Our first day back to ‘school’ after our holiday was a workshop on Flax Spinning with Amanda Hannaford, which felt like a real treat to witness. Amanda covered the whole process from scutching and hackling the plant, even creating a distaff. It felt like an ancient process with it’s own language. I couldn’t get over how the fibre produced was so beautifully silky.
All spinners, whatever their experience went home having discovered a new skill and with a bit of practice will master the art of producing linen. What a testament to Amanda’s teaching! We will definitely be asking Amanda to teach at The Loom Shed again, but she did murmur the word ‘retirement’. Is a craftsperson allowed to retire I wondered? And who is there to replace Amanda? As she admitted there aren’t many spinners as geeky as she was/is to want to know all the technical ins and outs of hand spinning. So what’s to be done? Where is Amanda’s protégé coming from? Who will be our next hand spinning tutor? And it’s not just hand spinning, many crafts are dying out because there is no-one to pass the skills onto. In fact the Heritage Crafts Association has created a list of crafts that very few people practice, the market to sell to is dwindling or there are few people learning it. I don’t know what the answer is. Treasure what we have and encourage new learning? Do share your thoughts.