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Monday, September 28, 2009

Going Around in Circles

AKA Spinning

In her page-a-day calendar, the Yarn Harlot wrote that Gandhi thought that every person should spin yarn for 30 minutes a day. He “believed that the practice of quiet, structured, peaceful work would promote those same qualities in the people who did it”.

I spent a good portion of my summer wanting to learn how spin, which was problematic, since there aren’t any local yarn stores near me that carry spinning supplies, or teach spinning classes. So I was pleasantly surprised while in Colorado to stumble upon a yarn store named “Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins.”

There, I met the very kind Maggie Casey, author of the very helpful book “Start Spinning”, which has been my guide on my spinning expedition. Once I explained that I was interested in learning to spin (and was allergic to wool), Maggie grabbed a handful of plant fibre, a wooden drop spindle, and sat me down for a lesson in spinning 101. I left the store happily caring a bag of Alpaca fibre (already prepared into roving), and a Schacht Spindle, made locally in Boulder, Colorado.

I then followed Yarn Harlot's example of setting aside one day a week for spinning (her day is Tuesday, mine is Sunday – I like the alliteration “Spinning on Sunday”. It wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done. It took me awhile to control how many fibres were in my drafting triangle, which effects how thick the yarn is. I became better as I progressed, and ending up un-spinning and then re-spinning my earlier attempts. I also sometimes had the fibre break off when I spun it too thin, causing my spindle to come crashing to the ground (maybe that’s why it’s called a drop spindle?)

But even while struggling, I began to understand what Gandhi meant. Spinning was, well calming. And creative. It was the act of taking useless fibre and binding it together into something useful. Creating order from chaos. Reverse entropy.

Maybe it sounds like I’m exaggerating or romanticizing, but that is truly how it feels, at least to me, to spin. If you don’t believe me, try it yourself. You can borrow my book.

Anyways, after all my trial and error, I have,  finally, produced…yarn!

Yes, it’s lumpy, and its gauge changes every six inches or so (which should make for some pretty interesting knitting), but its yarn. Honest to goodness yarn.

P.S. The yarn is actually black. I don’t know why it looks brown.

P.P.S. I learned how to wind a centre pull ball here, which I think is one of the best knitting tricks I’ve ever learned.


Christy Z said...

Too cool! My grandpa used to spin wool on the spinning wheel we have at the farm. Maybe I could manage to get it down here and you can teach me how. I never learned from him. Your yarn looks great.

Emma said...

Sadly, I have no idea how to spin on a wheel :( Want to learn, though.