48 of 51 Yarns: Teaching Stringbean to Spin

This post is part of a spin-along through 51 Yarns by Jacey Boggs Faulkner, in the Wool n’ Spinning community. For other posts in this series, check here.

I wrote this post back in MARCH! I spent some time spinning with Stringbean back when our first lockdown was happening. I didn’t publish it, though I’m not sure why… maybe I kept thinking we would come back and do more spinning lessons? I’m not sure. But now that my 51 Yarns study is coming to a close, I’m on the community chapter, so it’s time. I’ve written already about community far away and community nearby, so here is what I wrote eight months ago about community at home.


Stringbean turned seven in February, and I had promised that I would teach her to spin. When the moment came, it turned out that what she really wanted to learn was the sewing machine, but I did talk her into sitting with me at the wheel a few times.

I let me kids treadle on my wheel almost anytime, so she has a good handle on how to keep the drive wheel going steadily. However, working the treadle while learning to draft is another animal. I predrafted some top and modeled the actions for her, then let her at it.

She grasped the short-forward movement okay. Fifteen minutes exhausted both of our interest, and I called her first little length of yarn a success.

I thought that was going to be that for a while, until the other day when she caught me carding up rolags for my tweed sample. She very much wanted to card, and I was happy to let her.

Hard work! Proprioceptive input!

This she found very entertaining! This despite the not-so-great state of the cormo x locks I gave her to work with. She made a few little rolags and asked if she could spin them. Of course!

This time I had the bright idea to put one foot on the treadle beside her so I could at least help her keep it moving while she kept most of her attention on drafting. But the drafting was still a struggle – she held her hands too close together and just ripped fiber apart. And she was up in the fiber supply rather than making a drafting triangle – a concept I found myself at a loss to explain.

Next time, I’ll spend some time first predrafting with her, explaining the drafting triangle before the wheel starts turning.

It’s in the nature of one’s relationship with one’s oldest that we are forever testing each other out. She’s still my guinea pig. But we do manage to have a lot of fun. She and her sisters are all at delightful ages, and beginning to share our pet loves with them is a particular treat.

These days that we’ve all been stuck at home have been overall pretty fun. Turning my heart toward the people I actually live with is a daily struggle, and I know I’m not alone in that. One blessing of the current crisis is that we are all forced to find community at home, for those of us who share a residence. I’m so thankful for a family that makes this a joy and a reward in itself, even when it’s hard.



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