Friday, September 16, 2011

Because I Need a New Hobby

I only signed up for one workshop at this year's Knit-a-Way Retreat in Little Switzerland.  I know I said in my last post that all I planned to do was sit on a porch, look out at this,

and knit, but the workshop I signed up for didn't call for needles.  Or patterns.  Or yarn.  I suppose we could have met on the porch, but it was quite cold all weekend.  Good thing we were surrounded by wool.

A big, soft, squishy pile of chocolate and gray wool roving, to be exact (I don't know just what kind of sheep it was, but it must have been the softest, squishiest sheep ever).  It took me two days and lots of guidance from instructor Teri Gabric, but I learned how to spin that beautiful roving into...

yarn!  I made yarn!

From the moment Teri sat me down at the wheel I loved spinning.  Now, everything I tell you about the experience must be prefaced by the disclaimer that I now know enough about spinning to know that I hardly know anything at all.  Except that I love it...

The wheel I used was an Ashford Kiwi, easily the most affordable of wheels across a range of the most common brands, and great for beginners.  Of course I've never used any other wheels, but I'd happily work with this one again.  The workshop began with treadling, and as our feet got used to the rhythm, Teri gave us a vocabulary lesson.  I love all the new words!  Flyer.  Scotch Tension.  Treadles.  Maidens.  Footmen.  Bobbin.  Niddy noddy.  Mother of All.

The hardest part for me was getting the wheel going in the right direction (to the right to spin, to the left to ply), and it's still a little bit of a mystery to me how I got it to go at all.

The other hardest part was finding the balance between holding on to the roving and letting it go, pulling it apart and spinning it together, making it twist and making it not twist too much...There will surely be a "preach one" post about the theological implications of spinning one of these days.

The other hardest part (there were lots of hard parts, but I still loved it!) was stopping.  I mean, I wanted to keep spinning and spinning and spinning, but all good workshops come to an end.  My new yarn has been resting, and all that is left to do is soak it and block it, which may take out a little of the overtwist I spun into it.  Thank you, Teri, for your patience and instruction!

By the way, Teri and I weren't the only ones spinning in Little Switzerland this weekend...

Photos with watermark "Robert Kanavel" were taken by Robert Kanavel, spouse of one of my new favorite knitting friends!  Thanks for letting me use your photos, Rob!


Julie Nolte Owen said...

envious! I want to see and feel your yarn.

Wool Free and Lovin' Knit said...

Sounds like you have a lot of fun -- will you be buying a spinning wheel soon?

Jim Melnyk said...

Hey Jen - great story - wish we could have popped over to see you.