Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dat was mijn bedoeling

Let's go back in time a bit: you may remember that last January I attended a spinning course here in Belgium. The course lasted for eight hours or so, including a coffee and a lunch break, plus some theory about colour combination. I was never happy with the "yarn"
I produced there, and since I'm a person who hates not to be able to do something, I knew I just had to return there and/or have some practice at home. Well, during the summer I bought some drop spindles and some wool rovings, but even though I've given those some time and effort, the result wasn't satisfactory...or to be precise, I didn't know exactly what was the purpose; how the yarn should look like, was there enought or too much twist and so on. The questions were endless. So, after returning from summer holiday, I checked the course schedule and found out that there was another beginners' course in mid-September.

So, there I was again last Saturday, sorting raw wool, testing a brand new Louët S10 spinning wheel with my fingers and toes and then the race was on. I didn't know I was such a bad actress - it didn't take long before the teacher sent me upstairs to her wool stash: "you don't look happy, you should work with colours, go on upstairs and prepare yourself a colourful batt". Didn't need a second command, up I went and just let loose. Came back downstairs with a similar colour combination that I'd worked with in January, just in order to see whether I'd made any progress during the past few months. Of course, I tried to create a similar effect, and I had just let a huge lump pass. When the teacher saw it, she just ran to me, giving instructions, but I had an explanation ready: I did that on purpose! [dat was mijn bedoeling] -- It was a hot day and handling wool wasn't the best way of keeping cool, neither the fact that no matter how hard you tried, the wool just wouldn't obey you. So, in order to cool off every now and then, I disappeared upstairs to prepare some more wool. And while I was up there, I thought that it was much more beneficial on the whole, carding the wool instead of just spinning it. I could always do hand spinning at home but I don't have a large carder here...and I really carded to my heart's content.

Then it was time to learn to ply. I'd missed that the first time, probably because I didn't feel I had enough of yarn as it was, not to mention that the yardage would have been halved. And whatever I'd spun by myself at home, I'd never tried to ply because I was afraid I'd ruin the yarn somehow. So, I waited for some kind of exact explanations and magic tricks that would make my yarn perfect. Right. Dream on.

So, what have I learned so far?
- I can't decide whether I'm a perfectionist who wants to create thin even yarn and just can't give up before that happens, or is it so that the Grande Artiste inside of me wants to do things her own way, big, bold and colourful
- the smell of wool and sheep doesn't make me happy. It makes me nauseous.
- I still can't understand why I spend so much time, money and energy on something which doesn't really give me any pleasure. Every time I start to spin, I feel I'm going to work. Or actually, I'd rather go to work than pick up the spindle. That's not how it should be, is it?

This is last Saturday's result: if I'm trying to find something positive to say, it does look like Colinette's Graffiti (just a little bit). On the left a ball of yarn spun and plied with a spinning wheel; on the right, the mongrel spun 50 % with spinning wheel, 50 % with drop spindle, plied using a drop spindle.

My first 100% handspun yarn, both spun and plied with a drop spindle. My baby "Jester". Quite - ahum - vibrant colours, but when I had just bought my first spindles, I just had to grab the first merino wool I could get my hands on.

May I present a couple of books which have helped me through this journey (and they would have helped even more, had I found them earlier and read them before starting spinning).

Hands on Spinning by Lee Raven, ISBN 0934026270. 120 pages, some colour photos, mostly black and white drawings, though. Basic instructions, not too much to read (and I'm saying this in positive sense: read the first chapters and you're ready to go, read more as you make progress. Starts really from the basics: how to try spinning with a hook, then hand spindle... processing your first yarn. Then we move on to wpinning wheels, drafting and spinning techniques, plying and yarn finishing. There are hints for shopping for a wheel as well as taking care of it, and when you've finally produced some yarn, there are seven ideas/instructions for the yarn you've made.

The Yarn Book by Penny Walsh represents the other end of the range. The cover says: "The books are aimed at the student or the practised artist who is experimenting in a new area". Well, I'm neither, but bought the book anyway. Its size makes it perfect to keep in a handbag and read on the metro when you're squeezed in a corner and can't knit.

There are 128 pages and six chapters, heavily concentrating on the history of spinning around the globe. While the book doesn't give too many hands-on instructions on how to make a specific type of yarn, there are some delicious photos and clarifying drawings. I just wish there were more of those and not, for instance, the molecule chain of polymers. ISBN 0713669551.

