Monday, October 13, 2008

Spinning in public for the first time

Well, I've done plenty of knitting in public -- when I first began knitting many years back, I used to take my projects onto the subway with me while commuting, and now I rarely go out without a knitting project, just in case I have some spare time. Now I've spun in public, too.

On October 4, I participated in the Art on the Avenue festival in Alexandria. I hadn't even heard of Art on the Avenue until I responded to a post on Ravelry looking for volunteers for a fiber arts demonstration. So I packed up my spinning wheel and a bag full of fiber, and headed out on Saturday morning. What fun! It was a gloriously beautiful fall day, sunny and warm without being hot. The demonstration included spinning on wheels and spindles, fiber carding, knitting, and weaving. In the beginning, I had some fairly quiet spinning time, just answering questions as I spun. But then I started letting the kids try the wheel, and we both had a really fun time. They were fascinated, and loved working the treadles (although some of them couldn’t reach them without help). And many of them were so excited when I offered to let them take home the yarn they’d help me spin – it was really sweet! It was tricky at first figuring out how to actually produce yarn with them, but eventually I got the knack of letting them treadle while I drafted the fiber.

Two hours flew past, and then we were finished. At the end, though, I found out that some of the other participants were members of a spinning group that meets twice a month – they invited me to join them, and I’m looking forward to spinning with them in calmer circumstances! And not only that, I got invited to another spinning demo the following weekend.

So this past Saturday, it was off to the Torpedo Factory Art Center for the annual Art Safari. This time I was prepared for the kids, and brought a basket of really soft blue faced Leicester fiber for them to spin with, and some pretty red and yellow wool. I also brought some drop spindles, to see if that would make it easier to work with them. Once we got going, there was barely a moment to catch my breath! We had spinning, and knitting, and carding, and weaving, just like the weekend before. This time, though, someone brought a drum carder to let the kids make up their own special, sparkly batts to spin. In the beginning, I focused on using spindles – I’d draft the wool while the kids kept the spindle spinning for me. Then for a while, we used the wheel – this group loved sitting and treadling as much as last week’s kids. It was especially fun when they had their own little handfuls of fiber to spin into a special yarn to take home.

I’ve only got one regret after these wonderful weekends – I forgot to bring a camera, so I haven’t got any photos! I guess I’ll have to learn to tuck a camera into my traveling spinner’s kit in the future.

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