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Daedalus Fly-In Retreat 2024 Teacher Spotlight - Michael Kelson


Michael is a software engineering professional who came to the fiber arts in the early 2000s. On an NPR radio show, "To the Best of our Knowledge," he heard a neurologist discussing the salubrious benefits of knitting as a creative activity that engages both sides of the brain. Something clicked, and he knew this was the unplugged activity he was looking for! He went to his LYS and signed up for his first knitting class. After that, falling down the rabbit hole of spinning was all but inevitable.


Michael's classes take a sample-based approach to spinning without being overly complex, geeky, or nerdy. From choosing fiber, preparation, draft, ply, and finishing techniques, sometimes minor adjustments have big impacts.


Engineers often embrace the PDCA cycle as a mechanism for continuous improvement. Plan-Do-Check-Adjust. But how can we, as spinners, "adjust" to make our yarn better? In his classes, Michael helps spinners build on their existing knowledge and experience to dial in their technique to get their perfect yarn.


The best workshop feedback Michael ever received was from a student who wrote, "I learned things I didn't even know I needed to know."



Classes

SpinPossible - Doing More with Less

3 hours $20 materials fee


We sometimes come across small amounts of rare and unusual fibers that we want to incorporate into our spinning (e.g. Qiviut, Guanaco, Bison, Yak, Cashmere) but often we’re not quite sure what to do with them. This class will discuss techniques for stretching small amounts of a precious fiber. We will discuss blending with complimentary fibers, percentages in blending, and how to spin to most effectively take advantage of the characteristics of the blended fibers. We will also discuss spinning more finely and consistently (spinning a thinner diameter single is a good way to stretch your fiber), and plying with commercial or hand-spun silk (like the Orenburg spinners!) to increase the yardage of that special fiber. Level of Spinning: Successful students should have a good working relationship with their spinning wheels, be able to spin a consistent single, and have some experience plying and finishing yarn. Students should bring:

  • A spinning wheel in good working condition

  • Hand cards (preferably >100 tpi, e.g. Clemes & Clemes cotton cards)

  • Extra bobbins

  • Notebook & Pen

  • Lazy Kate

  • Niddy Noddy

  • (Optional) Any personal fiber they might like to use for practice

Supplies Provided by Instructor:

  • All fiber used in class, including base fibers and blending fibers

  • Silk plying thread

SpinPossible - Mission Objective: Sweaters

3 hours $20 materials fee


Are you ready to tackle your first sweater-spin? There are many factors that we, as spinners, should consider when we embark on our first sweater spin. The core characteristics of the fiber (e.g. crimp, fineness, hand, prep) will influence the choices we make in spinning and the fabric in our final garment. This class will explore several fibers that might be great choices for your sweater. We’ll take a look at fibers you’re probably familiar with (Merino, Rambouillet, BFL), some blends (Shetland/Silk, Merino/Yak/Silk), and some fibers that might be new to you (Romney, Cheviot, Manx Loaghtan). We will work on diameter control and consistency, plying and finishing techniques, and how to evaluate your final yarn to make sure you’ll have the perfect fabric for the sweater of your dreams. Skills you will learn:

  • How to assess characteristics of different fibers

  • Techniques for consistency and diameter control

  • How to choose the appropriate draft for your fiber (worsted, woolen, semi-woolen)

  • Strategies for plying, finishing, and swatching

  • Evaluating your final fabric

Level of Spinning: Successful students should have a good working relationship with their spinning wheels, be able to spin a consistent single, and have some experience plying and finishing yarn. Students should bring:

  • A spinning wheel in good working condition

  • Extra bobbins

  • Notebook & Pen

  • Lazy Kate

  • Niddy Noddy

  • (Optional) Any tools they might like to use (hand cards, mini-combs) and any personal fiber they might like to use for practice

Supplies Provided by Instructor: All fiber used in class, including Merino, Manx Loaghtan, BFL, Cheviot, and others.


SpinPossible - Mission Objective: Socks

3 hours $20 materials fee


There’s nothing quite like the feel of socks knit from your very own handspun yarn, but you want to make sure your socks last longer than it takes to spin and knit them! This class will discuss yarn construction techniques that are appropriate for socks and examine various fibers and blends that will attain the perfect balance of strength, comfort, and durability. We will also discuss spinning with Down and Down-like breeds (e.g. Cheviot, Dorset, Suffolk, Southdown), and we will test spin several of these fibers and blends.

Skills you will learn:

  • Identifying fibers and blends that will make good handspun sock yarns

  • Spinning down fibers and blends for socks

  • Ply structures you might choose for your sock yarns (3-ply, 4-ply, cabled yarns, opposing-ply structures)

Level of Spinning: Successful students should have a good working relationship with their spinning wheels, be able to spin a consistent single, and have some experience plying and finishing yarn.

Students should bring: ​

  • A spinning wheel in good working condition

  • Extra bobbins

  • Notebook & Pen

  • Lazy Kate

  • Niddy Noddy

  • (Optional) Any tools they might like to use (hand cards, mini-combs) and any personal fiber they might like to use for practice

Supplies Provided by Instructor: All fiber used in class, including several Down fibers and blends.


SpinPossible - Mission Objective: Loft

3 hours $20 materials fee


Spinning Lofty Yarns from Worsted Preparations

Much of the wonderful fiber we have access to as hand-spinners comes to us in the form of combed top. Top is a worsted preparation and can spin a very dense yarn, which is great for hard-wearing items like socks or mittens, but what if you want to turn those beautiful hand-dyed braids of fiber in your stash into a loftier yarn for something like a hat, a scarf, or even a sweater? This class will explore techniques to introduce more air, loft, and bounce into your handspun yarn.

We will discuss drafting techniques for various fiber preparations, ways to modify your fiber preparation, and measuring your yarn to help ensure that you are getting exactly the yarn you want for the project you have in mind.

Skills you will learn:

  • Differences between worsted and woolen drafting techniques and fiber preparations

  • Spinning semi-woolen from combed top

  • Spinning from the fold

  • Modifying combed top preparations (fauxlags, carding)

  • Measuring the grist of your yarn with a McMorran balance

Level of Spinning: Successful students should have a good working relationship with their spinning wheels, be able to spin a consistent single, and have some experience plying and finishing yarn.

Students should bring: ​

  • A spinning wheel in good working condition

  • Hand cards (preferably >100 tpi, e.g. Clemes & Clemes cotton cards)

  • Extra bobbins

  • Notebook & Pen

  • Lazy Kate

  • Niddy Noddy

  • (Optional) Any personal fiber they might like to use for practice

Supplies Provided by Instructor: All fiber used in class, a variety of different commercial and indy dyed tops.



Find Michael at:

Website

Instagram

Facebook If you'd like to learn more about the Daedalus Fly-In Retreat for 2024 check out the official website. Sign ups are open!

https://www.daedalusflyin.com/

Stay tuned for our next teacher spotlight!

- Evanita

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