Sunday, August 2, 2009

Re-becoming a Spinner

WAY back in 1983, I took a handspinning class, offered by my town's adult education program, at the local high school. I'd been married for less than a year, we had no children yet, and I wanted to learn how to create my own yarn (I'd been avidly knitting for several years). After the class was done, I bit the bullet and bought myself a Louet S15 wheel - one of the easiest to use and least expensive wheels available at that time. A small drum carder, handcards, and a niddy-noddy rounded out my basic equipment needs. I joined a local spinning group, and I was on my way.

I spun a lot of wool way back then; nothing fancy, just 2-ply BULKY. I experimented a bit with dyeing wool, but never went beyond solid colors. I used the yarn I spun to knit simple baby sweaters, giving most away to friends but also selling some to a local baby boutique.

Our first son, Abe, was born in August of 1986. I spun, dyed, and knitted a couple of tiny baby sweaters for him, but found that I had less and less time to spin, as he grew and started moving around on his own. Little fingers seem to be drawn to flywheels!!! I put my wheel away, and focused exclusively on knitting. I missed making my own yarn, but toddlers and spinning wheels don't mix.

Stuart was born in October of 1988. The wheel stayed in the closet. The drumcarder was sold - for $50 - fool that I am!!! Little did I know just how much a new one would cost 20 years down the road.... But I held on to the wheel.

So, twenty-plus years flew by. I brought out my wheel from time to time, but I'd somehow convinced myself that I really didn't know enough about spinning to produce a decent, balanced yarn, so I'd always give up after a few half-hearted tries. Believe it or not, the last time I tried (5 years ago?) I'd actually forgotten that yarn needs to be plied in order to be balanced - I tried to knit up a single into a vest - disaster!

What got me going again? This past April, I took a drop-spindle spinning class during "Ewephoric Weekend", a 2-day knitters' workshop hosted by Marji's Yarncrafts in Granby, Connecticut. The class was a blast! Jackie, the teacher, was patient and helpful, and, most of all, encouraging. During the class I spun up some pathetic lumpy yarn, and made plans to meet with Jackie to take a look at my wheel.

That's all it took. I spun up some very old roving - it was dry but spinnable - into some heavy worsted. Now I'm spinning every day, and have hopes of becoming an accomplished spinner.

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