The article below was featured in my December 6, 2021, e‑mail newsletter. To subscribe to the newsletter, please use my contact form.
A couple of summers ago, I went to Santa Fe with a good friend. On the way home, we stopped at the Mora Valley Mill and I bought two pounds of roving. (Roving is a type of fiber preparation.) I decided on two pounds because it seemed like enough to make something with. When I started spinning the fiber, I didn’t have a specific idea of what to make with it. Actually, I’m still not sure. After a while, I decided that I would make it part of my morning routine to spin a length of the roving. At first the quality of my spinning was pretty rough—lots of thick and thin spots, and some spots that were over-twisted. I tried a few different approaches just for fun. Somewhere along the way, it got easier, and more consistent. I noticed when I skeined the wool that it looked and felt more even, and I liked the way it looked. I’m not sure exactly what happened or how. I suspect that my eyes and my hands were learning along the way. They got smarter. I held my hands a little farther apart, and somehow that meant the fiber drafted out more smoothly, instead of in fits and spurts. I didn’t think about it; I just started doing it that way, and then noticed that I’d changed something.
I’ve been a spinner for a very long time, but I don’t think I’ve ever spun two pounds of the same batch of fiber. There’s something to be said for working with the same materials on a regular basis over a length of time. For me, it was especially nice that I didn’t have anything particular in mind. The fiber wasn’t so precious that it had to be perfect or special. It could just be whatever it turned out to be. Early on, I knit a little sample and I liked the softness of the yarn. That was encouraging—this might be a nice yarn. And it was delightful to just play with it. Sometimes mindlessly, sometimes paying particular attention to exactly how I was handling it.
And now, it’s all spun. The next step will be to ply it into a two- or three-ply yarn. Maybe I’ll do a few little sample skeins to see which I prefer.
I’ve been making a lot of stuff lately. And it’s been fun. It’s been especially fun to recognize how much I’ve learned about working with various fiber techniques. I’ve been a bit of a dabbler. Spinning, weaving, felting, knitting, sewing, dyeing, embroidery… I’m probably not really a dabbler. I’ve studied many of these techniques in depth. With each technique, I wanted to learn the correct way to do it, and I’d sometimes save the good materials until I was worthy of using them. Now, it’s been really fun to acknowledge that I know enough. Enough for now. Enough to play with what I’ve got on hand. And when I don’t know enough, there’s always google and youtube and wonderful friends with great expertise.
All this is a very long way of saying that it’s fun to keep on learning, and it’s satisfying to know that I know enough for now.