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Spinning Demonstration on the Great Wheel.

First of all, sorry for the blog silence yesterday – I was away from the computer most of the day, and during the time I did spend physically close to it, we had internet connection issues. These do happen here occasionally, and they are normally no big deal when they do, as they will be over after two or three hours at most… but yesterday, it did mean no access during the time window I had for blogging.

Today is a holiday in Germany, so I had planned to blog yesterday and tell you there’d be no blog post today. Well, plans and how they work out… anyway, this means you are getting this picture today instead of yesterday:


That was my setup on the Long Night for spinning in Dinkelsbühl. It was a wonderful evening with many, many people stopping by for watching the spinning and asking questions. The picture was taken during one of the rare and short moments when there were no visitors there, right at the end of my presentation.

Time really flew by, and the evening was over before I knew it! I loved all of it, and it gave me the opportunity to demonstrate how much of a difference the fibre and the fibre preparation made when spinning on the Great Wheel. I had rolags made from Eider wool (industrially combed, smooth medium-staple wool that I just rolled together with the cards), from Bergschaf wool (industrially carded, crimpier wool with a shorter staple that I rolled together with the cards similarly to the Eider stuff) and from Rouge de Roussillon wool that I carded up from the washed fleece myself. The differences were astounding, with the smoothest, most even thread coming out of the Eider wool and the clumpiest, least even one out of the Rouge. That was partly due to my bad sorting and carding of the Rouge fleece I brought with me, though, and I am sure that with a bit more getting used to that specific fibre, the thread would also have improved a lot.

Demonstrations like these always yield some thread, but they rarely result in wheel spinning output that I’d find acceptable or even good quality. Talking to people to explain the spinning takes away some concentration from the spinning itself, and while I can happily chat along when making my standard yarn on the spindle and distaff, the wheel does take more concentration for me to get a good thread. Another factor is the quality of the rolags that I work with during those demos.

Even though I explain to people during these demonstrations that textile work takes time, and patience is oh so important, I usually skimp on the preparation of the rolags to speed things up a bit. I also make a rolag or two, then spin them up, then explain something else, then make rolags again – and that results in differences each time, which also has an impact. Finally, the combination of explaining and trying to show off the spinning speeds possible with the wheel means I’m not making the best possible thread out of the fibre I have, and switching frequently between spindle and wheel plus carding and combing means it is hard to find the rhythm and workflow for any of these tasks – because obviously, explaining and demonstrating the individual steps and how they work together is much, much more important on these events than making the best yarn possible.

So in case you are at a crafts demonstration one day and have somebody demo-ing with a lot of explanation, you might get to see slightly sloppier work than they normally do, because the priorities have shifted – from working towards the best result possible with the tools and materials available to giving the best explanation and demonstration for you. And that, I’d say, is one of the best reasons that somebody can have for not working up to the usual standards!

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