General knitting spirituality

Developing New Skills

Last week, I finally began to learn something I’d been wanting to try for a while: spinning. I don’t mean a cardio workout, but rather, spinning yarn.

All of you fiber people probably know this next bit, for those not of Fibrish persuasian, allow me to explain a little. Spinning fleece into yarn (or more properly, rovings into yarn) can either be done on a spinning wheel or  a drop spindle. Through most of human history, the drop spindle has been the tool of choice, since it was basically the only tool. Recently (meaning the last few hundred years, maybe?) the spinning wheel was invented and is now the predominant image we have for transforming fiber to yarn. But many hand spinners continue to use drop spindles, because they are cheaper and more portable. So I am learning on a drop spindle, it being both cheaper and more portable.

Stacy taught me the rudiments: how to attatch the fiber to the spindle, how to spin it, how to draw the fiber. Once I’d created some “yarn” (and I use the term loosely), she taught me how to ply it, creating a yarn from single strands. And she kept telling me how well I was doing. Which was odd, because I felt like I was making a complete mess of the roving and the product of the spinning, which might, very generously, have been called yarn.

Unsurprisingly, spinning is difficult. It is a skill which is built, traditionally, through years of practice, each generation teaching the next. And I want to be able to do it, first time round, starting at age 37. And yet, I’m surprised it didn’t turn out well.

I know that what I need is more time, and practice (and Stacy did say the roving I was working with might have been a little tougher to work with than some). Just like knitting, when I first tried it, it felt very, very wrong (I still have a washcloth I made where I didn’t understand moving the yarn from back to front and vice versa when doing ribbing, and therefore yarned over every stitch….creating a very odd shape). And I know that if I keep at it, it will get better, and I probably will enjoy it, and learn to produce yarn that I love. Yet at the moment, I am discouraged.

I’m not giving up, but I’m not entirely sure I’m going to give up my knitting time this evening in order to spin, either.