I always finish my longer courses with a wool tasting – an opportunity to try samples of five unknown sheep breeds, prepare and spin them. But it is also a lot more than that.
This past week I have been at Sätergläntan craft education center, teaching my five-day course A spindle a day. Every day for four days the students get to learn about a new spindle type – suspended spindle, floor spindle, in-hand spindle and supported spindle.
You can have a peek at last year’s course here.
This is the sixth time I teach at Sätergläntan, and the fourth time I teach this particular class. Sätergläntan craft education centre is a beautiful spot in County Dalarna in Sweden, with both year-long courses and five-day summer courses. Any day of the year Sätergläntan is sparkling with craft, crafting and crafters. The opportunity to talk about crafting at any of the meals during the week is truly unique, and very dear to me.
My students have had their share of joy, frustration, revelations and insights, all from their skill level and way of learning. My challenge as a teacher is to do my best to meet every student at their level and learning process. It is also a great inspiration.
Explore and learn
Although we focus on one particular spindle type each day, the knowledge the students get from one spindle type is of good use to them for the spindle types to come. They learn about the Twist Model and how they use it with all the spindle types, as well as how to work with the fiber we happen to have at hand for different purposes. Through the whole course the students also prepare their fiber. I encourage them to play and explore to be able to make informed decisions as they go.
For the course I brought all the spindles for the students. That means 10 of each of the four spindle types I taught in the class. Suspended spindles and in-hand spindles for the students to borrow and floor spindles and supported spindles from Björn Peck for purchase. And there were purchases. My suitcase was a lot lighter on the train back home.
The wool tasting takes place on the fifth day. By then the students usually feel safe in the group, they know their strengths and challenges and they have built a bank of experiences. They have made mistakes and learned from them. The lessons are worked into their muscle memories.
Wool tasting is an exercise I came up with when I started teaching summer courses at Sätergläntan. In the wool tasting the students get to try a sample of one unknown fleece for fifteen minutes, for a total of five different fleece samples. During these fifteen minutes the students’ task is to prepare (some of) the wool, spin it and take some notes on a wool tasting table I provide them with. They fill in their first impression of the wool, how they want to prepare and spin it, and what the result was. On the edge of the wool tasting table are holes so that they can attach a yarn sample. Everything is done in silence. As they explore the wool, take notes, prepare and spin it I sit and watch, secretly fizzing of pride of my students and the decisions they make.
In the wool tasting the students get the opportunity to put all they have learned to the test. When I teach I want them to be able to go home after the course has finished and continue on their own, exploring and making choices based on the tools and the experience they have. And they really do. The table they fill in is just for them, I have nothing to do with it. But the questions I ask them in the table guide them into noting different things about the wool before they start, as they work, and how their little yarn sample turns out when the fifteen minutes are up.
The time limit isn’t there to stress them, it’s rather to force them to make intuitive decisions and not overthink their choices. As they are finished they don’t only have have a table with yarn samples, they have made their own diplomas of the just finished five-day course.
A spinning meditation
After the wool tasting we have a chat about their experiences of it. One final thing is left: The spinning meditation. This is when we spin together in silence. I guide them into noticing aspects of their spinning like the wool, the fiber, the spindle and the motions. Toward the end I invite them to close their eyes as they spin. This is another opportunity for them to realize how, through the week, they have gotten to know their wool with all their senses, trusting that it will guide them if they allow their hands to listen.
After a few train delays I finally got back home to my family. I will keep this week at Sätergläntan in my heart and hope to come back next summer. Thank you spinning students and other crafters for a wonderful week!
You can find me in several social media:
- This blog is my main channel. This is where I write posts about spinning, but also where I explain a bit more about videos I release. Sometimes I make videos that are on the blog only. Subscribe or make an rss feed to be sure not to miss any posts.
- My youtube channel is where I release a lot of my videos. Subscribe to be sure not to miss anything!
- I have a facebook page where I link to all my blog posts, you are welcome to follow me there.
- I run an online spinning school, welcome to join a course! You can also check out my course page for courses in Sweden.
- On Patreon you can get early access to new videos and other Patreon only benefits. The contributions from my patreon only benefits. The contributions from my patrons is an important way to cover the costs, time and energy I put into the videos and blog posts I create. Shooting and editing a 3 minute video takes about 5 hours. Writing a blog post around 3. You can read more about my Patreon page here.
- Follow me on Instagram. I announce new blog posts, share images from behind the scenes and post lots of woolliness.
- Read the book Knit (spin) Sweden! by Sara Wolf. I am a co-author and write in the fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.
- In all the social media I offer, you are more than welcome to contact me. Interacting with you helps me make better content. My private Facebook page, however, will remain private.
- I support Centro de textiles tradicionales del Cusco, a group of talented textile artists in Cusco, Peru who dedicate their work to the empowerment of weavers through the revitalization and sustainable practice of Peruvian ancestral textiles in the Cusco region. Please consider supporting their work by donating to their causes.