Monday, April 28, 2014

From Wool To Waulking (DVD) - Norman Kennedy

From Wool To Waulking: Spinning Wool and Creating Cloth
From Wool To Waulking: Spinning Wool and Creating Cloth With Norman Kennedy
Norman Kennedy
Interweave Press
Copyright: November 2012

The product description:
The History! The Stories! The Techniques! Join Norman Kennedy in an enthralling workshop about spinning, weaving, and waulking wool. Following his passion for weaving and knitting around the British Isles and around the world, Norman Kennedy watched traditional artisans making textiles as they had for generations. By listening to their stories and learning their craft, Norman preserved skills that were on the verge of disappearing. Now you have the chance to experience these traditions, learn the stories, and gain valuable spinning techniques with this workshop! In this video workshop, he teaches a new generation of spinners these techniques: Oiling wool for carding Using hand cards to prepare rolls and batts Dressing and spinning with a distaff Creating Shetland-style lace yarn Successfully spinning wool with a variety of spindles, a treadle wheel, and a great wheel The workshop culminates in a waulking, a method for fulling cloth that brings people together to finish cloth by hand-led and accompanied by Norman's singing in a variety of languages. In a bonus segment, Norman demonstrates using a traditional indigo dye vat and discusses a variety of natural dye techniques. Norman Kennedy teaches using the rich past as his course.
I bought Waulking with Wool a couple of months ago now on the strength of this sample clip:

I have to say that the rest of the video more than equals that clip. I've watched the whole thing once and the first disc a second time, with the full intent of watching it several more times as I try and figure out the techniques that Norman Kennedy demonstrates.

I'd also like to try out a spindle like the one he's demonstrating on and see how well that works - or not - I'm pretty used to a drop spindle now after almost ten years of using one and I'm trying to figure out the supported spindle and it's techniques intermittently - planning a month long blitz on that one for May thanks to a couple of Ravelry challenges.

Norman Kennedy seems, in the video, to imply that drop spindles were/are less common historically than more supported style spindles, but I've seen quite a few depictions of drop spindles in the art of the ancient world and in medieval illuminated manuscripts. I'd love to be able to discuss that a bit more, if only to find out if I'm misinterpreting what he's saying.

You really get your money's worth on this one: two discs making a total of three hours of clear and detailed spinning instruction. But, even non-spinners find this interesting watching. It's all interspersed with anecdotes, personal history, history in general and even folk-lore - including some traditional songs involved in fibre-crafts (something I wouldn't mind hearing more about. I wonder if any of these are on his cd?). I started watching it with some other spinners for the second watch, and they were finding little bits of things to try as well, and these are people who have much more experience than I do, so there's stuff here for spinners at all levels.

At this point in time the section of the video I'm focused on is the beginning half of the first disc: the initial fibre-preparation descriptions and instructions: cleaning, processing, and carding. All the things you have to do with a raw fleece before you can spin it.

Next time I'm watching, I'll probably be paying a lot more attention to another section of the dvd. Perhaps it'll be where he's spinning on the flax-wheel and how he's controlling the twist going into the singles. I've watched that a couple of times and when I've tried it myself, it just feels really uncomfortable. I don't know if that's because I've been doing it the way I have for so long, or if it's because of how and where my wheel is set up - I'm right next to a wall, so I'm sitting a little off-center from my wheel, and the orifice is more in line with my left hand, while I'm right handed. Comfortable enough with the way I've been handling the roving, but for his method, it feels like I'm trying to work across my body.

Overall though, this is definitely the best spinning resource I've found to date - short of being able to spin live with someone more experienced who can demonstrate, correct and answer questions as I'm working. Still this is pretty close.

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