I Can’t Believe I’m Spinning!

No, I’m not writing another of those cheesy how-to books. But last night I took my first “real” drop-spindle class! I say “real” because I did get an introduction to the craft from Lynn at Mad About Ewes when I visited Lewisburg PA last October. Lynn generously ushered me into spinning when I stopped in to get some DPNs for a project that was on the needles, and by the time I left a couple of hours later, I had my own spindle, a lovely bag of roving, and a copy of Hands On Spinning to get me started.

Because the holiday knitting was totally consuming my time and energy, the spinning didn’t get a glance until a couple of weeks ago. I pulled out the book and supplies, but couldn’t seem to get into the groove, so started checking out the various LYSes and found that Purlescence had a spinning night! I made the short trek to Sunnyvale that very evening, about 2 weeks before Stitches West, and Sandi kindly gave me a bit of attention. But because of SW, there was a lot going on, and Sandy said she’d be doing a spinning class in March.

I checked back and found that the class was starting last night, so got my not-so-little butt down to the shop and took it in. Only had a small “accident” before class – two skeins of Maizy from Crystal Palace (corn fiber and elastic, on sale!) for some spring soxes, and a pattern called Blessing Socks by Miriam Felton, which won’t be used for the Maisy.

blessing.jpg

Why did I have to have this pattern? Because for 30-odd years, I was a belly dancer, and Baraka was my stage name. Baruch/Barak is a Semitic term whose various shadings and conjugations derive from the meaning “blessed.” The reason I chose the name was that the definition I first learned was “the essence that builds up in places where people invest spiritual energy.” Dancing, for me, had always been a way to step out of space and time; it was, in many ways, the way I rejoiced in the energy of the universe. The name also protected me in a milieu in which the dance (and the dancer) was often perceived as being less than respectable. Any time a native Arabic-speaker was curious about why I had picked that name (assuming that, like many dancers, I’d just picked something that randomly sounded good), my explanation always assured them that I not only knew, but respected the meaning. It sure made my working life a lot more friendly!

So I’ll make the sox at some point (there is a considerable sock yarn stash here at Villa Incognito) and emjoy having a little bit of Baraka back in my life again. If you wonder why I’m not dancing any more, you can read the full story here.

Diversion aside, I was terribly excited about learning more about using my cute little spindle. Sandi herded us into the back room of the shop, checked out our spindles (mine’s a top, the other two people have bottom spindles), passed out a nice chuck of Corriedale, and started us off.

You know, it’s only just twirling a top and sending a fiber into twists. Why do I feel like a total klutz? But as Sandi just kept reassuring us and laughing with us at the “interesting” and “designer” yarns we were creating, it got a bit more comfortable. That meant Sandy could start talking to us about fiber and how it works and all the different possibilities – and still being encouraging and helpful every time one of us managed to drop our spindle or get big lumpy things in the yarn. After some stretches to ease out any muscle tension (excellent teaching technique there, Sandi – it’s a physical effort, so reminding people to be in tune with their bodies is, to this dancer, absolutely essential) she started packing up our homework bags with this:

fiber.jpg

I have NO idea what all those different fibers are but there are 23 of them (I’ve already got one spun) and I know there’s silk and cotton and I think that darker brown one is camel – at least it smells like it – and mixes of all sorts of stuff. Our homework is to keep spinning through them and make notes about the process.

And here’s what I have done so far:

spindle.jpg

The tan yarn creeping up the spindle is what Lynn started me with; it’s from her own flock, from the one named Karma. I thought that was pretty cool – like the universe is telling me it’s karma that I should learn to spin. At the bottom of the spindle (from the inside but you can’t actually see them) is what I spun from the roving bought in PA (Colonial), then the Corriedale we almost finished last night, and today’s effort so far. This was what I think Sandi called “pencil” roving – kinda twisted already but still very loose, and very different in feel from the Corriedale. This one was coarser, and I think the staple length was pretty long.

I’m not very consistent, but am getting some real satisfaction from just trying to get better. I wonder if I’ll get it all spun before class next week… and once it is all spun, what in the world do I make with it anyway?

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