Blog

Spinning Class

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Thanksgiving with family was nice. Traditional (plus Norwegian) food served with love, gobbled with loved ones. Crisp air and an annual post-feast football game in the backyard. Loud conversations where uncles retell classic family stories and the younger generation learns to speak our dialect of sarcasm. A full day. Filled with family.

But guess what I got to do the day after?! I dragged my mom to an artist’s cottage to learn how to spin wool. It was a spinning class. (My kind of spinning class.)

I’ve had my eye on spinning for a little while now. Spinning is the process of twisting loose wool fibers into yarn. For me it’s the next frontier of wool. I’ve done the knittingdyeingfeltingweaving thing so spinning just makes sense. (I don’t have a passion for spinning. I’ll be honest: of all the projects that I have in queue, spinning is near the bottom. But I want a working understanding of all craft processes – especially with fiber – just so I’m not artistically limited. I have an irrational fear that someday someone will hand me a fluff of wool and I won’t know what to do with it. Shudder.)

There are lots of different methods of spinning, and as far as I can tell: they all have a steep learning curve. A few weeks ago I bought a dinky little drop spindle at a wool festival. A drop spindle looks like a tall top, like the ones we used to spin as kids. The concept of spinning on a drop spindle is that you attach the fluff of wool to the spindle and then spin the spindle so the wool twists into a long skinny fiber (yarn!). That’s the concept. Now to get it right.

My first attempts at spinning handed me those terribly humbling, exasperating moments of frustration and ineptitude. Moments when the only thought in my head is a one-word expletive. (And I don’t think I even need to say it, but such moments are made way worse when I’m tangled up in yarn like a kitten on a too-cute kiddy greeting card.) I wanted to throw the spindle across the room and say, “This is stupid! Who wants to spin yarn anyway?!” In real life, such trials foster one’s character. But sitting there in that studio, feeling like I shouldn’t legally be allowed within twenty feet of wool simply fostered my desire for a mid-morning cocktail.

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"Charming" Handspun Yarn (by me)

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Exquisite Handspun Yarn (by somebody else)

Did I finally get the hang of spinning? No. Will I keep at it? Yes. From what I understand, there is a point when the spinner doesn’t even think about tension, or drafting or any single aspect of spinning wool. It becomes second-nature. I envy this nameless every-spinner who spins skeins and skeins of knittable yarn. But the goal of effortlessly spun yarn is out there. And I want it.

I’m including a rare photo of me (above, top of the page). You can see my ever-present dumb look (I’ve got a dumb look that just won’t quit) as I try to manage the different aspects of spinning. Maybe someday I’ll dedicate a post to the serene joy of effortless spinning, with a picture of me looking like a docile hausfrau peacefully spinning wool in the corner of drafty cabin.

Eh. Maybe not.