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Spinning at Liverpool John Moores University

Posted: 11th April 2022
Author: Catherine Wright
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Learning to spin at John Moores University
Spinning at John Moores

We were extremely happy to have been invited back to Liverpool John Moores University to teach a tutorial in hand spinning for the fashion students there.

This was our third visit this academic year and we've been blown over by both the interest shown by the students and their ability too.

John Moores Uni have shown (in my opinion) much foresight in having spinners and weavers visit to show the basics of these processes. The students will go on to choosing fabrics and processes for their garments can have a full idea of the absolute basics and also the history of these skills.

Why does spinning matter to fashion students?

Student spinning yarn at John Moores University

By taking the time to be able to talk to the students about the sheep, the breeds and the qualities of the fibre and to let them feel the differences in those fibres it makes the connection between the fabrics and the animals that produce them. In terms of provenance and sustainability and giving a connection to local producers, hopefully they will remember and make those connections when they are designing or choosing where their fabric comes from in the future.

We were able to take a range of fibres from different breeds, showing how merino in all its glorious softness would be perfect in a garment worn at the neck. It would be no good in a pair of hiking socks which would need to be able to cope with friction and sweaty feet! Something coarser like a Cheviot would be great for that though, soft enough for a comfortable sock and able to cope with being stuck walking in a boot for hours.

How the process works

students spinning at John Moores University LJMU
Student's Handspun Yarn

We took 6 wheels in and the students shared, two at a wheel, often one treadling while the other drafted just like we do on our in person course. Some of these students had never met before and so it was definitely a case of being thrown in at the deep end.

By splitting the drafting and treadling into two separate parts, it means one can focus on the coordination needed for one process before attempting the other. This makes the whole process less overwhelming and feel achievable even with an audience.

Following us...

Along with us, the University had invited Kirsty from the Liverpool Weaving Company to come and talk to the students about weaving using a frame loom. Emma Summerscales from Studio Thrift also visited and talked to them about Borro and Shashiko, Japanese mending techniques that the students were able to practice. You can take a look at Emma's work here

With regards to fast fashion, knowing how much time and effort it would take to create a garment from scratch can be pretty mind blowing. Even now, the time it takes for me to spin enough yarn for a project has me choosing very carefully the way I will, 1) dye it 2 )choose exactly what I'm going to use it for. Being prepared to mend even the slightest hole is a definite bonus.

first handspun skein LJMU
A first skein of handspun yarn

If you or anyone you know is interested in this BA Fashion, Design and Communication course at Liverpool John Moores University, there is further information here. Or if you would like to learn how to spin yarn or take your spinning to the next level we offer workshops for all stages of spinning, take a look at the workshops and upcoming dates here

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