10 March 2014

As the squirrel spins the acorn

Once, in high and far-off times, O best beloved, I was a wee little girl and my parents sent me to an 18th-C themed summer day camp held by a local historic site. There we campers dabbled in various historic crafts, like soap-making, candle-dipping, and spinning on drop spindles.

Spinning did not go particularly well for me. Like most wee children, I had no fine motor skills to speak of, and while I did grasp the basics, let's just say that I also learned that there's more than one reason they're called drop spindles.  I made at most 2 yards of lumpy yarn in that endeavour.

As time passed, I developed fine motor skills and employed them knitting and weaving, but never really thought about trying spinning again. I (still) understood the basics, and had a grasp of the different types of spindles and wheels available, but I preferred to buy pretty yarn from people who enjoyed making it.

Then the Ravellenics came around, and my team began showing off their hand-dyed fleeces and handspun yarns. It is possible that I was temporarily unhinged by all the pretty fibre and went to Etsy to buy a spindle and a small baggie of carded Corriedale fleece before I regained my sanity.

The spindle is what is known as a Turkish spindle. Instead of a circular whorl, it has a double cross-arm that allows you to take the spindle apart.

Being able to dismantle the spindle may sound like it's useful for travel (or even just superfluous) but the real beauty of the design is that, if you wind the cop right, you can take the spindle apart with the yarn still on it and end up with a centre-pull ball of yarn. Even as a non-spinner, I loved Turkish spindles. They're like a party trick.

Corriedale fleece has a long staple and is nicely springy, which makes it a good choice for novice spinners. It's also usually inexpensive, which is also nice for beginners -- you don't feel like you're ruining something expensive as you fumble about making yarn for the first time. You do fumble about, too, even if you have fine motor skills. Spinning on a drop spindle is not hard, exactly, but muscle memory is involved. Your first yarn will be lumpy and uneven. It is very likely that your second will be, too.

So here is my first real yarn:

Natural grey Corriedale fleece (from a ewe named Sierra), spun S, plied Z, lumpy as any lumpy thing you care to name. No, I don't know what I'm going to do with it yet. You only get one first yarn, and I want to do something special with this one.

The Kalevala, Rune XXIV

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...