s good for a beginner? What fibers are environmentally friendly? What’s a natural fiber and what’s a synthetic? Where do these things come from? What are they good for? Get an overview of the properties of a various types of fibers, how to work with them – and hands-on instruction in working with each one.

WHY: Well, this is your garden-variety “try lots of fibers” class. It’s a great fit for festivals and for shops, and a fun class for any spinner who’s interested in branching out a bit. It’s a shortcut to being knowledgeable about lots of kinds of fibers, without a lot of trial and error.

What’s the difference between top and roving? What the heck is sliver? Is cotton sliver different from silk sliver? Are there regional differences or debates about what things are called? What’s a rolag? What’s a puni? What does it mean if roving is pin-drafted? How can I tell if something was drum carded? What’s a batt and how should I spin it? What’s the difference between carded and combed? Do I have to do something to this fiber so I can spin it? Are there some fibers you can only prepare one way? Does it matter if it’s machine prep or prep by hand? How can I tell if this fiber is good? Do I need to have hand cards and combs? In this class, you’ll spin multiple kinds of roving, sliver, top, batts, rolags, punis, locks, and more, and you’ll learn why preparation matters to both your process and your product.

The partner class to Fiber Basics; these two are aimed at giving an advanced beginner what he or she needs to branch out into lots of kinds of fiber.

What’s a cabled yarn, and why would I use one? We’ll spin and ply 4 different cabled yarns and answer questions you didn’t even know you had about this versatile and powerful structure. Not for the brand-new spinner; must be comfortable with spinning and basic plying.

WHY: Because a piece of feedback I get regularly in the 3-day intensives is “I wish there had been more time on cabled yarn.” So here’s a half-day class on just cabled yarn.

Many spinners, even seasoned spinners, hate doing joins. Some will do anything to avoid them, and that itself can create problems you don’t realize are there. Not a class goes by but what I hear people asking for help with joins, so here’s a whole class about them. Woolen joins, worsted joins, joins when plying, joins from the fold, joins with wool, silk, cotton, synthetics, joins at the wheel, joins at the spindle, slow joins, fast joins, strong joins, weak joins, troubleshooting your joins, joins joins joins. So much amazing joining action you’ll be left saying “I’m not even sure that’s a real word anymore… join? It just looks funny, I’ve been thinking about it so much.” And you’ll know why that matters.

WHY: Because I’m mean and want to walk around a class full of students, breaking their yarn over and over again to see how long it takes till someone gets mad. Just seeing if you’re paying attention.

These are the ones that can be either; there’s more covered in the full-day version.

Do you have a project for which you’d love to spin, but you don’t even know where to start? How do you figure it out? Then once you think you know where to start, how do you make sure you actually hit the mark? How do you get it all done and stay on track? How much fiber do you need? How can you be sure you’ll end up with enough yarn? What if you don’t? If you’re looking for answers to these questions, or just that kick in the right direction to take on a planned project, this is the class for you.

WHY: To teach a basic framework for starting to spin for projects, in a day or less. Meaty class, fast-paced, not for the faint of heart, this one is pulled out of the material covered in a three-day spinning for a purpose intensive.

Are you stuck in a comfort zone you can’t escape? No matter what you do, do you just keep ending up spinning the same yarn over and over again? Is it you, or the equipment, or the fiber that makes that happen? What else is out there? Is it overload when you even try to think about what to try next? Are you stuck with stash you don’t dare spin because you’re afraid you’ll ruin it because you’ll just do what you’ve always done? Did you hit a wall working towards a specific goal? Do you just want someone to make you try something new, that you never would have thought of, that you can’t make yourself try, that might push you to a new level you didn’t expect? Well, bring it to this class, and we’ll take that on in an exciting and diverse hands-on seminar.

WHY: I’ve been proposing this half-jokingly to students in my classes… but it turns out I’m not kidding! This topic comes up over and over again, and it really is past time for a class dealing with the subject.


These are 3 hours in the morning, a break for lunch, and 3 hours in the afternoon.

