Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Dark Side

I'm learning to spin. It's WonderMike's fault. He just looked so cool, so happy, standing there at Sock Summit, roving draped around his neck, making beautiful yarn. It wasn't a chore; it was an enjoyable pasttime, something to do with his hands while he chatted and laughed with passers-by.

I've actively resisted spinning. Yes, the spindles were pretty. Yes, the handspun was beautiful. But no, I didn't need to do it myself. I am perfectly happy letting others raise the sheep, sheer the wool, clean it, dye it, spin it. I like being further up this food chain: buying the yarn and knitting it into something nice.

But stupid WonderMike had to open the door, and Abby Franquemont slipped in, with her engaging and witty Ravelry persona and her terrific Intro to Spinning video on YouTube. Her simple explanation -- spinning is just pulling apart fiber and twisting it so it holds together; use a stick to hold the yarn and make things go faster -- was irresistible to me. And her book! Oh my god, her book. I love a funny, smart woman talking to me about the physics of yarn. And she blew my mind by pointing out that spindles are responsible for nearly all human textile production up until about 400 years ago.

So a week ago, I took a class.

I'm not very good, but I don't expect to be. Abby (and others) argue that learning to spin involves developing muscle memory, and that if I keep practicing a little each day, I'll get it in about a month or two.

The result so far:

That's what became of the roving I got in class. Now I'm getting serious with some dyed combed top that I bought at a local store.

So I'll give it a couple months, working at it every day. If it doesn't click by spring, I'll drop it. And if it does click, I'll probably still drop it: I like to knit things, not make yarn. I'm not interested in owning a wheel. (If I'm buying equipment, I'd rather it was a circular sock machine).

But meanwhile, I think I'm learning a lot about yarn. And I've got an excuse now to look at the spindles at the wool festivals.