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

Thoughts On Sweater Knitting - The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Each Week (more or less), I'll share a quick (or sometimes not quick) snippet of what I'm currently working on, no matter how small (or rough) it is. 

A couple of weeks ago, I was farmsitting up at Nan's, and I knew I needed a big project to work on. I'd been eyeballing the Lila pullover for some time, and just needed a sweater's quantity of wool. That's where Nan came in - generously letting me take some luscious White Gum for this sweater (!!). Marlee of Have Company happened to be on the same wave length as I was, so we started our sweaters around the same time and kept each other up-to-date on progress using our lil' hashtag #crosspacificknitclub

 

swatch_lila.JPG

It was a fun and eye-opening process - knitting this sweater, making mistakes, slowly fixing them, seeing Marlee's sweater progress, loving her sweater, suddenly feeling very inferior and slow. It was a process in self-care and weird competitive vibes for sure.

lila_in_progress_1

The anxiety and jealousy vibes I was feeling made me ashamed. I didn't want to feel these things, because knitting a sweater shouldn't invoke those feelings, and Marlee had been nothing but incredible supportive the whole way through (read: ALL the moral support when I was majorly confused about short rows and concerned I'd made a sweater for a giant).

So I stepped back from the sweater for a day or two, mostly because my hands were starting to hurt (early onset arthritis, anyone?), and took a little time to reflect on those feelings. I think they stem from a really deep-seated desire I feel to compete, to be instantly gratified, and get validation on the interwebs. The more I took a hard look at those feelings, the more ridiculous they started to seem. And when I finally verbalised them to a friend, I realised how utterly useless they were. Since I'd gotten my petty feelings out in the open, I could actually move into making this sweater happen, and do it with focus and good intentions. 

lila_complete.JPG


After that, I finished knitting it, was feeling pretty happy with it, and then went to block it (because, ya know, trying to be a "good" knitter"). Then the shit hit the fan because it looked as though it had stretched waaaay out. So there I was, on the bathroom floor scrunching and squeezing and hoping it wasn't 7 sizes too big. And it took over 2 days to dry, so I was a hot mess for 2 days wondering if I'd just made a sweater for a pregnant human. 

Turns out I was overreacting and it was a pretty good fit afterall. 

Lessons learned - try to be less critical of myself when knitting (even if I'm slow AF), trust in the magic of blocking, and trust in the magic of internet friendship and KALs (knit-a-longs) to keep you honest, grounded, and supported. Oh, and grey is remarkably challenging to photograph - that was the other (much less profound) lesson learned.

xx

Ani