Spinning with grace

 

“is this the way? is this how you hold it, Aunt Pat? Do I pinch like this?” I was sweating.  In my mind, teaching my 5 year old niece, Grace, to spin had been such a lyrical task.  I would show her the wool, the colors, and the textures, and I would explain how the wool came to be sheared, and dyed and carded.  And together we would learn the parts of the spinning wheel, and I would show her how the flyer spun the wool and wound it onto the bobbin.

It wasn’t going that way at all- she was miles ahead of me and treadling the wheel at warp speed.  I was trying to catch up with her thought processes, still wondering in some small corner of my mind, why she wasn’t enamored into stillness by the colors and the textures of the wool.  Determined to recover, I entreated her to treadle more slowly, giving the wool a chance to spin before it was consumed by the flyer orifice and bobbin.  She slowed a bit.

Taking this small window of opportunity- this itty bitty breather- I asked her to stop.  I peeled a narrow rope of wool from the roving.  Handing one end to her, we drafted from both ends, like a spaghetti noodle between two.  At that point, we pulled it apart in the middle.  With her focused on drafting, i was able to demonstrate how much stronger the wool was when it is twisted, rather than the fibers laying side by side.  This made the critical impression.  She showed everyone else in the house, even her next door friend, what ‘strong wool’ we were making.

Teaching can be challenging. But so often what you teach isn’t the craft itself, but the qualities associated with it- patience, diligence, craftsmanship, and appreciation for other’s work. Grace will never look at machine made yarn in the same way.  And I found that the only way to teach effectively was to abandon my lofty ideas of how it was going to go, and roll up my sleeves, catch up and get to the objective of the whole thing- making strong wool.

tomorrow we are dying with Kool-Aid, and carding…

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Monica
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 17:53:32

    That is it, that is teaching. It doesn’t come every moment or every day, and most of the time when it is not going to plan, when it is not the lesson pictured in your mind, not the rehearsed, it often is not a lesson planned state standard based on research moment.

    But rather when they see it differently than you, and together you struggle to reach consensus, It is not you teaching them, or them learning from you, but both together seeing something else. You saw what she could not see, you showed her the purpose, but most importantly you shared a love in your life, a part that makes life interesting to you, with her. you are right she will never forget.

    I try and remember these moments on the days when it does not seem like I can teach anything.

    Reply

  2. Monica
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 17:54:48

    I miss you, and these writings make me feel close to you!

    Reply

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