by Bee Candelaria
Spinning Demonstration by Alejandra
We couldn’t have merely begun this lab without the expert, Alejandra, to show up how to spin the wool. The skill floor (to take a term from Rahim) for spinning was higher than the other activities. The method we were taught is illustrated in this gallery.
Most students struggled but caught on after asking questions, especially to those students who did catch on pretty quickly.
(caption: students during demonstration)
Station 1: Weaving
My lab group began at the weaving station. Alejandra gave another demonstration on how to weave. She even pointed out a mistake made by the previous class and explained how to avoid it.
Observations from the students:
- Even though separating the strings was not very difficult, it takes considerably longer than you think.
- You simply stop thinking about what you’re doing on the loom, but this could lead to mistake is the weaving.
- It is harder to weave the strings through on one side than the other.
- Students had many questions on how to create smaller or more irregular shapes on the loom.
- Effort to be collaborative, asking other students if they are okay with switching the color or pattern.
Sociality: Despite the fact that students concentrated more and reported feeling less social, there was more talking and socializing at this station than at carding. Weaving was more social than carding, but less social than spinning.
Station 2: Carding
At the carding station, we learned how to take unprocessed wool and turn it into roving. The process was physically exerting and quite difficult to get a good technique.
Observations from students:
- Carding was more physically strenuous than you would think.
- Analogies of hair brushing were used often. Understanding carding through this lens led to better carded wool.
- The different wool types caused the experience of carding to vary widely. The Leicester Longwool sheep wool was long and much easier to card than the Soay sheep wool. The agora bunny wool was smooth and free of knots already and could be spun without carding.
- On the topic of having a child and processing wool, we talked about how carding was least likely to be “messed up” by a child. However, children probably would not have the physical strength needed to card. While spinning was more difficult to master, it may be best to teach a child how to spin at a young age so that they are good at it quicker.
Sociality: Despite the fact that students marked this activity as more social, the physical effort needed to card was an obstacle in this sociality. Conversation started and stopped very quickly. People were concentrated on carding as well as they could because they knew that they would be spinning the wool later. The stakes seemed higher.
Station 3: Spinning
At the spinning station, we sat in a circle and spun and talked. The “virtue competition” (AKA weighing the amount of wool spun) had already begun by the time our group had sat down at the station.
Observations from the students:
- Abbi spun the bunny wool, but the strands were thin and slippery and hard to make into thread.
- There was an awe about people who were good at it, especially Samantha who excelled.
- Conversation turned away from spinning and onto personal things.
- Highest weight in combined groups E & F was spun by Rahim, at over 80 grams.
- Not everyone was interested in the virtue competition, including me.
Sociality: This was by far the most social of the stations. Whereas at other stations the conversation tended to revolve around the work at hand, at the spinning station the conversation turned to more general things. We talked about our majors and minors, Carleton’s school policies, and broke off into smaller groups as well. Amalia and I talked about the struggles of being poor at Carleton. We talked about OCS experiences and their difference along class and race. Rahim and I talked about “seeming virtuous” by spinning thick thread that would lend itself to a heavier spindle and thus “more virtue.”