class schedule


  • 9:00-9:15 — Welcome / Meditation
  • 9:15-10:00 — Discussion / Sharing
  • 10:00-11:00 — Instruction
  • 11:00-11:20 — Break
  • 11:20-12:45 — Work Time
  • 12:45-1:00 — Review / Set an Intention / For Next Time

Session 1: Saturday, October 6 / Saturday, February 2

  • “Today, more than ever, the crafts have the mission to reconnect the human being to the Earth and its substances, bring healing to the senses, and foster the creative capacities of the human being.”  — Renate Hiller
  • “When we look at our galaxy from outer space it is a spiral. And we find spirals in many many places — in the plant world — on the back of our head we have a spiral.  So, this (spinning) is an activity that brings us closer to the cosmos, you could say.  But at the same time we create something that is useful and beautiful because with the yarn that we have spun we can create sweaters, hats, and mittens and scarves and so on.  To have the skill of knitting, to have the skill of crocheting, of felting, makes it possible for us not only to make something but it makes us skilled in general.  The use of the hands is vital for the human being, for having flexibility, dexterity.  In a way the entire human being is in the hands.” — Renate Hiller
  • meditative practice: adapted from Lynda Barry’s Radio Drawing Lessons
  • fiber terms: fleece, staple length, fine vs. course, lock structure, crimp, color, luster, texture / hand, tip / cut end, VM (vegetative matter), micron count
  • somewhere along the line I mentioned a BBC program called Tales from the Green Valley, which you can find on YouTube
  • spinning technique: “park and draft”
  • yarn: fiber that has been drafted, twisted together, and held under tension
  • spinning terms: single, worsted vs. woolen spun, drafting, supported vs. suspended (drop) spindle, whorl, shaft, hook, S-twist, Z-twist, plying, fiber preparation
  • scouring: Prepare locks by gently separating locks at the tip.  Place locks into a mesh lingerie bag.  Into a basin of hot (180-212F) water, gently stir bio-degradable scouring agent (if desired), and add  bag of prepared fleece. Push to bottom of basin with a spoon.  Allow to soak 12-20 minutes; do not allow water to cool.  Remove fleece, allowing bags to drain. Immediately submerge into a basin of hot rinse water.  Allow to soak 12-20 minutes.  Remove fleece, allowing bag to drain.  Press out additional water by rolling fleece in an old towel.  Spread locks out on a well-ventilated surface to dry.  Make sure fleece is completely dry before you work with it! Allow dirty fleece water to cool and use sustainably — water your house plants, garden, or compost heap. Do NOT pour your dirty fleece water down the drain!
  • spindling tutorials: A YouTube search will reveal many possibilities, each with slightly different technique.  Abby Franquemont, author of “Respect the Spindle” is a great teacher, but her video quality is a bit grainy, so here’s another one I recommend, from Kitty Mine Crafts.
  • prepare for our second session
    • watch: Renate Hiller “On Handwork
    • listen: “Can Knitting Improve Your Health?” segment on the Handwork episode of To the Best of Our Knowledge (actually the whole episode is interesting
    • bring all of your scoured fiber and the spinning you have done
    • a smock, apron, or towel for your lap will be helpful

Session 2: Saturday, November 3 / 

  • meditative practice: winding a center-pull ball on your thumb or with a nostepinne
  • fiber preparations: batts / rolags / ghost batts / roving
  • woolen and worsted spun yarn
    • preparations for woolen-spun yarn produce a disorganized arrangement of fibers, leading to a lofty yarn that is warm for its weight, as it traps body heat within the yarn structure
      • methods of woolen fiber-prep are preferred for short staple fibers / breeds
    • preparations for worsted-spun yarn maintain the alignment of fibers, leading to a smooth yarn with luster and shine, which is often heavy for its weight, due to the density of fibers in the yarn structure
      • worsted-spun yarn is preferred for long staple fibers / breeds
      • the term “worsted” can be confusing because it also refers to a weight of yarn — consult the Craft Yarn Council’s chart of yarn weights for more information
  • fiber preparation tools
    • hand cards (carders)
    • blending board
    • hackle and diz
    • combs
    • drum carder (Hope will give us a demo in our next session)
    • wraps-per-inch (WPI) tool
  • spinning & plying
    • in general, wool is spun into singles with a “Z twist” (clockwise direction) and plied with an “S twist” (counter-clockwise direction)
    • though singles can be used in knitting, crochet and weaving, a yarn is stronger and more balanced  if it is plied in the opposite direction of spinning
    • the more singles that are plied together, the “rounder” the appearance of the yarn
    • more twist in the ply results in a “springier” yarn
    • singles can be “fulled” or slightly felted in order to give them  strength
  • plying tips
    • many spinners prefer a heavier spindle for plying
    • allow plied yarn to rest for 24 hours before removing it from your spindle; wind yarn using a niddy noddy or use your forearm as a makeshift niddy noddy
    • always tie a skein of yarn securely  in AT LEAST three places before soaking
    • soak yarn in a warm water bath with a conditioning agent (if desired) for about 20 minutes to set the twist
    • hang skein to dry — you can weight the skein slightly if it is very energized or kinky
    • a wraps-per-inch tool can help you measure the weight of your yarn and evaluate the angle of the twist
  • prepare for our third session:
    • read “A Preamble about the Crafts” formulate questions and / or comments for discussion
    • bring all of your scoured fiber and the singles / plied yarn you have spun
    • if desired, bring singles wound into center-pull balls for trying out a spinning wheel–this is a great way to try a wheel

Session 3: Saturday, December 1

Session 4: Saturday, January 12 (19/snow)

  • dye pots
  • swatching
  • project design

Celebration  / February 23rd Spin In

a podcast about the fiber arts and other post apocalyptic skills