Sprialing, or a spiral curriculum is what most education systems use now. You start out with some basics and each year, or step you add to the previous lesson until you have the concept mastered. I see this in my kids math, at the beginning you start to learn with simple concepts, the next year the concepts are added to. It is the same whether it is addition, fractions, decimals or now with my 14 year old, linear expressions. The books even tell you, “last year or in level X we learned….” Their grammar program works the same way. I know I now have 3 using the same program at 3 separate levels. Nouns at 1st grade, 6th and 8th. (I digress) I have found the same idea in the Master Spinners program. I probably see it more because I am home schooling 3 kids and am exposed to examples of it more. Probably, my brain has been reprogrammed now and all I see are teaching patterns. Anyway, yesterday I had that moment. The one where it all came together.
As an aside, I have volunteered my time to become the Heritage arts person for spinning here in my county for the 4H program. When my kids started 4H I felt like it would be sad to have a child turn away from spinning because there was no mentor listed. So here I am. Then my county coordinator decided it would be a waste not to try to generate interest since I am here. We set dates for workshops and demos. Shortening the story, I find myself facing the prospect of teaching an as yet unknown number of children ages ranging from 8-18 how to spin using a drop spindle. I am kind of FREAKED out. So I said to my self “I have 3 kids I can use as test subjects.” Yesterday, I started with the youngest, she’s 6 1/2 and has been watching me do this basically her whole life and really wants to spin, but can’t reach the treadles on the wheel just yet.
So I get out some wool, for this I am using some Romney roving my aunt gifted to me. Mostly because I have it and it’s easy to draft and people keep saying long wool is easy to learn on. Not soft but easy. Okay. I get this little spindle out (top whorl) and the fiber and I think “how am I going to explain this”. One of the articles I have read which was helpful was in the spring 2002 SpinOff Magazine. The article is entitled “Spinning with Children”, by Ercil Howard-Wroth. In this article she talks about teaching “Park and Draft”. I have been spinning for six years and had to ask, “WHAT”? So I asked another spinner and she explained that you generate twist and then “park” your spindle, under your arm, between your legs etc. and then allow the twist into your fiber as you are drafting. Hungh….
Thinking about this I take my spindle, spin – stop, spin – stop, then I park it and draft out several inches of fiber and then allow the twist in…. it was MAGIC it tell you, simply Magic!!!
I know what you are thinking, she has gone on a tangent, I thought this was about spiraling… but it is. In level one of the Master Spinners, you have to do this assignment…. spin with a stick with a hook on the end. It is really called “lap spinning” and was thought to be the earliest form of spinning. I called it penance. In lap spinning you roll the stick on your thigh to create twist and then allow the twist into the fiber as you draft it out. It was HORRIBLE I hated every moment of it. However, I got my 10 yards and moved on. Now, what is this lap spinning? You add twist and then park, and draft. Yep, the very basic form of spinning, twist, park, draft, wind on. THAT was my realization. especially as I watched my 6 1/2 year old figure it out. Twist, park, draft, wind……(Note, these are not the best pictures, but Hey, I’m not the best at high speed photography with my little one… Hopefully you will get the idea)
Then I thought about how much I have been fighting with my Takli…. which is a supported cotton spindle
When using the Takli, you spin it like a top in the bowl and then you draft out with your LEFT hand. It all finally clicked, add twist, and twist and then stop and draft and watch the twist travel into the unspun fiber, then add more twist and wind on……. Holly cow, the dots all connected. Those concepts that I was forced into in level one, then sort of added to in level 2 (we had to do a plyed yarn on a spindle) all came together. No matter what people say, spinning on a Takli is so not what I learned when I learned on a spindle… Okay, I was mostly self taught on a spindle. I am thinking that if someone out there (Who, I have no idea) would have shown me park and draft, I would have had much less dropping and more spinning.