Intern Sierra Takes the Wheel

Sierra Sutton is one of our awesome interns here at Fort Frederica National Monument.  She is the Student Conservation Association Archaeology intern.  Her primary responsibility is working with students in the archaeology program.  Her boss is Ranger Michael, who used to be our boss before he got promoted to being Resource Manager.  When she mentioned to Michael that she would really like to learn how to spin yarn with the spinning wheel, Michael supported her.  He changed her schedule so she could be out doing living history with us on Saturdays.

Sierra’s first day spinning

Sierra spent her first Saturday helping Ranger Jamieson with the living history cooking.  Once the cooking was done, I had a chance to get her started on the spinning wheel.  I demonstrated what I was doing, then let her take the wheel.  She caught on to the treadling right away, but it took her a while to get the hang of pulling the fiber apart and letting it twist onto the bobbin.  Her first day was all about starts and stops when the yarn broke.  But she stuck with it and didn’t get frustrated.

Her second Saturday, Sierra spent the whole day at the wheel.  Her yarn was a little lumpy and uneven.  But, by the end of the day, she had a whole bobbin of yarn spun and she was very proud.  The third Saturday she figured out that she needed to have her hands reversed to what I had shown her.  I spin with my right hand in front holding the twist and pulling out the fiber.  When Sierra put her left hand in front, she really started going to town.  Now she can spin an entire bobbin in a couple of hours.

Getting the hang of it

I have been really impressed with how quickly Sierra has caught on to using the spinning wheel.  She can now spin and give the spinning talk while she is spinning.  The first couple of days I was concerned that she would get frustrated.  Then I realized that Sierra has the same kind of determined personality I have.  When we know that something takes practice, we just keep at it until we get it.  She is now spinning some lovely yarn with a beautiful halo.

A full bobbin

The only problem with Sierra spinning is that I don’t have enough bobbins.  The spinning wheel is a Country Craftsman which was built from 1972 until 2003 and is owned by Fort Frederica.  When I started spinning on it, it didn’t have any bobbins.  The fort didn’t want to buy the custom bobbins that would fit the wheel.

Tom made four bobbins for me to use, which was fine when I was the only spinner.  Now that Sierra is spinning I’ve been making her take her yarn off the bobbin when it is full.  I have two bobbins full of a different kind of yarn I want to weave into scarves.  I’ve been plying the yarn on the third bobbin, but I haven’t had much time to do it with Sierra using the wheel.  She had been very cheerful about taking her yarn off each day and reusing the one spare bobbin.

Ranger Jamieson and Intern Sierra

I love teaching what I know to people who want to learn it.  Ranger Jamieson and Intern Sierra have made living history a lot more fun this year.  They both want to know learn something that I can teach them.  In the process, they push me to learn new things as I try to keep up with them.