Workshoping with WoolWench and JazzTurtle

Workshoping with WoolWench and JazzTurtle

Its over, our glorious days of exciting projects, shared teaching, and some group hilarity. We started on the Friday evening, with a meal together followed by some really cool drum carding and fiber prep for the following day. This first group was the beginning art yarn spinners, and although some were already experienced spinners, the ‘art’ techniques we had in store were new to them. It was quite a treat to see the wheels all in a row and waiting for their spinners to get started. What I enjoyed the most about this group was the enthusiasm they showed for every technique, and their complete willingness to dive in and give everything a go, even if they were not sure about the outcome, thats the kind of creative risk taking I love the most! Our second group were the advanced art yarn spinners, so we covered some more difficult techniques such as spinning on elastic and on wire, specifically with the intention of weaving with them, because our final day was a fantastic weaving day, finishing on the Tuesday afternoon. It was exciting to see eyes light up on the discovery of new possibilities in weaving, and the idea that weaving could actually be cool and exciting and innovative and not complicated or difficult! This is not a post with an hour by hour description of what we did during our workshop days, but rather an impression of the things that I personally found important in them. Of course, the topmost important things were the ¬†people and connections made. In each group there was a wonderful dynamic and level of excitement about what we were doing. I love it when people make discoveries, have an ‘aha’ moment as a bunch of stuff falls into place in their heads and their hands as they spin something new. We had a few of those! I also think that part of teaching is offering experiences to people in a safe environment, where they can grow their expertise and confidence in what they are doing, so I hope we were able to provide this, I certainly saw some amazing yarns being made, and one in particular stands out, as Cara experimented with a new technique, and holding out the length of yarn she had made we could see a vast improvement from the start of it to the end of it! Thats a success ūüôā It was also a fantastic experience to be part of a teaching team, especially with the fabulous Esther Rodgers, I had the best time both during and after classes, and it was a wonderful chance to get to know each other and share stories and hilarity and ideas....

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How they do it in Holland

How they do it in Holland

Here in the Netherlands, rather than having a ‘guild’ as such, we have a National Spinning Group organisation, (Landelijke Spingroep). They send out regular newsletters, keep registrations and a list of all the local spinning groups, and organise an annual spinners weekend party. They also arrange demonstrations and keep a presence of spinners at many events around the country, and generally work to coordinate activities for us and share information. ¬†Yesterday was the AGM. I had to get up pretty early to drive to Arnhem but it was worth it! Of course, when you get THIS many spinners together in one room, you also have to do more than talk, so the first part of the day involved rows and rows of people with wheels whirring, pausing only to hold up red or green cards at appropriate times as we worked through the agenda. As I reflect on this experience I can honestly say this was probably the most productive meeting I have ever attended! Something else that was quite interesting to me, as a New Zealander living inside the Dutch culture, was the experience of the famous Dutch directness at its best. People are not afraid to stand up and say what they think in quite a direct manner. Sometimes this may seem a little… inappropriate to someone from another culture, depending on the situation and relationships, but in this meeting, even though there was very little disagreement on any of the points, it became clear to me that, by the end of the meeting, it was easy to be confident in decisions and votes, because you just ‘know’ that if anyone had something to add they would have done that, leaving no resentments or hidden agendas. At least, this is my interpretation! Now comes the really fun part, after the official meeting ended, and lunch was consumed, all the stand holders opened for business, and the demonstrations began! Esther and I were there to demonstrate art yarn spinning and I had also been asked to bring my hackle to demonstrate. Apparently the video I made some time back had caught the eye of the organisers and they thought it would be interesting for members to see, and I was very happy to note the interest in what I was doing with it! I took some bright rovings in pinks and oranges, and angelina of course, and started blending and dizzing the roving. People were really surprised at how easy it is to do! I hope it inspired others to try it as well. Most were impressed with how quick it was to create a beautiful lofty roving that really looked good enough to eat! If you are...

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Sheepies in Holland

Sheepies in Holland

Sheep Events in the Netherlands! The Netherlands (AKA Holland) is probably much better known for its cheese, tulips, and clogs than for its sheep and fibre products. For this New Zealander, the fields look quite empty, with much of the grassland being used to grow hay. Fences are missing as paddocks are split up with networks of small drainage canals, crossed with little bridges with what look to be stand alone gates to nowhere scattered around the landscape. However, if you take a drive out in the countryside you will certainly still see animals, black and white Friesian diary cows (of course for the cheese!) graze alongside the many wild white swans, and there are always sheep. Not in the numbers I am used to seeing in New Zealand, but pockets of happily grazing sheep at regular intervals where ever there is farmland. And what kind of sheep are these? I did some sleuthing, and found that there are actually a number of very well established, distinctly Dutch sheep breeds. One of the most well known would have to be the Texel Sheep, or Texelaar in dutch (pronounced Tess-el-aar) originating from the island of Texel in the north of Holland.¬† Another very popular Dutch origin breed is the really pretty Zwartbles – which literally translates to ‘black stripe’, and so describes the standard appearance of this black sheep with its distinct white blaze (bles). These sheep are¬† quite sweet and have a gentle nature, they are often found in the many childrens farms throughout the Netherlands. I found some of these sheep at the Stadsboederij De Vos Heuvel (City farm, The Fox Hill) in Amersfoort. This is, of course, not big time farming with flocks of fleece and meat producing sheep, but it does have sheep, and they do need shearing. So each year there is a day planned to make an occasion of this, to celebrate the shear and educate the public about the sheep and the process of shearing them. On this occasion, there was a ‘Wolfestival’ (Wool Festival) planned around the event, so the farm was filled with stalls, people selling their handmade woollen items, yarns, roving, knitted and woven garments, spinning equipment, and also demonstrating their crafts. When I arrived at the festival I discovered that the shearer was just finishing the job of shearing a Zwartbles, and it was almost asleep! The sheep on these mini-farms are very accustomed to being handled, and the Zwartbles is known for its easy going nature, apparently this one was very relaxed during its shearing! I was used to seeing freshly shorn sheep scrambling to their feet and scampering down the shute to join their mates in the...

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