A few years ago, at KnitCity Vancouver, I took a class with Diana Twiss to learn to spin with a suspended spindle. Her learn-to-spin class completely opened my eyes to everything I needed to start spindle spinning: choosing a good beginner’s spindle, different drafting methods, plying with spindles, and even choosing a good plying spindle. I left the class with a beautiful, suspended spindle I still enjoy and use and a solid foundation from which to extend my spindling exploration.
Learning from Diana
Diana is an excellent technical teacher, and her enthusiasm is contagious and inspiring. I am so happy I can refer to her SOS class when I come back to suspended spindling. If you have ever been curious about learning to spin, her Spinning with Suspended Spindles course in the School of SweetGeorgia is fantastic to get you started.
Not long after the class, I checked Diana’s website, 100 Mile Wear, and greatly enjoyed reading her exploration of growing and harvesting flax. As the guest teacher at my local Weavers & Spinners Guild for a weekend, she shared with us this marvellous fibre prep process of flax from seed to textiles, as well as many of the colour exercises shared with us in her Colour & Fibre Play course.
In the Colour & Fibre Play course, Diana, with her characteristic curiosity and enthusiasm, delves into how to use different fibre prep tools: hand carders, hackles, blending boards, and drum carders. She does so by immersing us in unique rainbows and starry nights in colour. Diana’s playful approach to fibre prep is just wonderful to follow, and it is impossible not to fall in love with her colourful blends. Inspired by the exercises in the course, I blended fibres for the first time using borrowed hackles and blending boards. After playing with these tools, I invested in my own blending board, as I recognized its potential as a spinning fibre prep tool to have at hand.
Using your personalized batts
Going through Diana’s class and following the exercises, you may produce a 30-60 g / 1-2 oz batt to spin and ply. What can be done with this small amount of yarn? As Diana has shared before, “a mitt is a swatch“; a pair of fingerless mittens are a useful item that can provide the maker with a lot of information. Was the fibre blended as you wanted it? Are the mittens shedding all the time? Would that fabric, once prepped, spun, and knit, be better suited for a cowl? Learning from the mitt swatch allows us to make even better spinning decisions next time we play.
With this experience of knitting and wearing the mitts, how do we translate our learnings from the swatch into a larger project? In her Colour & Fibre Play II course, Diana takes on this challenge. She shares techniques on how to scale up your fibre prep to a sweater quantity (or more!), maintaining enough consistency for a larger project while still ensuring a product that looks unique. Diana also covers fibre prep, spinning, and plying techniques to illustrate the variety of yarns you can get from the same blend. You’ll learn excellent strategies to keep repeatable fibre prep kits organized and ready to go to keep the momentum on bigger projects. Through “sketching, doodling, and sampling,” she guides you through creating a personalized blend that will make your heart sing.
More from Diana
Diana is a wonderful and generous instructor. After listening to her love affair with supported spindles, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask her to share her supported spindles collection, as well as show the way she chooses spindles based on her experiences. If you are curious about how supported spindling would fit into your life and how to choose one, Diana’s put together a brand new tutorial for the School of SweetGeorgia: How to Choose a Support Spindle.
Get ready for more wonderful tutorials in the upcoming October Spinning Summit to give some love to your wheel and spindles and to spin some yarn!
Besides Diana’s spinning and fibre courses at the school, you can follow Diana’s Instagram feed! Get ready to be inspired and learn numerous tips that might aid you on your fibre journey.