Are you stuck in a spinning rut?
Have any of these things ever happened to you?
No matter what you spin, you end up making more or less the same yarn over and over again. You use the same draft. All your singles turn out to be about the same diameter. You always use the same number of plies.
Or: you have a yarn in your head. It's beautiful. And it would be perfect for a project you've been dreaming about. But you have absolutely no idea how to make it. What fiber should you choose? How should you spin it? How many plies would be best for the fabric you want to create? You're stumped.
Or: you've found it. The. Most. Luscious. Fiber. Ever. It's so soft. And it's been beautifully dyed in your very favorite shade of your very favorite color. There's only one catch: you've never spun it before. And you're not sure how to spin it to bring out all its wonderful qualities. So it languishes in your stash, because you're afraid of "ruining" it or "wasting" it.
If you've confronted any of these situations, you may be in a spinning rut. And I know how to get you out of it.
Bust that rut and find your groove
In The Creative Habit, choreographer Twyla Tharp distinguishes between ruts and grooves. When you're in a rut, you're spinning your wheels, expending effort but not going anywhere. In a groove, on the other hand, you're creating easily, purposefully, and courageously.
So how do you get out of a rut and into a groove? You stop doing the same thing and expecting different results! You experiment. You try things you've never done before. You thumb your nose at perfectionism. You let yourself make things you don't love. You heed the words of Samuel Beckett: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."
Of course, you could do these experiments on your own. But wouldn't it be great to have some expert guidance along the way? And wouldn't it be great, too, to have a community completely devoted to supporting your dream of being a better spinner? You can find both in Bust Your Spinning Rut.
Bust Your Spinning Rut is an eight-week online class designed to get you out of your rut and making as many different kinds of yarn as you can imagine, with confidence and joy. It's designed, in other words, to help you find your spinning groove, whether you're a new spinner eager to broaden your yarn-making horizons, or a more experienced spinner who'd like some support and encouragement in branching out and trying new things.
The class runs from May 7-June 18, and consists of four modules.
In the introductory module, you'll assemble materials (most are likely already in your stash), dig deep into your own default yarn, and spend some time dreaming of the yarns you long to make.
The remaining three modules will focus on on using different drafts, working with different fiber preparations, and spinning new-to-you fibers. Each of these will include:
- one or more pre-recorded video lessons, so you can see me demo techniques and address likely sticking points
- live "office hours," so you can work with me to plan your yarn for the module
- a live group class, so you can share results, compare notes with other students, and ask questions
- ample time to spin each module's yarn, so you can spin each yarn at your own stress-free pace
You can find the complete class schedule here. Note that all the live elements of the class will be recorded for those who can't participate in real time or who would like to rewatch them.
In addition to the videos and live sessions, the course will include these two bonuses:
- private messaging with me and other members of the class via an exclusive channel on Slack, so you can access course materials, ask questions, and share your wins. I've chosen Slack because it's easy to use, versatile, and secure.
- a workbook with all the class worksheets and space for your own notes, so you can stay organized and on-track
Enrollment is now open, and is limited to thirty students. The price of the class is $397.
Sounds intriguing. But who's teaching this class?
I am. I'm Sasha Torres. I've been spinning incessantly since 2009, and during that time I've taken classes with many of the leading spinning teachers in North America (including Sarah Anderson, Jacey Boggs Faulkner, Anne Field, Abby Franquemont, Judith MacKenzie, Deb Menz, Jillian Moreno, Deborah Robson, and Beth Smith).
In 2014, I started my fiber company, Sheepspot. Sheepspot has a twofold mission:
- to make beautifully-dyed fiber for handspinners, with a particular emphasis on rare and unusual wools
- to provide spinners with the information and support they need to make yarns they love, through in-person and online classes and The Sheepspot Podcast.
Before I started Sheepspot, I worked full time as a university professor. I've taught in universities—including Brown, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, and Harvard—for over thirty years (and I still teach half-time at the University of Western Ontario).
Is Bust Your Spinning Rut for you?
- You have access to a spinning wheel in good working order and are comfortable spinning a continuous thread
- You are open to exploration and experimentation in your spinning and willing to be patient and compassionate with yourself in the process
- You are eager to commit time and energy to becoming a better spinner
- You have a smart phone or computer with a microphone and (optional) video camera, to participate in the online classes
Probably not, if:
- You are primarily a spindle spinner
- You are a very, very new spinner and aren’t (yet!) able to spin a continuous thread with confidence
- You aren't able right now to devote the time and energy that the course will require, or your schedule completely precludes participation in the live elements of the class (check the schedule here)
What happens after I join the class?
Within 24 hours of joining the class you'll receive an email welcoming you and explaining how to get access to the private Slack channel (so you can get set up and introduce yourself). In subsequent emails over the next few days, you'll receive the class schedule and materials list, so you can gather what you need and be ready to jump in.
The course materials for the introductory module
will be available via Slack on Monday, May 7. At that time you'll also find detailed instructions on joining and participating in the first live class meeting, on Wednesday, May 9 at 7 pm Eastern. We'll be using a platform called Zoom for our classes.
Frequently asked questions
What's your teaching style like?
I've been gobbling up information about spinning nonstop for nearly a decade. And since I've been teaching for a long time now, I've got mad skillz at explaining complicated things clearly.
For me, teaching is an expression of love. I promise to honor your learning process and dig deep to find solutions if something's not working for you. I really want you to succeed, whatever that means for you.
A good way to find out whether my teaching style will work with your learning style is to listen to a couple of episodes of The Sheepspot Podcast. I try to make most episodes short, actionable lessons that my listeners can apply right away to have more fun spinning and make better yarn. In particular, you might have a listen to these episodes:
- Episode 4: Woolen? Worsted?
- Episode 10: Spinning More Consistent Singles
- Episode 17: Buying Fleeces
- Episode 20: Your Spinning Mindset
The class seems expensive to me. How did you determine the price?
I appreciate that Bust Your Spinning Rut costs a lot more than spinning DVDs or courses on platforms like Craftsy. But because this class includes so much live interaction with me and your other classmates over an eight-week period, it will be a very different and far more personalized experience.
A closer apples-to-apples comparison would be taking a multi-day class at a spinning conference like Madrona or PlyAway, which, when you add up class fees, materials costs, travel and lodging, can be a considerable investment. Bust Your Spinning Rut actually does that kind of class one better by giving you ample time and space to absorb and practice what you're learning before the class ends.
I'm uneasy about the technical aspects of this class. How can I be sure that I'll be able to get everything working?
I've selected both Slack and Zoom for their ease of use. And I'll provide you with detailed instructions on how to get going on each platform. I and my crack assistant, Ella, will be to help if necessary.
If I'm not happy with the course, can I get a refund?
Yes, under certain circumstances. Read on, grasshopper.
If, after participating fully in the class, you're not happy with the results you're seeing in your spinning, I will cheerfully and promptly refund your money, provided you request a refund by May 31, 2018.
You can't get out what you don't put in. "Participating fully" means doing all of the following:
- attending at least two of the four online classes
- taking advantage of at least one of the three office hours (either live or by posting a question in advance)
- spinning the yarns in each of the three modules