I took a workshop this weekend, with one of my favorite teachers. I think this is my third or fourth? I don’t remember. There’s another next weekend, too. If I were a better in-person teacher, I’d probably be teaching some of the things that are the topic of these workshops. Sometimes I go to watch how other people learn, sometimes to get a different perspective on a familiar subject, occasionally because I know little about the topic and want to learn and sometimes just for fun. This one was mostly just for fun, I’d say.

I pretty much assume I get very different things out of spinning workshops. Some people go to spin and learn how to spin from the instructor. I generally go to see how other people spin. I try a few things but I know my best learning comes from playing with an idea over an extended period of time. What I don’t get at home is watching what things other people think up. I’m lousy at coming up with genuinely new ideas, but I can run with something once it’s been introduced. I have a little pile of samples, some from the spindle and some from the wheel, and a collection of fiber to mess around with. I have new interesting tidbits from others, about fibers or fiber animals or textile techniques or whatnot, and not always only from the instructor. Sometimes I hear the same story several times over the years, but maybe there is some new detail this time around. I try to not trot out my own stories too often, lest they get dull.

I don’t think I will ever be a great teacher, written not spoken word is my thing when it comes to communicating with more than one or two people at a time. What I really want is to have a conversation about the why of technique and not so much the how. For most things in spinning, the how I’ve got a good handle on (not all, mind you) and the key to better execution is understanding the why. Sometimes this can only come from a roundabout discussion with someone at a similar skill level. But this doesn’t just casually happen, there usually isn’t enough time even in a multi-day workshop unless it is very small. But over time, it comes in bits and pieces: new things tried and reported on, old ideas revisited and samples passed around.

This has been the best part of taking workshops many times with the same instructor.

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