Sarah Jane Humke

The life of a traveling, reading, writing, spining and knitting shepherdess.

A few weeks ago I went to the care facility in Allison, Iowa to do a spinning demonstration.  My mom usually goes to this particular care center and gives little talks about the places she has gone to and brings pictures and stuff like that, so I had been here before and kind-of knew the drill already.  Usually it’s between 10 and 15 people who show up and it usually lasts around 30 minutes or so.  So when asked if I would do a demo with my wheel, I figured it would be about that many people and last about that long.

You know what they say about assuming things don’t you??

I had closer to 30 people show up for my demonstration.  I wished desperately that I had done a little more prep for it so I would have known how long spinning wheels had been around and how fast the fastest hand spinner is.  But all in all, I think it went quite well.  As is normal, the guys that attended (and I had more than one!) were most interested in the mechanics of the wheel and the physics behind how wool is turned into yarn.  They asked a lot of really quite good questions about why my wheel doesn’t look like the wheels that they have seen in the past and about where it came from and who made it and how old it was.  The ladies of the group were generally more interested in the fibers that I could spin as I had taken a bunch of samples of different spinning fibers to pass around. The most fascinating one for the group at large was the puff of recycled pop bottles that I passed around.  One of the ladies had brought some lovely colorwork sweaters that an aunt of hers from Norway had knit which were absolutely beautiful and over 50 years old at this point!  Anyway, by the end of it, I had spoken for nearly an hour and I stayed after a little bit to answer some more detailed questions, so I was there for at least an hour and a half by the end of it just talking about spinning and sheep.

One of the people who works at the center was kind enough to take some pictures of me.  Remember, I’m giving a talk and spinning at the same time (I don’t usually talk and spin that much as I’m normally alone when I’m doing it) so there was definitely no posing for these pictures!

I spun a single first to give them an idea of what that looked like at the beginning of the talk.  Towards the end I plied the single that I had spun with  one I had spun previously so that they could get an idea of what plying looks like as well.  When I was done, I left the sample of yarn there so that the residents could have a chance to look at it more closely when they had time.

This was the first spinning demonstration that I had given to a non-spinning audience and I think it went pretty well.  I had a lot of fun and I kind of impressed myself a few times with just how much I knew about my wheel and it’s construction.  I hope to do more of these in the future to wider audiences around this area.  There are a great many historical sites and societies around so perhaps I need to learn how to spin in a corset?  That could be interesting… Ye Olde Spinning Sarah!

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