Spinning-related links - where to buy wool, history of spinning... and the inevidable alpacas, too.

Weavers, Spinners, Dyers (check the links!)
The Devon Goat company
Handspin uk
Shetland Wool Brokers
Meon Valley alpacas
Moondance wools
P&M Woolcraft
Coldharbour Mill
Apple Hollow Farm - sells soy silk fiber, among other things
Woolery - and don't say I didn't warn you! If you have any doubts about your self control, do not visit this web page. What a selection of spindles...
Sue Hiley Harris


juuli said...

It was colorful enough without any photos at all!
When in doubt, leave it out. I've successfully applied it to dressing, cooking and crafts. But to spinning? Heck, no!

Stricker said...

Musta nuo sun lankasi ovat tosi kauniita, ihan minun näköisiä ja värisia! Onnittelut! Mulla meinaa olla vähän saman tyylistä rimakauhua ja täydellisyydentavoittelun pelkoa värttinän kanssa, enkä ole vielä sen ensimmäisen epäonnistuneen kerran jälkeen uskaltanut ja kerinnyt kokeilla uudestaan. Pitäisi varmaan saada joku neuvomaan kädestä pitäen, miten homma tehdään. Muutenkin tuntuu, että aika ei riitä mihinkään ja tekisi mieli tehdä tuhatta eri asiaa samanaikaisesti ja se ei kyllä onnistu. Tällä hetkellä eniten kiinnostaa ompelu ja kirjonta, mutta langat ja villat huutelevat koko ajan laatikoista ja printattujen ohjeitten määrä vaan kasvaa kasvamistaan. Eikä käsityöt kyllä auta yhtään painonpudotuksessa ja kunnonkohotuksessa, jotka ovat muuten tärkeitä hyvinvoinnille :-).

Stricker said...

Ai niin, unohtui sanoa, että rukilla kehräys kiinnostaisi aivan mielettömästi ja olen katsellutkin rukkeja jo sillä silmällä, mutta yritän pitää itseni irti niistä, koska kämppä on jo nytkin täynnä mun käsityöharrastusta ja aikapula krooninen :-)

juuli said...

Haa, nyt täällä on jo kuviakin! Ihania lankoja olet saanut aikaiseksi! Nyt en kyllä ymmärrä miksi meinaat, että pitäisikö lopettaa? No ei ihmeessä! Kyllä se siitä, kun aina silloin tällöin kehräät jotain. Taito kasvaa ihan huomaamatta.

AnneV said...

Enhän mä ole nähnyt unta? Eikös vaan ollutkin jossain linkki semmoisille sivuille, missä joku oli kehrännyt lankaan mukaan ihan mitä tahansa, alkaen suunnilleen nuken kappaleista? Missä se oli? Kuka muistaa?

Joo, mä laskeskelin tuossa ittekkin että kehruun aloittamisesta on jotain kaksi kuukautta enkä mä tosiaan oo harrastanut sitä edes joka viikko, saati sitten joka päivä. Mutta kummasti tosiaan ihan alitajuisesti sormet tarttuu noihin kuituihin aivan eri tavalla kuin alussa; jos vaikka yrittää saada aikaan samanlaista lankaa kuin silloin niin ei millään tahdo onnistua.

Ja mulla tää on vaan jonkinlaista eksistentialistista haahuilua. Mä en yleensä pode suuremmin mitään maailmantuskaa, mutta nyt jotenkin kehräämisestä on tulossa semmoinen kahtiajakoinen asia. Haluanko muka pipertää sitä pientä, tasaista ja yksiväristä lankaa vaikka taidot ei riitäkään? Eikä oikein motivaatiokaan... Vai ottaisko oikein kunnon ronskit otteet ja tekis ihan ugaa-lankoja. Voiko luterilainen "ensin työ, sitten huvi" -katsantokanta vaikuttaa jopa kehräämiseen? Opettelet vaan kunnolla tekemään sitä tasaista lankaa ensin ennen kuin rupeat taas sooloilemaan?

(ihan oikeesti, ei neuleet tuota ollenkaan tämmöistä ahistusta)

Stephanie said...

I love your spun yarn! Maybe you have the impression of "working" because it is still not easy for you. I think it comes with practice, or carelessness, like me :o). On which needles did you knit the scarf from the online yarn? You know, the lady rue du Bailli had some of this yarn ;-)

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