Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I can't believe it's been a whole month since I last posted! You would think that after a month I'd have a lot to show. Unfortunately, there's not much progress on the knitting front. That's partly because life is still pretty busy, and it's also partly because . . .

I started spinning!

Two weekends ago I got a down-and-dirty lesson in spinning with a drop spindle from Theresa, another knitter/spinner here in Houston who makes the most fabulously beautiful things. (She recently won first prize ribbons at the Texas state fair--one for a beaded shawl she made out of her own handspun, and another for an amazing lace tablecloth. Both were really breathtaking.) I bought some fiber from the Fiber Denn (without even knowing what I was really buying!), got a lesson from Theresa, and came home with some borrowed spindles to try. Since then I've been spinning a little bit here and there, and so far I've made four little skeinlets:

They proceed from left to right in order of when I spun them. My first pathetic skein is on the left--see how overspun it is? The skeins got progressively less overspun as I practiced more. I was also able to make the most recent skein a little more consistent in thickness. Although it's not perfect, I'm really pleased with my progress.

I have inexplicably had a bee in my bonnet about spinning for a while. I don't know why I suddenly developed an interest in it; for a long time I couldn't have cared less about spinning. I admired handspun yarn and could appreciate, on a general fiber-lover level, the kind of skill and expertise necessary to make handspun. My friend the Boll Weaver told me that spinning is very "zen" and that I'd love it. But I never was very interested, I think mostly because I've never been at a place in life (literally or figuratively) where I've had the time or inclination to start a whole new fiber hobby with a whole new learning curve and a whole new set of tools.

But during the past few months, I've started getting really interested in handspun. I like the idea of making unique yarn that no one else has. And I love looking at the beautiful things that Marnie spins up. So I wrote to Marnie to get some tips on starting, and I also remembered that Theresa spins and could actually give me a demo. (Before I talked to Theresa, I really had no idea how spindles worked. At all. Since yarn automatically winds onto a bobbin on a spinning wheel, I assumed that yarn automatically winds onto the shaft of a spindle, too, and for the life of me I could not figure out how that happened. Shows how much I knew just two weeks ago before the scales fell from my eyes!)

I got a lesson from Theresa two Sundays ago. And now . . . look, Ma! I'm spinning!

Here's a bit of detail shot:

As you can tell, the best and most recent skein is on the left. After my second attempt--my first solo spinning, without Theresa there to keep an eye on me--I decided to try for a thicker yarn and concentrate on consistency. There were a few hiccups in the third skein, but the fourth skein turned out much better. I still haven't moved very far beyond the park-and-draft stage, but on the fourth skein I was able to do some "real" drop spinning for a few seconds at a time.

And here's the fiber that started it all!

It's about 4 ounces of Shetland wool in the "Phlox" colorway from the Fiber Denn, and it's almost all spun up at this point. I was thrilled with the wool--it's nice and soft, and the colors are beautiful--so I regret mangling it so much with my clumsy beginner spinning. I might order some more to save for when I'm a better spinner so I can give the wool the treatment it deserves.

Of course, in my wisdom I started a new hobby just as the holidays are rapidly approaching. I'm torn between wanting to spin more to practice and needing to get a move on my knitting for holiday presents. The holiday presents will probably win out, but I hope to spin a little bit here and there, and maybe I'll keep improving.

GPG's mom's Silk Garden scarf is done. Pictures of that to come soon. In the meantime, though, have a happy Halloween tomorrow!


Anonymous caitlyn said...

Your handspun looks gorgeous!
We must be on the same wavelength, because guess what came to live at my house last week??

10/30/2007 1:14 PM  
Blogger Marnie said...

Your skeins are so great and I love the colorway. Yum.

They are definitely much better skeins than my first go at spindling. Mine looked like I gave my roving to a bunch of drunk squirrels playing the rain...only not so nice.

Hang in there and don't worry about trying to meet some arbitrary skill expectation. You are doing fantastically well. :)

10/30/2007 9:12 PM  
Blogger twellve said...

woo! pretty colors!! i think you are brave for trying a new hobby. i'm afraid my knitting has been nil since i got to london, but nice to read up on other people's progress. :)

10/31/2007 3:08 AM  

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