Friday, September 01, 2006

Story Time!

I've had a couple of comments recently from people who may be thinking about becoming spinners or wonder how your average, working Sheep became so enamored with this all- consuming pastime. Since I have nothing new on the needles and the sample of linen yarn that I plied today is still drying, I thought I might just take a minute and tell the tale.

Spin a yarn, if you will.

I honestly have no recollection of the day I decided that I must become a hand spinner. I seem to remember a presentation by some local shepherds on felting at the school where I was working as a counselor a few years back. But I don't remember being particularly inspired by it.

Who knows...perhaps a fiber or two was inhaled while they were there, worked it's way through my bloodstream and into my brain somewhere.

At any rate, a couple of years after that, having recently decided to leave the teaching position I took following the counseling gig, I somehow found myself thinking about spinning. In my typical Sheepie fashion, I plunged in with little regard for the idea that it might be helpful to take a class or at least read a book on the subject. I purchased a drop spindle kit and spun my very first yarn:

Stunning, is it not??
I know. It's not the best example of the craft. But it was the first of what I knew to be many other skeins so I knit it up into this ugly little pouch and I now carry it daily. It is a handy little keep-all for the various pain relievers and antacids that I bring with me to survive the trials and tribulations of being a school teacher.
With a summer of unemployment and zero income looming, I did what anyone might do. I bought a spinning wheel. For what its worth, I chose the least expensive one on the market, constructed of pvc pipe and wheelchair wheels. You know the one I'm talkin' about! It actually worked quite well and I still have it.
My next yarn yarn was spun from a three dollar lot I on which I bid through EBay. It is not what you would call, "high quality" fiber, but an unemployed gal with no insurance and an uncertain future needs to make one or two practical decisions. The wool was washed then carded (combed, really) using a pet hair brush. I then knit it up into this lap rug:

If you look closely, you can see that I have improved my techniques somewhat:

My Dad, a stand-up guy and former industrial arts teacher, became somewhat concerned that a daughter of his was spinning on a plastic wheel. The following Christmas, he presented me with a wheel that he had hand finished and assembled for me. While I was not in the market for a Jensen, it is the wheel I on which I have spun ever since and will probably use until it will serve no more. The tale behind my Dad suddenly becoming interested in the craftier side of life is another story for another day. It's a good one...

There has been a ridiculous amount of fiber in the intervening years, but these are, quite literally, the first two. I'm not sure quite why I remain so fascinated by the process of turning fluff into string, but I have yet to lose interest. I've spun through good times and bad times, had successes and failures, and tried a variety of fibers.

Remind me sometime to tell you about the cat hair yarn. And no, I'm not kidding!

Tomorrow, I hope to be able to post some pix of the linen. Thanks to the anonymous commenter who provided the assist with twist-setting. 'Cuz, you know I was gonna boil it...boil it 'til it begged for mercy. But today I was able to boil it knowing that it was the right thing to do.

Which is pretty much contrary to every other new experience I've had as a hand-spinner...what a lovely change of pace!



camadsmom said...

I remember the days when the crafts would come and go and then come back again and go again. You where the one who got me into crocheting. Alas I was getting to a point. Spinning is the first craft that I have seen you continually do. You spin and spin and turn your product into an array of wonderful products.

Beth said...

So you taught yourself to spin and you started with a drop spindle? I was tempted by one at a yarn store a while back, but I wasn't sure what I would be getting myself into!

molly said...

I can feel the craft bug about to bite me yet again. sigh.....

trek said...

PVC and wheelchair wheels. Who knew?

Way to go Sheep!

Veggies,Crafts & Tails said...

Thanks for the spinning tale, most interesting! Your dad sounds like one cool guy.

Huggs, G

Teri S. said...

I started spinning on a drop spindle made from a teacup hook, cabinet knob, and a dowel more than 20 years ago. Being in financial circumstances similar to you, Sheep, I bought an Ashford Traditional. Thereupon followed much spinning. And then I dropped it for about 20 years. It's good to come back to the art, but my spinning needs works. Hmmm...maybe I'll break out the merino/silk blend and not save it until I'm a "better" spinner. Thanks for the inspiration!