Sunday, April 05, 2009

Spinning Into Spring

I've learned it's dangerous to say definitive statements like the following: "I will never be interested in learning to spin. I am completely satisfied buying ready-to-knit yarn and not messing around with the expense of purchasing a spinning wheel and then all the roving, adding yet one more step before I get to pull out my needles to cast on a new project."

Someone out there likes to see me eat my words. Sort of like how I once wrote, about three years to the day before our wedding, how Eric and I would never get together, because nice as he was, I just didn't see anything coming from our friendship and he was too smart for me, but I digress.

It started slowly. I read several knitting blogs, and all at once, it seemed, they were showing the before and after photos. Before, images of the roving in wild, vibrant colors. After, the less intense colors of the beautiful, plied yarn. The transformation was amazing.

Add to that, I have three friends with spinning wheels. While I didn't ever see them spin until recently, they all talked of the relaxation it brought them.

While at K's house for dinner a month back, I asked to see her wheel since I hadn't set eyes on it before, and she spun a quick bit, then made a dangerous comment. She offered to loan me her wheel for a few weeks to get a feel for it before their pending move. First, I wrote it off -- I'm busy, I'm not interested in spinning, I don't want to think about buying a wheel if I love it and add yet one more hobby. But the idea marinated and grew more and more attractive, and next thing I knew, I found myself at her place a couple weeks back, getting my first lesson.

I was terrible. I overspun the roving so it was kinking up on itself, not feeding onto the spindle without a fight. I admit that the frustration level was borderline. Creative things happen for me without too much trouble. I like challenge, I don't like constant failure. So there was some bit of me that was comfortable writing off spinning. After all, I gave it a shot and it didn't take. I could check it off my list of creative pursuits and put it out of my head forever.

Then A gave me another lesson last week. And it started to click. I was steady with the treadle, and I understood how my foot and hands were supposed to be working together.

However, I did tell A that as attractive as the idea of spinning was to me, I was almost to the point of being okay writing it off and being satisfied that I didn't have to start saving up for a wheel, and darn her for changing my mind.

You start with something called roving, which looks like this:

Then you thin it out and put in a twist. Here's some of my early stuff while A was guiding me -- notice the thick and thin inconsistencies. We're talking thin as dental floss in some spots and thick as your pinky in others. I'm told to celebrate this now, since once I get better, I won't be able to recreate this. I think this is only about 20 yards.

After my coffee-shop lesson, I went home with the roving A gave and spun up the next batch. I ended up with about 50-yards worth, much more consistent and more of a worsted weight, although the twist is more definite in some areas than in others.

Then I was ready to move on to some of the black blue face leicester from Crown Mountain Farms that I had treated myself to. It was inexpensive but oh, so soft.

I'm a little over half done with the four ounces, and it's my best yet:

It's thin and fairly consistent, and I can't wait to finish and double-ply it, which should be in the next couple days.

So there you have it. The story of how I went from absolutely not considering the idea of spinning to how I am anticipating a wheel of my very own. That's another story, though. (Stay tuned for later this week.)

People have been asking if I will get sheep next. No.

I can honesty say that, at present, the interest to take the fiber directly from the animal -- even an animal I didn't care for -- and then have to still clean and card it before it would be in a state to be spun is not at all there, and the thought of the added steps does not appeal to me.

But we know what happens when I speak in firm, declarative statements, so I'll try to keep my mouth shut.


Aubrey said...

You're doing such a great job! The stuff you're currently spinning looks awesome! Once you get it to click, it becomes much easier, as I've said. I'm so glad you're enjoying it!

Moonlit Goddess said...

WOW! What a great job your doing. I can't believe the difference from your 1st skein to the BFL that your currently spinning. We need to have a spinning get together or something.

madalyn said...

You really are doing a great job! I'm still trying not to succumb to the temptation that is spinning. But watching you do it the other week at the coffee shop looked so fun!!!