I was invited to M's Grade 1-3 class to give a spinning and knitting demo during the Social Studies unit his class is doing on pioneer's. I was quite excited to show the kids something they may have never seen before and hope I've managed to inspire some new knitters and spinners..
These are the samples of fiber I bought with me: Merino, NZ halfbred, Merino/Alpaca blend, Corriedale, Shetland, and two samples from unknown sheep breeds that came in a big box when I bought my second-hand wheel. I wanted to show the kids that just like there are many breeds of dogs, there are also many breeds of sheep, each with wools that feel different.
Some examples of handspun that came with me: natural Merino (one underspun, one overspun) Merino/Bamboo, Superwash Merino, BFL (starting the second column), Merino/Alpaca, Corriedale, Merino/Silk, Chien -gora, and some 3ply made from the unknown brown fleece.
I gave each kid a small piece of top to twist between their fingers to make about a 6inch piece of yarn, just to get the idea of how twist strengthens the fibers. Some of them caught on quite quickly, but others just had fun with the fluff! This fluff is NZ Halfbred from Aurelia Wool & Weaving in Merrit, BC..
Then I showed them how to card a small amount of wool. I used the Desired Haven's Shetland sample from my May Phat Box. Despite the bright Kool-ade colours (not so pioneerish - but I love them) I found this sample to be perfect for pioneer spinning. When I spun up some singles at home in preparation for my afternoon at school, I found it made a rustic looking handspun. I explained to the kids that the natural colour would have been white in this case and showed them all the bits of straw that a sheep would have picked up on its fleece while it went about its life. Then I carded a bit and explained that pioneers would have had to card or comb an entire sheep's worth and more to make the yarns and threads for their clothing. While spinning on my wheel, I showed them how I draft the fibers and how my wheel pulls the twisted fibers in..
To help them understand plying, I split the kids into groups of three and gave them each a 2 yard piece of the singles from my wheel that I had spun at home from this batt. One kid held on to each end of the singles, while the third held the middle. Keeping it under tension, the middle kid let go of his end about 4 inches at a time and let it twist back on itself until the entire length was a nice little piece of 2-ply. Each kid took home a third of their 2-ply. I love the colors in the finished yarn.