I am not talking about the stuff that makes your colon happy either. I am talking about the wonderful things in this world that are made into fiber. Whether it is the wool from sheep, cotton, hemp and linen from plants, angora from rabbits or mohair from goats, the common denominator from all of them is that they provide humanity with the necessary fibers to be made into all types of clothing.
Otherwise we all would be cold and naked. Not a pretty sight I can assure you. Even ancient man knew to cover up with a fig leaf or two, thus saving Eve from running screaming from the Garden of Eden.
Set in amongst my household bathroom renovations sits my sanctuary. A place I can go to at the end of the day to unwind while producing something made from different kinds of fiber, which is either knitting or weaving. I knit mostly with wool, wool/acrylic blends or cotton yarns, heavily favouring the ‘SuperWash’ wools for socks, mittens and scarves for their ease in care and durability. Gone are the days of trying to wash a wool sweater only to experience first-hand a phenomenon called ‘felting’, where you end up with a sweater that after washing now fits your Barbie doll.
So far in my young weaving career, I have been using a thin cotton yarn for dish towels. Strong, yet durable and available in a huge palette of colours, I get to play designer and create my own personal linens that will last longer than any commercially made product. I think that is the best part of taking up weaving, getting to sit down to explore the colour wheel and the many pattern variations that can be attained with a loom. Sure, Bob may look imposing, but he is a very simple medium that with a little instruction, has you happily making your own fabrics for whatever use you can think of.
Now with all this weaving going on and thinking about yarns in general (and my love for them)…I said to myself….hmmmm… I wonder if I could make my own yarn?!
That is when something bit me.
Spinning!! and no, not that stationary bicycle thing that has been an exercise fad that should have passed by now. I am talking about spinning my own yarn. I figure if I love to create/design things *made* from fiber…why don’t I try to make my own fiber?
So I researched a bit, then asked an
enabler friend of mine who I know has some spinning experience for some pointers. She happily thrust a bag into my hand that contained something called ‘roving’ (cleaned and combed sheep’s wool) and a drop spindle. She pulled the drop spindle out, peeled a strip of the roving off the batch, attached it to the existing yarn on the spindle, spun it and voila! Yarn!
Wow…that sure looked easy. I could so do this, no problem. It isn’t rocket science after all, even better, you don’t need a degree in anything to do it.
I was all set. I had a spindle, some wool and I would then be off to making skeins and skeins of beautiful handspun yarn that I could weave and/or knit into lots of wonderful things.
Until I tried it for the first time.
There is an old saying: if you can’t laugh at yourself, then you have no right laughing at anyone else.
Well let me tell you I was doubled over in laughter at my first attempts at spinning. Then I cursed my enabler friend for making it look so easy. Then I vowed to master this new hobby…if it kills me.
Good for you Deb! I also thought it looked so easy when I saw documentaries of women doing their own spinning, walking along, not paying attention to what they were doing and beautiful, perfect yarn being produced. Easy! HAH!
Jack’s mother used to card and spin her own wool, when her first children were born and kept it up until after Jack, her last, was grown up. But she had a spinning wheel. Not the big wheel kind or any spoked-wheel kind but a western-Canadian made “Spin Wheel” from Sifton Manitoba. I looked it up on the internet and although different looking, it made miles and miles of yarn that she turned into hats, scarves, socks, mittens and other items.
A few months ago, Jack’s cousin died and he had the family spinning wheel but Jack’s brother, knowing I like antiques, brought it back to the family home and it now sits proudly by my fireplace, waiting for someone to send it spinning again…..but it won’t be me.
So, the next time you come for a visit, we will have to get us some sheep wool and you will have a job while we visit with whoever you brought with you. Sounds like a plan, don’t you think? 🙂
Seeing your spinning wheel on my last visit last Fall contributed to me being “bitten”. 🙂 I would gladly come and give the family wheel a spin! I know you have sheep across the road…any idea if you could get some raw fleece from the neighbours? Or would they know of anyone in the area that sells it? I may just go the whole route of washing, carding, spinning right from raw fleece 🙂
I just want to say I think it is wonderful that you want to learn to spin! I am impressed by what you do.
Why thank you very much! 🙂 The older I get, it seems I want to get back to how things were done in years gone by. Now I just need to master this new technique 🙂
I’m sorry to say that the sheep across the road have been sold but I may be able to get some raw fleece for you from some people I know that have sheep. I also met a woman that has sheep that have hair-type fleece that doesn’t need shearing but don’t know if it’s any good for spinning. I could ask her.
I’ll get back to you about the wool fleece and about the hair-type fleece.
I just talked to a friend and he will drop off a small bag of white raw wool and a bag of black raw wool the next time he passes our road. (He lives on the other side of town)
He also told me that the people a few miles away, that used to own and run the Belle Vallee Wool Mill, that burned down, still keep their hand at spinning etc and if asked, the woman would probably help anyone in the art of spinning, carding etc.
He also told me the local Country Store, run by Mennonites, has supplies people need to card their own wool. I never looked for those things while there but the next time I go, I will check them out.
The bags of raw wool he has haven’t been cleaned but he will try and give, (he did say give), you wool that will be as clean as he can get it.
So, now that we have things lined up, all we need is a visit from the person that will be doing the work.
Anytime, Deb 😉
Oh my goodness Lydia! That is fantastic! Tell him thank you very much! I will plan a trip up in the next month or so now that the weather is finally nicer. YAY! 🙂
You simply amaze me.
Why thank you my dear! 😉