Sunday, December 12, 2010

Spinnin' Around

I'm spinnin' around, move out of my way...
- Kylie Minogue
Note: This post has nothing to do with hotpants, especially those worn by Kylie in her video.

About a month ago, my knitting buddy and fellow yarnaholic, Tara, were out for coffee one evening, and we got onto the topic of yarn (what else?), and spinning. She mentioned that there was a monthly spindle class at Make One Yarns in Calgary. "Would you go with me?" she asked?

Need she ask?

Fast forward to yesterday, when two incredibly excited ladies climbed into a jeep and drove into the city for our first spindle class. I was so relieved to be getting away for the day, after a hectic week at work. In truth, I'd almost forgotten about the class, but while we drove, I just felt happier and happier... but also a bit nervous. What if I couldn't do it? What if I got relegated to the dunce corner? What if I did something weird and accidentally took somebody's eye out? How would I explain that to the police?

For those who don't know, a spindle is a tool that has been used for thousands of years to spin fibre into yarn. We mostly think of spinning wool into yarn, but you can spin cotton, silk, flax (which, I never want to do - it sounds like torture on your fingers), alpaca fleece, llama fleece, qiviut, even cat and dog hair! They are basically comprised of a stick with a whorl at one end, and it spins in like a top to turn drafted fibres into a strand of yarn.

I've been interested in spindles ever since I bought one from this shop about a year ago. I looked at it and thought, "How hard could it be?"

I swear, that's going to be my epitaph.

I did a bit of research and watched a couple of videos. When my spindle finally arrived, I took it out, tried it once, and promptly put it away. It was not a successful venture... maybe I just wasn't going to be able to do it.

Nonsense. I said to myself. I just need to learn a bit more.

The next thing I did was purchase Abby Franquemont's book Respect the Spindle. Abby has spun with spindles since she was a little girl in the Andes. That knowledge alone heartened me: This is part of everyday life where she grew up, I thought to myself. That means, it can become part of my everyday life, too. I read the book end to end.

But I still didn't pick up my spindle again.

I needed more. I needed to be around people who were all doing it at the same time.

When we arrived at Make One yesterday, we wandered around the store a bit first, both of us savouring the novelty of having several hours to enjoy the store, without having to try the patience of husbands waiting for us. We strolled around, picking up several skeins, squeezing them, looking at the labels... I made several rounds around the store: first round to look at anything that immediately caught my attention, my brain spinning with possibilities, second round to let my eyes wander and catch onto anything I missed the first time, third round to start narrowing my choices down.

During each round, I averted my eyes from the spinning section. I'm not sure why. Maybe I didn't want to get too excited about it, in case I couldn't do it. Maybe I was thinking of the fibre I already had at home and figured I may as well use that up first.

At 1:00pm, I dashed outside to feed the car meter (did you know you can pay for the meter in Calgary with your phone?) and then joined the others seated on chairs and sofas at the front of the shop.

The next two hours went by in a flash. I reveled in the conversation, not really talking, but just listening to what everyone was saying. We noted each other's knitted creations - I wore my Purple Gabled Hoodie, another had on orange handknit socks, and I found a purple thrummed mitten outside that I knew for sure belonged to someone in the shop. It was interesting to hear the chatter: the frustrations of learning something for the first time. And it was funny to see how quickly we were distracted by people coming into the store: a lady with handdyed roving to sell, another with a felted bag from Starbucks that would make a perfect project bag, another with a beginner's wheel. I felt like I was part of something traditional and aged - a group of people all gathered to spin, and who all had a great respect for the process of textile making.

And, of course, who loved to spend money on the stuff.

I'm happy to say that I made pretty good progress, and managed to make a nice, fine yarn sample. Not too bad, I think.

I also walked a way with a few goodies.

Two beautiful skeins of fingering weight yarn.

A braid of Blue Faced Leicester roving to spin with.

And a bag of Merino and silk blend roving to try as well.

We left at about 3:00pm, chatting and laughing and eating popcorn all the way. It was a really great day. I felt really, really happy. I haven't felt that happy since my trip to Olds Fibre Festival last summer. I felt like I'd had a really good visit with old friends.

I slept really well last night, and dreamed about all the possibilities my spindle will afford. I really can't wait to start again.

Oh, and I also dreamed that I was swimming with sea lions. I thought that they smelled like dogs. And I woke up and found Rascal all snuggled up against me in bed.

Excellent. Yes, excellent.


YarnKettle said...

Oh sounds lovely. Can I ask what is the green yarn that you bought? Who made it? I love how roving braids look. Oh and the green of the merino silk blend is beautiful. Happy spinning. And remember it takes patience and practice to learn a new skill. I am sure you will do fine but don't beat yourself up if you don't at first.

AdrieneJ said...

That green yarn is from a local dyer, Yummy Yarn Studio ( and the colourway is called Green Beans. It's lovely, isn't it? I keep buying a lot of green yarn... I try to branch out, but it calls me back every time!

Loop said...

I'm like that with blue yarns. I'm a sucker for blue. I love that merino silk blend though. What do you have planned for that?

AdrieneJ said...

I really don't know yet. It would have to depend on how much I get out of it. Since it has silk in it, I can really stretch it out thin because the silk has so much tensile strength. I'd like to try and spin it as thin as possible, and then make something I can wear around my neck... a scarf or a shawlette or cowl. I'm saving that one for a while until I can get my technique under control!