And a few other arguably juvenile party games – except with spinning. Do you have a secret spinning shame, and you want to admit it and find a way past that? Or maybe a pet peeve that nobody understands, and you want to work through it? Are you afraid to try spinning something totally unlike your personality? What spinning thing wouldn’t you even try unless someone double-dog-dared you? I have a few ideas up my sleeve. This class grew out of informal things that happen before and after classes at retreats and festivals, combined with in-class exercises that people find themselves coming back to for years to come. For years, people have said “I wish there were a full-day class in doing this variety of stuff,” and so now, there is.

WHY: Because, dude. Because. If you have to ask…

You can’t spin much yarn on a spindle; wheels are faster. You can’t spin fine on a bobbin-led wheel. You can’t spin thick with a spindle. You can’t use handspun yarn for warp, especially not if it’s singles. You have to spin the opposite direction to crochet instead of knit. Chain-plied yarns are inherently weaker than standard 3-ply yarns. You can’t blend short and long staple fibers. Have you heard any of these? Do you have others? Well, I tell you what: let’s put these to the test.

Same thing. If you have to ask… then you probably also don’t want to know that with these two classes, if ordered in advance, you’ll be able to get a wiseass t-shirt. You know, something like “I played party games with Abby and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”

So that’s it for the new classes, I think. It’s only a fraction of what’s on my class list, and I haven’t even touched on any of the 3-day intensives (though I don’t think there are any new ones this year).

I do have a lot of requests for “technique classes,” and I’m currently evaluating what most people seem to think that means… including what *I* think it means, because in some ways I’m not a big believer in rigid technique. And sometimes I feel like single-technique classes aren’t enough bang for the buck. But I may not be the best judge of that. So if you have a specific technique you’d like to see me do a class in, now’s your chance to tell me what it is. Between mid-December and mid-January, I expect to be doing a little more development in my holiday down time, so expect a few more new classes added to the lineup sometime around February.

13 thoughts on “Class List, Fall 2011

  1. As far as the joins class goes… When it’s me breaking my own yarn due to clumsy, somewhere in between 5 and 10 is around where I start wanting to throw the spindle and I instead put it DOWN. Or possibly leave it where it dropped on the floor.

  2. Plying! I loved the all-day class at Rhinebeck, and a plying class would be the logical next step.

  3. I want them all! Definitely every single one of the half day classes, and if I could fit them in, all the others. why do I think I won’t be doing any shopping at all at the fiber festivals you’ll be teaching at?

  4. Mardi, Beer Draw isn’t there because I’m secretly hoping I can actually talk someone into doing it… sponsored by the beer truck, and located next to it. Or in a bar.

    Well, I guess the secret is out now.

  5. Hrmmm, Rachel, shopping at fiber festivals is important to me. I actually have a half-baked proposal involving a “shopping at festivals” class…

    But seriously, that’s a serious concern for festival organizers… and vendors… and teachers. In a perfect world, everyone works together on this to some extent, and everybody (especially attendees) wins. I like to know ahead of time who’s vending, for instance, and talk to vendors I know about what they’ll be selling and what I’m teaching. Then I can do things like use a fiber that’s going to be in stock so when students ask me if they can get more of it at the festival, I can say “Yup, here are a few people who have it.” And vendors can do things like say “Okay, if you’re teaching a class on spinning handpainted silk top, I want to stock up on that.” And organizers have to make sure they allow some downtime so that people who are taking classes also have time to shop. And, you know, so instructors can.

    I always tell myself I’m going to make sure I leave a window of no-class-scheduled so I can go shopping… and yet, I almost never do. Which is sad. So I have to pick my students’ brains and find out where the good stuff is, so I can make tactical strikes while I’m on a lunch break or what have you.

  6. Sooooo, if we can get you to come teach at Fiber Revival in Newburyport, MA, next August, I bet we can talk Ms. Julia F-C into assigning you a spot right next to the beer truck. You game?

  7. I’m totally game. In fact, I could think of no better location for that class. Kelly almost had me there this year, you realize. She can be persuasive.

  8. Okay, I want to take them all too. Would you consider coming to Hungary? Yanno, on your way to the Middle East. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll be able to connect with some of these on my return to Canada….oh, in three years.

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