Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Trouble with Ambition

I've always been adept at working with my hands. From the time I was very little, I've always built things, made things, played with knots, strings, bits of wood, staples, glue, paperclips... I made little people out of styrofoam cups and muffin casings. I've experimented with making houses out of ladyfingers. My short stint at Michaels was non-profitable because of the money I poured into my craft experiments.

It's not that I'm an expert on all things handmade. It's just that I like shiny things. Really. I do. And colourful things. And cleverly-made things. And I like to know how things are made. It's like knowing a secret code or a magic trick. It makes me squeal. Well, sometimes. But it sure does make me smile.

My newest infatuation is spinning. I want to learn to spin my own yarn, maybe eventually from fleece from local sheep or even alpaca. I want to feel the twist of the yarn between my fingers and watch the fleece stretch and wind into this miracle of fibre.

Here's my problem: What if I can't do it?

I have this fear that I've built up all these hazy dreams of prancing through green meadows with little lambs gamboling aside me, baaing and jumping, greeting the goats and the rabbits that I will also be spinning the coats of later in the day... only to find out that I'm just not good at spinning.

I know, I know... we all start somewhere. My hope is that, if I practice and try and try, I'll be able to make yarn to my liking. Maybe a double-knit weight yarn. Perfect and lofty and light.

Another problem is that I fear that spinning is not a cheap hobby, particularly for a beginner. I mean, if you want to learn to knit or crochet, you have to actually spend time knitting and crocheting. I've spent hours, nay, days, months, years perfecting how to hold my hooks and needles. And well, with spinning, you have to spin to get better. And you can't just spin anything -you have to have the roving, nice carded fleece to practice on.

It is for this reason that the spindle which I purchased a couple of months ago hasn't been touched since my initial attempt a while back. I feel like I should use up my stash, while in the meantime, spend some time researching and learning, touching the roving that I currently have in my possession. I should really understand what I'm getting myself into. Let's face it - lots of us don't have all this free cash lying around. I'm trying to sock away a bunch of money, just in case these dark financial days get darker.

In my travels on the web, I came across a book called Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont. I am very interested in spindles, partly because I like the idea of using an ancient tool that has been used in many parts of the world to create textiles. So far, I've had a history lesson and physics lesson about spindles, which I've really enjoyed. I'm now onto the meat and potatoes of the book now: how to actually spin. Now, I've already looked up lots of videos and tutorials on the web, but I like that all this information is neatly packaged together in this book, particularly the "troubleshooting" sections that help me to understand why my yarn hasn't turned out the way I expected it to, and what I might be able to do about it. It's comforting to have that nearby when I actually get started. It's helped to get rid of this unreasonable fear of failure and get me excited about it again.

But first... the stash. Always the stash to work on... And maybe, when I get a bit of cash saved up, I'll get myself a bunch of roving and commit to learning this new craft.

I think I'll call myself spiderwoman.


  1. I like the nickname spiderwoman :D It would be awesome to learn how to do. Not many people know or understand where it all comes from. Not sure if it's something I'd ever want to pursue, but I wish you luck in your endeavour!

  2. Thank you, Kina! The spindle is still sitting on the table from when I took the photo of it yesterday, and I keep walking past and picking it up. I'll get it done sometime!