Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The secret life of a half-baked spinner

For months people have asked me: how is the spinning going? And I would not know how to respond, the progress was so slow, if any, the learning curve so steep, the terminology obscure, and at every step it looked like I was missing the right tool: carders, combs, diz, lazy Kates, what-have-you.

I mean, compared to knitting, the whole business seemed so much more complicated, time consuming, abstruse. Of course, it took me many years to reach my level of competence and confidence in knitting, but somehow, I was expecting to master spinning in a couple of weeks. And when that did not happen, well, I just turned back to knitting.

But of course, the wheel was there, and tales of spinning and photos of fabulous handspun yarns were all over. And I made more spinning friends who started sharing their wisdom and held my hand, lent me tools and arrived with bags of fiber for me to try.

Michelle, who never does things in half, arrived two weeks ago with a bag of raw Shetland fleece and a bag of unnamed washed fleece, with the intention of showing how to wash and comb fleece. But we got distracted by the posse of children roaming the house, so nothing got done.

The Shetland fleece, however, did not give up on me, and last week made me set aside everything else, wash it in the sink, dry it and to comb it. I wish I had documented this part, but was too excited. After a few false starts, combing was blissful; once i gave up on the idea of actually wanting to be done with it, so I could spin, it turned into one of the most relaxing activities ever: totally pure, seemingly endless process.

Eventually all the combing yielded these soft fluffy rovings (is this the right term?)

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Which filled this bobbin

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The single was wound onto my faithful swift

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Then relaxed in hot water, and made into this little skein (fluffy waste fiber on left hand side).

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Approx 250 yards of lace-weight Shetland yarn. I can’t explain how happy this makes me, and how proud I am of the whole thing. It’s not the first yarn I spun, but it’s the first from raw fleece. And I just love it. Every single little fiber of it. Here’s a close-up. I want to knit it into something very special.


Blogger Maggie said...

You inspire me! The roving looks fantastic.

5:14 AM  
Blogger Tracy said...

Well done you! You have every right to be so very proud of yourself, it's gorgeous. I'm feeling envious now, where's my wheel......

7:06 AM  
Blogger maryse said...


7:11 AM  
Anonymous Colleen said...

Congratulations!! Your patience and persistence paid off.

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gorgeous Ben, just lovely. What a special knit that yarn will be. All this talk of spinning and seeing such beautiful work makes me want to break out my wheel and have a go again. (It's 10 plus years since I last used it)

12:14 PM  
Blogger mf said...

It Looks wonderful!! but why on the swift first?? Anyway looks like your ready for more, but unnamed fiber??? Thought I marked them all.hmmmm
I bet with a little bit more you could make an absoutely beautiful shawl!!

12:17 PM  
Blogger MeMoiJa said...

Congratulations. Beautiful. Sooner or later I'll give in to spinning. This is not helping (I mean, to keep me away).

11:08 PM  

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