A few hours after landing in NC, I went to my niece's school to do a spinning demonstration.

I've never done a spinning demonstration. I've never been in front of a bunch of kids as an adult. When I was about my niece's age, I did a short "play" that was videotaped for class. I think I was supposed to be a farmer's wife. When I watched the video, I noticed I had my hands clasped over my head for most of my scene. I still do that sometimes, it's comforting. (Thankfully, I grew out of the habit while a theatre major.)

I might have wanted to clasp my hands. I was nervous. I had butterflies!

My niece's teacher gathers up the kids right up close to me. I ask, "how long do I have?" She tells me 20-30 minutes, but don't worry if I don't need it all. I'm thinking, don't need it all? I could use more!

I begin, "My name is Monica and I'm here to demonstrate spinning." A hand shoots up.

Me: "Yes?"

He: "Um, well, um, my, um, my question, um, is, um. I have a cousin whose name is Monica." He smiles.

Me (smiling, and thinking, heh, he got you, noob): "Really? Well, I think it's a great name. I like it."

I start handing out 8" of roving to each kid, and ask if anyone knows where wool comes from (sheep!), mention there are a lot of different kinds of sheep, list a few:

handing out wool

It's taking too long, so I give a pile to one kid and say, "take one and pass it along."

Ha! Instant chaos: "I didn't get one!" "Give me one!" "Wait!" "Do we get to keep this?!" "I didn't get one!" I am in awe.

The teacher settles everyone down and I'm chuckling inside.

I tell them to hold the ends of the roving and gently pull. See how easily it comes apart? Then we twist the roving a few times and pull. Aha! The twist is what makes yarn!

learning about twist

I show them how to gently draft the roving to get yarns of different thicknesses, just by pulling and adding twist. They begin to do the same on their own roving.

I move to the spindle, and show them how the spindle does the twisting work, but everything else is just the same.

I move to the wheel, and show them how the wheel does the twisting work, and everything else is just the same. The kids not in the first row are craning to get a good look.

demo-ing the wheel
the chairs, so small

I draft thin, I draft thick. I answer a couple of questions. And then, I realize, I'm done. Demonstrating. It's been 10 minutes. Maybe 12. I'm sheepish. So much for needing all that time! Then I think, what fun is a demonstration without getting to try it?

"Who would like to try spinning on the spindle?"

Hands shoot up! I think the teacher's heart rate picks up. I pick the first person to raise their hand.

spinning the spindle

She spins the spindle while I hold the fiber, then we switch and she drafts.

Me: You've just made yarn!

She smiles.

We switch a couple of times, and then I ask for another volunteer.

Hands shoot up! It's a little overwhelming. How do you choose? 

My niece stands next to me, working on her roving. She's quietly making yarn, fairly even, too. I tell her it looks really good!

she's making yarn

She: Is this a 2 ply?

Me: No, that's a one ply. A single. (I know, I know, it's not called one ply.)

She: Is it now?

By jove, if she hasn't just folded it and let it twist on itself.

Me: Yup, that's a 2 ply.

Kid after my own heart.

I let 4 kids try out the spindle, 2 girls, 2 boys (they were just as enthusiastic to try, thankyouverymuch). I've hit my time limit and pack up to go. I'm jazzed up, excited to share, thrilled that they were so enthusiastic to learn and try something new. Who knows, maybe there's a spinner-to-be in the bunch?

*     *     *

Besides my niece, that is. When she came home from school, she was excited to try the spindle again. Her first time was in January on my last visit, but she mostly enjoyed spinning the spindle and left me to do all the drafting. We started out with the 2 person spindling as in the demo, but then I moved to twisting the spindle and letting her draft. She was so fast I couldn't keep up. Out came the wheel.

(No photos, not with a 13 month old trying to touch the moving parts.)

Over a couple of sittings, she spun up the rest of the practice fiber I had brought. The night before I left, I plied it with what was on the spindle, and then gave it a quick bath:

Bahia's 2 ply

My niece's first yarn. Yup.