Friends, I have been holding out on you. About two weeks ago, I took a drop-spindle lesson — but I haven’t had time to blog about it until now.
I first got this bee in my bonnet about spinning a whole year ago, when a class was announced at The Yarn Lady. As it turned out, the scheduling didn’t work for me, and all year I kept either missing announcements for classes or hearing about classes that I was unable to attend. Finally a few weeks ago the stars aligned through a series of complicated events, and I made a last-minute decision to just finally go to a class already. And it was great!
Now, by “great,” I don’t mean “I made totally awesome yarn.” Do you want to see the yarn I made at my spinning class? Because here it is:
Okay, you can stop laughing now. Or crying. Or whatever that is you’re doing. Because damn it, I enjoyed making this yarn even if it looks ridiculous. I was reminded of how much I really like learning new skills! I actually sort of enjoy having total permission to be completely terrible at something and to ask incredibly stupid questions. I spend so much of my life as a teacher and scholar pretending to be an expert and acting like I have all the answers, so I found it sort of therapeutic to be able to be a total novice for once.
Another great thing about learning new skills is measurable and rapid improvement. This is, shall we say, not something that I get to experience very often in the process of writing my dissertation. Check out the second little skein of yarn I spun, just a few hours after the class:
Hey, that almost looks like something I could begin to imagine knitting with! Something crazy-looking, no doubt, but the color choices were not mine — I spun this out of a bunch of random fiber scraps that my teacher Karen let me take home to practice on. (And by the way, if you’re in southern California and interested in spinning, you should definitely hit Karen up! She’s a fabulous teacher.) There are still a bunch of big slubs in here, and the whole thing is quite bulky and loosely spun, but I’m thinking about actually doing something with this yarn: maybe some funky cuffs?
After that first day, I had to take a hiatus because Pat and I were out of town for a few days. But when I returned, something magical happened. Somewhere between watching Abby Franquemont’s instructional videos, reading Abby’s book, and playing with the random bits of fiber on my coffee table, I had an epiphany about drafting that enabled me to avoid making those big slubs, and has helped me to get rid of them when they do occur. Behold, my current project:
Look how thin that yarn is! And how (comparatively) even! I am very excited. I wish I could explain to you what this epiphany consisted of, but it’s more of a “how it’s supposed to feel” epiphany — sort of like what your body realizes when you figure out how to ride a bike. One of the reasons I’m kind of in love with spinning right now is that it’s letting me experience fiber on a whole new level — I’m already gaining a better understanding of how fiber behaves and how different kinds of yarn are constructed.
The yarn I’m spinning in the above picture is from a Louet brand Corriedale top, dyed “Pagoda Red.” I’m planning to ply those singles together with the ones I’m going to spin from this baby here:
This is a Targhee top from Mountain Colors in the colorway “Indian Corn.” I have nooooo idea how much yarn I’ll end up with when all this is over, but I figure I’ll spin first and ask questions later. I’ll have at least enough for a hat, right? We’ll see. We’ll see.