Have you ever spun for an audience? If not, it is something that I think everyone should try at least once. The stories you reap will last a lifetime! I have spun for demonstrations at schools and living history museums as well as for fiber festivals and fairs.
Spinning for living history is great because the audience is usually non-spinners and often children. Children are immediately mesmerized by the motion of the wheel, and the treadle. They ask wonderfully inquisitive questions such as “Doesn’t that hurt the bunny?”. In the meantime I am long drafting alpaca fiber that has just been flick carded, but they were certain that I had a bunny by the scruff. They also think that the drive band is somehow the yarn that you are spinning being further stretched or smoothed.
Children are also very anxious to try spinning. It is amazing to me how many children have been agile enough to sit down at the wheel and spin within just a few minutes. I do a demonstration at the local elementary school each year for the 4th grade class. When there are extremely interested kids that ask to try to spin, I can’t resist letting them give it a try. Out of the 4 or 5 students that sit down at the wheel each year, usually 2 of them will immediately begin to not only spin, but they create some pretty nice singles!
To spin at a fiber event is an enlightening experience. Being self taught, I don’t look like other spinners, I tend to look more like a fly fisherman or a somewhat mad conductor. This inevitably leads to the all knowing spinner coming to my rescue! Before you know it, someone will come along whose duty it is to “fix” my spinning flaws. They will even go so far as to tap me on the shoulder and ask me to give up my seat at the wheel to demonstrate their own method. What am I to do? Well, I do value the chance to learn, so I allow them to teach me the correct way to spin. I do learn little tips here and there that I have been able to use. One lady held her flick card under her thigh so that she could just flick the fiber without having to pick up the flick card. I thought this was one of the most time saving methods ever, and I still use it to this day!