On Spinning

Spinning Mojo

After a restful night, it’s a good idea to use some time to transition between sleep and wakefulness. Quiet contemplation or meditation is one way to help the brain and body restore its senses, and put some order to the day. I’m really trying to use this time to get back to my spinning wheel and spend fifteen minutes working some wool through my hands, twisting the soft strands into yarn, working with only the soft morning light of dawn. It takes a few minutes for my hands and feet to wake up, but once that happens I can sit peacefully and allow the process of pedaling, drafting, and feeding to turn into a meditative rhythm.

Spinning Mojo

Spinning wool, flax, cotton or silk into yarn is something that humanity has been doing for many thousands of years. And, not until organized groups of workers in the 18th century came up with methods of mass production, families relied on each other to create yarn and string for use in clothing and textiles. I admit, there is no way I would be able to spin enough wool and cotton to be able to clothe even just myself, let alone my family. But, the process continues to instill in me the wonder that comes from taking such a raw material as wool and working it into something that can, in turn, be knit or woven into a garment. So, even though humanity has gained a lot more time to do other more economically fruitful things by not having to spin, we’ve also lost the joy and pride that comes with being able to custom-make garments for ourselves and loved ones.

Spinning Mojo

These days there are so many great places to find wool to spin, it’s a way to connect with wool producers and get that much closer to the source of what goes into making knit garments and goods. Admittedly, these last few years I’ve slowed down on my spinning ritual, and my collection (or stash) is still fairly significant, so I have given myself a year or so to work through the excess before I go out seeking new fiber. This particular batch is some merino (what I call fun fiber) to help me get back into the saddle, and to loosen up the cobwebs in the “drafting” area of my brain. It’s not a perfect skein, but like riding a bike, I’m sure the actions will become a little more fluid like they used to be.

Spinning Mojo

Wool and Oranges

Dan’s needle felting business has been keeping him pretty busy for some time, but I am happy to report that he has been able to find a little time for spinning again. He has been using it a bit like a meditation I think, 15 minutes with his coffee in the morning, before the world wakes up. Here is his first skein of the year.

Handspun Yarn

I love these little daily practices, and I had a good one last year that I’ll show you in another post. I haven’t found one for 2015 yet. I have some ideas, nothing has solidified yet.

Kieran Foley Test Knit

I have been knitting a lot of scarves/shawls lately. At the moment I’m having a blast test knitting this fun one for Kieran Foley (pictured above). I finally finished this one I started back in October. There is some secret knitting going on as well, stay tuned!

Handknit Shawl

This weekend brought a bit of a winter thaw to our corner of the world, but mostly January has been so cold all we have wanted to do is stay in, cook soups and other comfort foods and stay warm. I hope you are staying warm and finding pleasure in the season, at least the citrus fruit has been great, hasn’t it?

Winter Citrus

Fiber Haul

We had the pleasure of making our way to the annual Sheherd’s Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival this past weekend. I thought about taking pictures of the festivities and animals, but I’ve already done that and, really, how many sheep photos does one need? Of course, what I’m about to show you presents the same question – how many photos of fiber and wool does one need? Apparently, not enough:

Fiber Haul

This sea of wool contains two fibers I have never spun before, and am looking forward to making some yarn out of them. The top left bowl of white, cloudy happiness is 100% angora – the kind of fiber that, when touched, just feels like pure warmth as opposed to anything tangible. The same can almost be said about the bottom left bundle. That’s 100% yak down. All in all, though, I feel I was a bit restrained, and that’s mostly due to the fact that I’m still working on piles of fiber from festivals past.

So, here’s to another year behind the wheel!

Spin and Spring

I’ve finished a few more spinning projects and thought I’d share them, matching them with a corresponding early Spring photo from our yard.

Handspun Wool/Alpaca/Silk
Emerging Spring - Wild Ginger

Approximately 835 yards of 2-ply yarn, spun from about 18 oz. of alpaca, silk and wool fiber. I’ve matched it with some delicate wild ginger coming up through some rocks.

Handspun Fairy Blend
Emerging Spring - Moss

The sparkly bits in this luxurious blend of alpaca, bison, wool, ramie and tencel remind me of the wee shoots of new growth on a patch of moss. I spun approximately 170 yards of 2-ply yarn from 2 oz. of fiber.

Handspun Alpaca & Silk
Emerging Spring - Hepatica

And, this 70/30 blend of alpaca and silk, spun from 4 oz. of fiber and yielding 190 yards of 2-ply yarn, is paired with one of the first flowers of Spring (at least in our yard) – Hepatica.

Apart from some stubbornly cold temperatures, I think it’s safe to say the spell of Winter has been broken.

Spin, Spun… Span?

Now that I’ve started to make spinning a more regular part of my routine again, it’s finally time to share some of the finished yarn that I’ve spun in the last couple of weeks. It’s been fun mixing up the types of fibers, the colors, the amounts, feeling my hands and feet work  together in the old familiar rhythm.

These first two projects are from fiber sent to me by Ted. (Thank you!) A cozy 50/50 blend of merino and yak, this fiber was dyed a rich, deep, wine color that is hard to capture digitally.

Handspun Merino & Yak

There are approximately 290 yards of 2-ply yarn, spun from about 4.2 oz of fiber. I see a new scarf for next season – something I hope I won’t have to wear for a good long while, but when the time comes, I’ll be ready (and my neck will be nicely wrapped).

This next skein is another interesting blend of merino and tencel. Tencel gives the yarn a silky drape, but the wool adds some loft and warmth. There are approximately 295 yards of 2-ply yarn, spun from about 4 oz. of fiber.

Handspun Merino & Tencel

Speaking of exciting packages, delivered to our doorstep was last month’s installment of Hello Yarn fiber. Adrian always has such an amazing way with color, and “Scorch” was no exception.

Scorch Spun Up

Scorch Spun Up

This is from 4 oz. of Bluefaced Leicester, spun and navajo-plied to approximately 340 yards. Virginia has already started on a pair of socks, so those will be making an appearance in the not-too-distant future.

Tonight, while a loaf of bread rises in the kitchen, a whirl (and clack) will be heard emanating from the living room. Hope your Friday night is as exciting as mine.