My Head Is Spinning

October marked my one-year anniversary as a wheel spinner, as followers of this blog may recall.  It was at Rhinebeck last year that SP purchased my lovely Lulu as an early Christmas gift, and she has been the kind of gift that keeps on giving.  I spun happily through the winter and spring, but when the hot weather set in, the garden, then the canning, began to take up more and more of my time.  Lulu sat lonely, by the piano ( possibly THE loneliest creature in the house), for several weeks, while I attended to these matters.  After all, I reasoned at the time, we DID budget the garden into this year’s groceries, better use as much as we can, now AND later…

At the start of September, the older kids went back to school (briefly, but that’s another story…)and I sat down at Lulu feeling like I had completely forgotten how to use her.  On a visit to Harford, Pennsylvania, to attend the Endless Mountains Fiber Festival mid-month, I obtained some new spinning Fiber, and realized the stuff I still had on hand was partially felted, which explained the trouble I was having spinning it.  With new materials, Lulu and I were once again moving along nicely on our Fiber adventure.  I decided that although I did not feel comfortable enough as a spinner to commit to Spinzilla quite yet, I would take that first week to spin as much as I could, and devote the rest of the month to becoming a better spinner.  In addition to the Harford haul, I added to my stash by ordering a full pound of undyed American wool roving from Etsy shop FiberFeltnMore, and scoured my local bookstore and the Nook eBook app for books on spinning.

There weren’t many, and I was forced to seek out alternate sources for information on the craft of spinning fiber.

I am currently reading two books on spinning, courtesy of my renewed relationship with our local library.

The first is a classic on the art, “The Joy Of Spinning”, by Marilyn Kluger.  Published the year I was born, it focuses on the history and traditions of creating yarn, as well as the author’s own journey as a spinner.  It gives wonderful advice on making smooth, even, classic-style yarns, the kind favored by past generations to create all kinds of knitted and woven fabrics.  The copy I am reading appears to be a first edition, and I am enjoying it greatly, with all of its vintage appeal.  Of course, the resources section lists vendors and repair people no longer in business, and I do not see even one of the current wheel and spindle makers listed.  The fact of this starkly points out to me how much of a spinning renaissance has taken place in my own lifetime, and the debt of gratitude we modern spinners owe those of the ” hippie” generation like Kluger, who had to travel far and wide to obtain what they needed to resurrect this lovely art, that up until that point was very nearly lost to Western culture.

The second, published in 2008, may well be considered a classic by future fiber artists.  “Intertwined”, by Lexi Boeger, aka Pluckyfluff, explores the making and uses of yarn as art in and of itself.  Boeger’s book gives examples of extreme yarns created by herself and others, and gives directions for fiber preparation and spinning of the unique creations that fill her book, as well as patterns that utilize the yarns in knitting, crochet, and other techniques.

Spinning my way through Boeger’s book while learning both history and techniques with Kluger has been a truly beautiful experience for me: I’ve spun yarns thick and thin, single and plied, full of texture and add-ins and combed slippery-smooth.  And of course, I went to Rhinebeck, had a great time and replenished my stash with some more gorgeous Fiber from our friends at Weston Hill Farm ( the Spun Honey pictured is a 2 ply I did out of 8 ounces of their mixed roving, love the color…), and got some Merino and dyed Cotswold locks to fool around with from two of the other vendors.

SP nearly fainted at the prices charged at Rhinebeck for spinners’ tools, came home and made me a 2 yard niddy-noddy out of PVC from Lowe’s.  We are now in discussions about how to make a blending board so I can create mixed batts.  All of this Fiber love naturally led me dyeing experiments, and Baby Girl has become my 3 year old assistant Dyer, her favorite medium being Kool Aid.

All of this has taught me that it’s better not to spin in a vacuum, even though I have been working most Sundays, and have not been able to attend the local guild yet.  For moral support, I have joined two Facebook spinners’ groups, and am now getting inspiration from them every time I check my news feed.  All in all, October Spinning Month was, for me, a complete success!

Here’s some glamour shots of my October ” babies”:

Spun honey

Spun honey

Hand dyed rovings

Hand dyed rovings

Experiments in dyeing commercial yarn

Experiments in dyeing commercial yarn

Hand dyed and handspun

Hand dyed and handspun

Traditional techniques with natural wool

Traditional techniques with natural wool

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