Yet again we managed to entice Amanda Hannaford up to Exeter and she decided to talk to the Guild about “Spindle Spinning with a Passion” … well, it was Valentine’s Day!
Amanda showed us wonderful images of spindles throughout the ages and used many of her own spindles to illustrate the three main types; support, hand-held and suspended or drop spindles. Amanda also explained how the size, weight and design of a spindle affect the speed and duration of spin and, therefore, the type of fibre it is most suited for.
The entertaining (and educational!) talk resulted in resounding applause and was followed by us getting up-close-and-personal with the spindles Amanda had brought along from her own collection. It was fascinating to see the variety of materials used and the amazing workmanship that goes into the making of the spindles and bowls … some are fairly utilitarian but others are works of art:
Amanda then ran an informal workshop where a number of us tried (with varying levels of success!) to spin cotton. A few seemed to get the knack pretty quickly and were soon spinning acceptable singles. As for me … well, I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that, after breaking my single more times than I care to remember, I eventually threw in the towel and cast loving looks in the direction of my Lendrum! A few photos of the mini-workshop can be seen on the ‘Gallery – Events’ page of this website (they do not include me or my gritted teeth!).
Amanda returned the next day to hold a workshop on English Longdraw. Sheilagh Robson was one of the lucky attendees and was kind enough to provide the following report:
Nine eager students gathered to learn English woollen longdraw spinning from Amanda Hannaford. We were a mixed bunch of spinners, some with many years of experience, others quite new to the craft.
Amanda began the day with an inspection of our fleece for suitability and an introduction into how different preparation, and different spinning methods, affected the finish of various wool samples. We were then shown how to produce that perfect rolag to make the longdraw an easier technique to master. There was much hilarity over the quality and quantity of rolags produced – thin ones, fat ones, fluffy ones and smooth, but by the end of the morning everyone was able to fashion very presentable rolags with which to proceed to the afternoon of spinning.
After a demonstration by Amanda of ‘how to do it’, we all embarked on trying to emulate the beautiful yarn she produced so effortlessly. Although the air was not quite blue, many of us had some frustrating attempts to get the chewing gum feeling that signalled success! Amanda was a kind and patient teacher, she gave everyone the individual attention they required, and by the end of the afternoon we were all making good progress with our longdraw spinning. I for one will need to do an awful lot more practice before it looks effortless, but it will be fun trying and it will be great to have another method of producing yarn for specific uses. The learning experience amongst a group of friendly faces made for a really enjoyable day.
Our thanks to Amanda (and, of course, Ginge - the ultimate enabler) … and a hint that she should probably start thinking of another subject and/or workshop for next year!