For most of my life, I have been a very creative person, always the one who does stuff that other people see and say, "wow! I wish I could do that but I don't have the (insert desired excuse word here-coordination, time, skill, distorted sense of fashion, lack of social propriety...) to do that". And, always, I'd be the one saying, "oh? what? This?! This is EEeeeaasssy! Here...let me show you..." and *poof* many times a new crafter was born. Just ask Monique... I introduced her to the wonderful world of beads and...well....by now she has mostly forgiven me.
I'm here today to tell you there lurks out there a craft so insidious, so alluring, so seductive in its charms that I am powerless before it, unable to tear myself away from its soft siren call, forever yearning to master its fluffy depths yet always denied...Yes! I confess my crafting Waterloo, the Everest of my fiber world, the very thing that has me in the throes of unrequited crafting passion....
Spinning...the mere word conjures up tranquil hours spent by the hearth blythely churning out miles of beautiful handspun yarn. The whisper of the wool as it runs through the fingers, the soft creak of the wheel...ahhh....so peaceful, so harmonious....and about as much like my clumsy attempts as the butt part of a fleece is from a cashmere sweater.
Seriously...I try. I relax. I pre draft my roving...I adjust the chair...I tie on the leader and make sure my tension is good...then it all GOES TERRIBLY WRONG. Or worse yet...I'll muddle through the first part ok...then just when I think, "aha! I CAN do this!", fate intervenes and the yarn breaks or suddenly develops weird kinks from overtwisting or-you get the idea. Many years ago, (having been drawn to the creation of yarn since childhood-see below)I went to an all day spinning class at my favorite LYS. The instructor was so kind, so calm, nay-serene even- such inner peace coming from watching miles of silky roving from happy sheep pour through her hands on its way changing to magically into miles of beautiful handspun yarn-or so I thought
. Looking back on it now, I think her serenity purely derived from infecting the rest of us...like a storybook curse that you avoid by passing it on.
We began the class with learning where wool comes from (sheep generally. This was an introduction class), how to prepare raw fleece (carding, etc), why wool makes yarn (how spinning works), then finally progressing on to the (aptly) named drop spindle. We spindled for most of the morning hours in various stages of grasping the essence of spindling. This part was not all that hard and under our instructor's benevolent gaze most of the class seemed to get the basics of that form down with nary a curse word uttered amongst us. This day would mark, however, the last time I attempted to spin without swearing.
After a short lunch we returned to the classroom to begin the segment that most of us were looking forward to-spinning on a wheel. This was it...my fiber nirvana at last! Soon I could join the ranks of all those ancestors that had come before me gracefully plying the fiber from their compliant sheep into miles of beautiful handspun yarn...Finally I would be permitted to touch a spinning wheel (Story: When I was very small, we would often visit an aunt of mine who kept an antique wheel from my father's grandmother. This wheel was hadn't been used since, well who knows... maybe since the latter years of the 19th century and I found it endlessly fascinating. It was forbidden to touch the Wheel but of course that did not stop me from sneaking out to the front room and working the worn treadle and watching the big wheel turn until I was discovered, scolded and sent out to play with my cousins-thereby setting the scene for my fiber addiction/wheel trauma for life).
We were introduced to our wheels and encouraged to treadle them to our heart's content to learn the feel and watch the parts working in seamless spinning harmony. Then we learned about ratio, speed, spin (z or s) and watched as the instructor effortlessly demonstrated various types of draws for our admiring eyes. I admit mine were glazing over with total creative goddess feminine overload (I was 8 1/2 months pregnant at this point and I won't discount the effect of hormones on this whole process) as I stared at her accomplished hands guiding the fiber to its destiny. Then it was our turn to answer the call of the sheep. I have really no memory of the rest of the day (I vaguely recall something about plying...). Hours laterI returned home with a silly grin clutching a spindle and giant dustbunny that I insisted was yarn. Soon I had bought a wheel and...well, remember that part about being pregnant? It would be a few years until I would touch it again. It lived in the garage, no doubt gathering spinning mojo from the massive black widows that kept it company. When I moved, I brought it into my studio room.
After a few weeks of settling in...I decided one day to clean it up, oil it and try spinning again.
I read library books, watched online videos and noted the progress of other neophyte spinners on their blogs...it all seemed so easy. Alas...this now brings me to the present day and the tempestous relationship I have with my wheel. It whispers to me, then mocks me as I try and try and fail to learn its secrets...it keeps me from my knitting. I again and again cast myself on the rocky shore of fiber creation only to lift my head from the sand bloodied and yarnless.
The floor at my feet is littered with scraps of fuzz from starting and stopping, breaking, and overspinning the not-yarn, the un-yarn. Such waste bothers me...I have to give myself permission to ruin this, after all its not like sheep are an endangered species (though if I continue at this rate...they just might be).
Then it occurs to me that I suppose spinning is much like being in love...the real attraction becomes apparent when you let go of your romantic notions and find that the reality is often more beautiful and deeper for the hardships you endure together and effort you put into it. I'll keep you posted.