06 August 2008

Giving in to my inner fiber geek

I learned to knit 5 years ago. I took a class at the Yarn Barn in July 2003. Obviously, I took to knitting right away. It’s an obsession I cannot ever imagine being without, and one that I hope I can indulge for many, many years to come.

Not long after learning to knit, I remember having a conversation with my aunt about it. At the time, she knew how to crochet, weave, and spin, but not how to knit; spinning was her obsession, much as knitting was mine. I knew nothing about those three crafts, so even though we both had a love of the fiber arts, we couldn’t relate. She would talk about her most recent spinning wheel acquisition (she has several, including a massive antique great wheel), or show me one of her numerous plastic tubs full of fiber, and I just didn’t get the fascination anymore than she could understand my need to use two skinny sticks and thin yarn to loop together a pair of socks.

I had no interest in learning to spin. Other than my aunt, who lives 5 hours away, I didn’t know any spinners. And, at the time, spinning was not as popular as it is now, so I didn’t run into it very often on the knitternet. Slowly, though, I started noticing more and more knitters learning to spin. Every time I encountered a knit blogger's tales of spinning, I generally skipped over those posts and hoped for the knitting content to return.

So, why not jump on that ever widening spinning bandwagon?
  1. I don’t like the often thick-and-thin quality of handspun yarn. My anal retentiveness prefers millspun yarn. The smoother, the better.
  2. I don’t like the often barber pole color effect of plied handspun yarn. I figured there was probably a way to avoid this, but it seemed like the majority of what I saw on the intarwebs had that particular color effect. There are some times when barber pole-ing looks okay to me, but in general I prefer plies of the same color that repeat, either in short repeats or long ones, and hand-painting.
  3. Cost. Do I really need another craft and all of its various paraphernalia taking more of my paychecks and storage space? Especially since spinning wheels are no small expense? I can hardly afford my yarn addiction, much less whatever fiber addiction would surely accompany any acquired spinning skills.
  4. This is the most important reason: I HATE the fact that once you have spun something, you cannot unspin it and redo it. My aforementioned anal retentiveness is manageable in knitting because if I mess up, I can rip back and redo my work. Such is not the case with spinning. If I don't like something that I have spun, too bad – I’m stuck with it.
Late last fall, I started reading a knitblog that had a fair amount of spinning content in it (the late Momma Monkey’s blog – God rest her soul). While I didn’t read much of the text in the spinning-heavy posts, I did stop long enough to look at the pictures. Gigi did lovely work, and seeing her handspun sparked my interest a little. As more and more knitbloggers started spinning and posting about their handspun yarns, I paid a little more attention than I did when my adventures in knitting began 5 years ago.

Maybe I could spin. Nah! I still wasn’t convinced. I mean, what happens if I learn, then produce crappy yarn while I’m learning? My perfectionism hated the thought of all that wasted fiber. And I really couldn’t get past that barber pole thing (I’m sure there’s a better name for it, but I can’t think of one right now).

Still, I kept the idea at the small dark space at the back of my mind. Whenever I would see some handspinning pictures on a blog, I would dust off the thought and ponder learning to spin. But each time, I would put that thought away for another day.

Then, I saw this post. That was it. I was convinced. Seeing that nearly perfectly spun hank of yarn in such lovely even repeats of color was all I needed to decide that I wanted to learn to spin. I’m sure that somewhere in the back of mind, I knew it was possible to handspin yarn that is similar to millspun yarn, I just needed to see it to know for sure. My anal retentiveness be damned. For the first time, I looked at a picture of handspun yarn and thought, “I wanna do that!”

So now my quest has begun. After a couple of months of research, I have decided a couple of things: 1) I don’t want to spin on a spindle, and 2) I want to be able to spin mostly finer weight yarns – nothing thicker than sport weight. I know what wheel I want, and I have started saving the money for it. Instead of doing the impulse buying that has characterized most of my adult financial life, I am going to be responsible and save the money. If all goes well, I may be able to afford the wheel I want by the new year. I won’t say now which one I have my eye on. I’ll save that until after it is purchased.

In a strange coincidence, Rebekkah at Bowerbird Knits is giving away that very skein of her handspun that changed my mind about spinning, in a contest. She wants to know what our creative pursuits will be over the next year. My response is that I plan to learn to spin. More specifically, I want to spin some sock yarn, design a sock pattern, and knit the pattern from my handspun. I would eventually like to buy a whole fleece, process it myself, spin it, and knit myself a shawl, a sweater, or an afghan. But that seems awfully ambitious for a new spinner. Maybe next year.



Blogger weezalana said...

I've never been struck by the spinning bug myself, but I can see why that hank would inspire a person! I'll cheer you on from the sidelines!

11:17 AM  
Blogger kemtee said...

See, I've got two reasons myself: one being I don't have enough time to knit, let alone spin. Two being that my hands sweat too easily, and I'd likely felt the fleece before I got to do anything with it.

But hey, I'm all for watching from the sidelines. I find it fascinating. (Move over, Weez.) Good luck on your quest!!!

6:32 PM  
Blogger IrishgirlieKnits said...

Good for you for saving up for a wheel! Bring on the spinning!

I'm like weezie...never had any desire to spin. But boy that is some pretty handspun!

2:38 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

I wish you success in saving the money for your wheel. I remember researching them and finally deciding on mine. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

4:12 PM  

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