Thoughts On Spinning (From A Spinning Newbie)

first attempt at spinning

first attempt at spinning

You know when you discover something and you're like "how did I not know about this before? what was I doing all this time? my world is completely changed." This happens to me on a fairly regular basis - some examples I can think of - bringing my bicycle to college and being able to cycle around The Bay, buying garlic Persian fetta and putting it in salad, and most recently - spinning. Clearly I am easily pleased/my life is easily improved. 

first tiny baby skein of hanspun

first tiny baby skein of hanspun

Spinning has my head, well, spinning - with ideas of what I can make, ways I can get more creative/have more control over the things I make. My mind feels like tons of tiny little lights are twinkling at once - or something like that. The plying possibilities- the spinning possibilities, the fibre I can source, the learning the thing. It's all so damn exciting. 

spinning attempt #2 - mid Andean Bracelet Making attempt

spinning attempt #2 - mid Andean Bracelet Making attempt

Thinking of trying spinning? Here are some thoughts I have/things I've learnt (but take this all with a grain of salt, because I am clearly no expert) 

  • See if there is a local spinning guild you can check outMine has been a ridiculously amazing resource and community. It has a library of tools- and I was even able to loan a drop spindle so I didn't have to buy one outright! In all likelihood, there's one in your area and the people there are the best people in the world (cuz, the fibre community, amirite?) 
  • Try starting on a drop spindle - they're cheap, portable, and that makes it easier to get started, I think. That way you can easily start without a lot of upfront cost, and you can do it wherever. If you're anything like me, you'll be so stoked that you will take it with you everywhere- to the park for your lunch break, to the farmers market, etc
  • If you do start on a drop spindle - try the "park and draft" method first, just to get your bearings. You start by sitting down and over-spinning so that you don't have to do the downward motion + draft (aka pull the fibre through your fingers) at the same time. Here's a video that might help get you started.
  • If you have long hair, tie it up before you start, or you might spin your hair into it.... (not that i did this or anything) 
  • Speaking of hair ties, have a couple on hand, they're really useful for tucking the excess fibre into on your left wrist so that you don't accidentally get too much fibre all mixed up in your work before you're ready to draft it.
  • Get some roving if you can, it's a little easier to work with than a raw fleece (at least for me so far) and there's minimal processing that you need to do before you can start working with it. 
  • Try not to have clammy hands - I've felted some bits of my wool because I have perpetually clammy hands- I've not worked out a fix for this yet.... I'll update this if I get any advice on this. 
  • Want to Ply? Look up: Andean Plying Bracelet for a simple way to get the fibre off your hand and plied! I think it's pretty amazing that you can make a plied yarn  with nothing but your hands and the drop spindle. 
  • Just start! It doesn't even matter if it's lumpy and weird and over-plied. It'll all work out. Wash your skeins when you're done, and that'll help even that shit out. 

I'm thoroughly loving spinning - and I'm not seeing this love/obsession changing at any point. If you want to get started and need a hand, I'm happy to help! I can try giving a lesson over skype (or in person, if you're Aus based!) and I'll do my best to help you out. Shoot me an email at hello@closeknit.com.au if you wanna chat spinning :)

xx

Ani

What's on My Needles (Or Rather, What Isn't) - 17th Dec 2015

Each Week, I'll share a quick snippet of what I'm currently working on, no matter how small (or rough) it is. 

naturally_dyed_patchwork_pillow

Once again, I find myself with a lack of knitting project progress to share here, mostly because I'm trying to rest my wrists, but also because I've been struggling to motivate myself to knit. Does anyone else find that when they take a hiatus from knitting the urge to knit begins to subside a bit? Maybe that's just me. I find it a bit sad - I love that bizarre urge I have to knit the majority of the time, it makes me feel a bit empty when it's not there. 

Now, to explain this week's "What's On My Needles (Or Rather, What Isn't)"  or alternatively, "What Was Previously on my Needle(s) and Now Is Gone". I started working on this little patchwork pillow thing a couple of weeks ago, rather improvisationally, because I don't know what the hell I'm doing, so I'm just making it up, and I clearly don't have the patience to make a pattern or anything like that. I basically just started sewing pieces together and adding more on as I went, more or less keeping a straight line of fabric at the top and thinking it would roughly be the shape of a pillowcase. 

I decided after doing the bulk of the sewing on a machine, courtesy of the babes over at Bobbin and Ink (the communal sewing space where I rent a machine, and get lots of kind feedback and help, even when I've totally screwed something up), I would do some of the final sewing by hand in the park. So I popped it all in my handy little Field Bag - needles, thread, pins, and headed over to the park. I sewed in the sun with This American Life playing in the background, it was all a very nice affair. 

Now somehow, I woke up yesterday morning and it's nowhere to be found. I scoured my room, scoured the friend's house we went to after dinner that night, nowhere. And I got really bummed out; this little project - a practice of improvisation, trying not to give a f**k that the seams were wonky, a practice in being patient and kind to myself- was abruptly ended. I never got to see it fully formed, as a pillow, never got to show it off as one of my first sewn pieces - "that I hand dyed with avocado pits and skins and other plant materials!" (I hear myself exclaiming that)

At first I just felt sorry for myself, then I began resenting that feeling, that such a simple and silly object could make me sad. It made me think of all the unnecessary want and greed that comes with owning things, the consumerist mindset that I think can even be applied to objects you make yourself. The more I think about it, though, the more I think it's not so much the loss of the object, but of what the pieces represented - the newly formed friendship with Laura, who let me into her home after meeting me once, made me delicious snacks, and let me dye this old ripped up pillowcase with her, the kindness of the ladies at Bobbin and Ink, forever practicing patience with me, even when I've followed none of the sewing rules and made a huge mess, the excitement of a sewn object becoming a part of my "fibre arts" repertoire. The half-finished pillowcase was a representation of many good things that have come into my life recently, of the luck I've had with finding such incredible people, and the gratitude I have for them. 

Maybe the picture here is enough to remember what it meant, maybe the act of writing this out did just that. And maybe, just maybe, some nice fibre artist will find it on the street and give it some much needed love. 

xx

Ani