3 – What fiber skills and tools do you need?

What fiber skills do you need?

Basic spinning skills are essential, but you need not be a master spinner, or even more than a beginning one.

If you can reliably spin singles and make a two-ply yarn (from a center-pull ball, or from a couple of bobbins, or by Andean plying or any other technique you choose), you are ready for this retreat. (Lumps are okay!)

Once we get launched on the first day, I am happy to offer individual help to get the less experienced members of the group settled in. Several previous participants have been quite new spinners. They felt out of their depth for a short while, but once we all got fibers in our hands they began to fit right in, and by day two were old hands. None of us knows everything about spinning, so we all have a learning edge to cultivate.

When I started spinning, I had to use fibers straight from the sheep because today’s array of prepared fibers didn’t exist yet. I think the earlier you discover the materials at this level, the better! Many of our fibers will be from fleeces I’ve selected and washed for you. If the teaching goals will be enhanced by the use of prepared fibers, those will be added in. When I get ready for an Explore 4, I feel like I’m preparing a four-day fiber banquet.

In order to get the full benefit of our time together, you’ll want to be at least a confident beginner in some method of making fabric out of yarn—knitting, crochet, weaving, or whatever pleases you. This isn’t essential, but most people who spin come from another fiber craft, and you can learn a lot from making small swatches from your yarns. More advanced fiber artists and artisans will find lots of ways to bring their additional interests into play.

What equipment will you need?

Spinning wheel or spindle, and whatever simple kit of accessories you like to use.

Any fiber preparation tools you would like to bring will be fine, and I will bring some tools for you to try. I believe in low-tech options (I have a range of dog-grooming tools that travel well), while for processing significant quantities of fiber the specialized equipment makes life a lot easier. The items you use need to fit your style, goals, and budget. We can talk about that, too, during our time together.

You will also want to bring something with which you can make fabric, to try out the yarns you will be making: knitting needles, crochet hooks, a small portable loom (a Weave-It or Weavette or similar).

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