Friday, December 2, 2011

Last of Kid 'N Ewe... spinning classes.

Oh my goodness, is it December already? Okay, quick wrap up of Kid N Ewe, and then back to knitting.

On Sunday I got up fairly early, made even more early by having spent the previous night at Wurstfest, and headed back into Boerne. I got there just in time to pull out my wheel and set up at the Spinner’s Workshop.
This is not my wheel, but it's pretty.
I mentioned having hurt my shoulder from spinning too much, which distressed the teacher to no end. She insisted that I learn how to do the long draw drafting method. As it was one of the many things I’d been looking to learn, I was not opposed to the idea. So I spent the class practicing the long draw, and spinning with different fibers. I had the most success not reverting to the short forward draw when I was using merino. She said that, while I am still perfecting my long draw, I should use the best prepared fibers I have because then I can focus on technique.

Fiber I brought and wanted to try out.
Of the different fibers we tried, the sari silk and the flax left the biggest impression. I carded and spun some of the sari silk I’d bought months ago. It had scared me, I loved the colors but I was afraid of messing it up. Being in a class setting gave me the courage to give it a try. Spinning flax, which once spun is called linen, was very different from anything I’d tried before. You spin flax wet, which kind of blows my mind. Spun dry it’s really hairy; spun wet it’s not nearly as fuzzy and much stronger. The class covered how flax is made but, while it was interesting, the earliness of the hour had an affect on my retention.  It's from a plant. We'll leave it at that.

After class I had a quick bite to eat then headed back for my last class of Kid N Ewe, Spinning with Cotton. We were greeted with a bag of goodies, a tahkli spindle, and a bowl or glass of some sort.
Bag o' cotton and little bitty spindle.
In our bag of tricks we had a bunch of different types of cotton: ginned fiber, sliver, punis, boll cotton, and even a cotton ball. We learned about the difference between cotton and wool cards, the different types of colored cotton, how to plant and take care of cotton plants, and how to spin using the tahkli spindle.

The tahkli is a supported spindle; you attach a leader, set it in a bowl and spin it like a top. It feels different from a drop spindle because instead of holding the fiber and pulling downward with gravity, you pull up and away from the spindle. Unlike a wheel or a drop spindle, the only pull on the fiber is the spinner. This causes a tendency to over spin, which is helpful with such a short staple length.

I love how small and portable the tahkli is, and when I got back to Austin I spun on it for quite a while. By the third day of spinning, my left wrist was telling me to take a break. Like any other spinning that I’ve obsessed over, you can hurt yourself if you do it for too long. I’ve backed off but I already have a few baby skeins.
Aren't they cute?
As much as I love the portability, it is still a spindle and my wheel is just so much faster. I may try spinning cotton on my wheel again, but not until after Christmas. I’ve been neglecting my gift knitting and if I want to get any done I'll have to set the spinning aside. Yarn Harlot has a post that perfectly explains the gift knitter's motivation. It also happens to include what to get a knitter. (Hint: more yarn is always better.) So I’m off to go work on that baby blanket. But if it’s not done by the end of next week, I'm setting it aside until after Christmas. The baby isn’t due till February, and I’m hoping it's not in a hurry to be born. I’m knitting as fast as I can.


Erin said...

I'm going to be really honest and admit that when I first started reading Yarn Harlot's post about gift knitters, I was a little annoyed. There is some division she's trying to create between "regular" people and "gift knitters" in which it seems as though the gift knitters are somehow more special and thoughtful than "regular" people.

HOWEVER, when she started talking about how the gift knitter feels as though there is no choice in the matter, and that "Sure as a nightingale has to sing, a gift knitter must knit..." I could relate. See, I, as someone who also likes to make things by hand (even if it's not knitted), know what it is to put so much time and love and every bit of yourself into something you make for someone else.

I also know that no one will ever know how many hours I spend tweaking that one font or hand cutting that cardstock because I couldn't find the perfect size and my paper cutter broke or editing that one photo I wanted to print for a thing I was making because it has to be just so (in paint or word, mind you, because I don't have photoshop) or whatever. Also, I'll never ever admit how long it takes me to do any of those things because frankly it's embarrassing.

But the point is, I can see what she's saying. That we do these things that no one will ever understand and we are compelled to do so for reasons unknown even to us. And even if Yarn Harlot doesn't realize that maybe others create things just as time consuming as she does, I've learned that the fact of the matter is it doesn't matter if anyone realizes or appreciates how long it takes us to do any of the things we do because we do them out of love. And if one is really creating out of love, that makes it all worth it.

MaryAnne said...

Love Erin's comment.

Your baby skeins are super cute! The spinning looks beautiful, too.