Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Spin, Park, Pinch, Draft, Repinch, Climb

Yesterday I taught my mom how to spin with a Top Whorl Drop Spindle. First of all, it's just fun when someone you love is interested in something you love. It's just a big love fest!

My mom was actually pretty easy to teach. She doesn't think of herself as a fiber artist, but for as long as I can remember, she has sewn, done needlepoint and I don't think there is a pattern she can't knit. Last year alone she knitted upwards of 20 hats for charity; a project she started in the summer and finished by Christmas.

In short, my mom knows more about fiber than she thinks she does. It's very easy to talk to her about weights of yarn and twist and that sort of thing. And spinning, like a lot of crafts, isn't really hard to understand, the challenge to to convince your hands to do what your brain commands. It's all about training those muscles to do something new and unfamiliar.

Every so often my mom would have to stop and think about what to do next. "Should I spin? Draft?" I realized that the easiest way to get her hands to accept these new motions would be to create a rhythm. A simple list of actions she could repeat to herself as she spun to help her remember and to get the muscles in her hands performing in time.

Spin ~ Park ~ Pinch ~ Draft ~ Repinch ~ Climb

Spin ~ Well this one is obvious. Spin the spindle of course. We discovered that my mom is a natural counterclockwise kind of girl.
Park ~ Hold the spindle in place by resting it between your knees or under your arm. Whatever is comfortable. It's just to keep it from back spinning while you work with the fiber.
Pinch ~ Now the hand you used to spin the spindle trades places with your drafting hand pinching the fiber to keep the twist from traveling.
Draft ~ Now your drafting or fiber hand is free to draw back on the unspun roving, creating that perfect drafting triangle.
Repinch ~ I think I may have invented a word here, but basically you are just switching your hands back to their old positions. Your drafting hand now pinches at the same place that your other hand was pinching to keep the twist from traveling.
Climb ~ Now you can slide the pinch of the drafting hand back over the fiber that you just prepared and allow the twist to climb or travel up the drafted roving.

This method of spinning is often referred to as the Inchworm Method. It's a great way to learn. My six word mantra (spin, park, pinch, draft, repinch, climb) is definitely simplifying things, but the goal is to create a cadence to which your hand muscles can learn to respond. As time passes, your hands will just naturally take over. The more you spin, the more your fingers will learn about the even feel of the draft and the natural tension and travel of the twist.

Right now my mom is on a plane flying back home to Virginia. I can just see her, with her drop spindle, and her lips mouthing the words; spin, park, pinch, draft, repinch, climb.

Related Post: How to Spin With a Top-Whorl Drop Spindle