When I started spinning dyed roving, I read about Navajo plying and the advantage it had over 'normal' plying, because of keeping the stretches of colour separate. Off I went to find out more and came across Sarah Anderson's YouTube video. I was mesmerised by the relaxed simplicity of her technique and watched the video several times, pausing it while I was spinning. She explains it perfectly and makes it look so easy. Seriously, if you want to learn this method of plying, take a look and learn from an expert. When I read that Sarah was going to be a tutor at this year's Fibre East, I really wanted to take one of her classes. The question was, which one?! As well as teaching the technique of Navajo plying, Sarah was also going to be teaching classes on making some speciality yarns, including coils, beehives and pigtails. Eventually, after much agonising, I decided to do the N-plying class to improve my technique. I ordered Sarah's book from Amazon and gorged myself on a wonderful array of photographs and step by step instructions on so many different spinning techniques.
The day of the class arrived and I set off on my journey with my spinning wheel belted into the car. I was amazed to find out that there were only two of us taking the course; it seemed that many people didn't want to stay late on the Sunday afternoon. But Cecile (the other student) and I were delighted as it meant we would be getting so much input from Sarah. Laid out all around the room were samples of Sarah's different yarns, many of which I recognised from the book. I would have loved more time to look at them more closely. During the course of the afternoon, Sarah showed us different samples and talked about them. I learnt so much.
Sarah said that as there were only two of us, we would be able to cover more than the original class content, so we decided to start off learning how to spin a slubbed yarn. I found this hard to start off with. As a spinner, I have tried to get my spinning as fine and even as possible, yet here I was being asked to spin yarn with thick and thin parts!! I discovered that you need to treadle really s l o w l y and be nice and relaxed when you are spinning slubs. Eventually I got the hand of it and Sarah gave us some dyed roving to spin up.
While that yarn was resting, we had a go at Navajo plying a bobbin of singles that we'd pre-spun. I think I showed you them towards the end of the Tour de Fleece. No sooner had we started, with Sarah showing us a neat way to start off, than she suggested we add some beads! So with a little tube of beads and some fishing line, we were adding pretty beads at random on our yarn. It's much simpler than I thought it would be, but quite labour intensive. Worth it for a special yarn though.................. I have plans!!
Before we could ply the slubbed yarn, we plied it with a silk blend fine thread - it gave the yarn an interesting look and I'd like to play around with it some more. Then Sarah showed us the technique of Andean plying - you wind the yarn around your hand in a special way so that you are able to ply from both ends of it. So clever! The aim was to ply the slubbed yarn so that the slubs lined up with each other so there would be really fat bits and thinner bits in the finished yarn. I'm not sure I quite achieved that effect because my slubs weren't that evenly spaced. But I'm still pleased that I've learnt another spinning technique.
All in all, it was an inspirational afternoon of spinning, learning from a really lovely person. If you ever get the chance to take a class with Sarah Anderson, do it!! You won't regret it, I promise you! xxx