Exploring the world of fiber, one draft at a time

My posting can be as frequent or infrequent as my spinning, so be as patient as that fiber, sitting in my stash.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A day for one's hobby

How rare it can be, to spend an entire day enjoying one's hobby.

This last Saturday, I did a booth at a local craft fair. I can not avoid the anticipation of sales, when I price and package any item I plan to put in the booth. However, I knew ahead that this craft fair, at a local high school was really not the venue for handspun yarns. I had a few other items too, mostly wreaths, and flower arrangements and a few Christmas ornaments. But the bulk of the items were handspun yarns, in wool or alpaca or angora.

And my spinning wheel, not for sale of course, but as usual a focal point to the booth. I sit and spin, people pass by and either stand and watch, or approach and ask questions. I explain often just how the wheel is making the yarn (no it technically is not thread) or that I am spinning and not weaving, (or as one lady told her child, sewing). I try to give them the amazement I still feel, that all fabrics made before the machinery age started in just this fashion. All fabrics, including the viking sails!

So I spun all day. I filled two bobbins of lace weight singles on my Ashford lace flyer with a soft wool purchased as mill end batts from Jaggerspun yarns. I am not sure what breed of wool they use, but it is merino soft, yet has very little of the merino bounce that I hate. I was very happy with the yarn that it produced. It is slightly off white, and I probably will dye the yarn after I have plied it. I hope to make a lace shawl with the yarn.

Which brings me back to all the yarn I tried to sell. Most of it, I have no plans for whatsoever. One bag I packaged up reluctantly, I love the color of the yarn. Lucky me that it did not sell! Now I really do need to make something from it.

The problem I run into is that I tend to buy rovings in one pound lots. And I find I can at the most, make anywhere from 300 to 650 yards of 2 ply yarn from that pound, depending on how thick I spin it. Some of the yarns I had for sale are very bulky. That's what knitters love right now, a soft bulky, interestingly textured yarn to turn into a scarf over a weekend. But the yardage on the bulky yarns are barely 200 yards, enough
for a scarf but not much else. Even spinning finer and getting the 650 yards is not really enough for any adult knitted project. A shawl needs at least a 1000 yards, and a sweater 2000 yards. It becomes clear why I have not used these yarns myself.

I have one bag of yarn stored away that I hope to use to knit me a sweater. The wool was purchased raw, I washed the fiber and then spun the yarn. I have not checked the specific amount of yarn I have, however, I spun the entire fleece, probably 3.5 pound of usuable fiber. I still may not have enough for a sweater! It's no wonder knitters run to Wallmart to buy six of the one pound balls of acrylic to knit anything.

Still, I love knitting with handspun yarn. It has a feel to it while knitting that I just do not feel from any commercial yarn. The fact that I come up with smaller amounts only challenges me to find patterns adaptable to mulitple colors.

And I will never stop spinning, even if I never use the yarn. I realized after spending the whole day at the spinning wheel, just how much I had missed it. I had not spun anything since about April, and during the winter I often spin a couple of ounces a day. When I don't do that, I miss the tactile experience of the fiber in my hands, I miss the visual experience of the colors developing in the yarn, and most of all I miss the relaxing mediative state of the whole spinning process. Here's to an early new years resolution, let there be some spinning in my life, if not everyday, then often.



Annie said...

Sigh. A whole day of spinning and talking about spinning. Bliss! Especially after all the running and hurrying you all had to do for the wedding.

I am sad to miss the COTFU holiday dessert feast this year. I miss you guys.

Send everyone my love and hellos.

cyndy said...

Wonderful (!) that you had such a nice day spinning...and you are absoultely right about the volume of wool...by the time you spin enough for a sweater, you have made quite an investment! (something I have yet to do!)