The Three Rs, Part Two

So if day one was rowdy, day two would have to be described as reverent.  The second day was spent spinning with Judith MacKenzie.  Now you all know that spinning was the thing I was most concerned about.

Just days before the class was announced, I had declared that I was done with spinning.  It’s only due to an entirely uncharacteristic delay in getting rid of stuff that I hadn’t chucked all my spinning fiber the week before the class went public.  I had put it all in a pile to go away, but just never got around to finding a new home for it.  When we introduced ourselves at the start of the retreat, I explained that I was there in part because I “got distracted while trying to clean out my closet.”

So I registered.  And I practiced.  Then I bought better spindles.  And I practiced.  And I bought more fiber.  And I practiced.  Eventually I was turning out something that was more or less yarn-like.  Not good, not skillful, but recognizably yarn-ish in nature.  Then I got to class and realized just how bad I still am at this.

Oddly enough, it wasn’t a troubling realization.  It was more like ‘wow look how many other ways there are to do this’ than ‘I am a terrible person and should hang my head in shame at having thought I could do it.’  I have a bad habit.  If I’m not good at a new task five minutes after starting it, I tend to decide it is a lousy thing to know and loose all interest in it.  I don’t feel that way about spinning, at least not after this class, and I credit that to Judith.  She is a marvelous instructor and incredibly well versed in her subject.  She put everyone at ease.  She answered questions from newbies and experienced spinners alike and never once made me feel foolish or out of place.  It was phenomenal.  Everyone was more or less in awe of her knowledge and skill.

As for the content of the class?  Well, we spun.  We spun silk by itself in several different preparations, and we spun silk mixed with wool, cashmere, angora, alpaca, and a few things I can’t even remember.  Much of it was beyond my current skill level, but it was all great fun. The only downside was that I seem to have decided I need to acquire an electric spinning wheel.  This one in particular.  Beth was kind enough to loan me one for the class, and now I’m smitten.

Not Actually Embarrassing

I’m not saying it’s perfect.  I’m not even saying it’s good.  I am, however, saying I don’t find it overwhelmingly embarrassing.  It is demonstrably yarn.  Even someone who didn’t spend much time interacting with yarn would likely identify it as such.  Funky, exuberantly-textured, oddly-colored yarn — but yarn none the less.

The suggested skill level for the retreat was “able to spin a continuous thread. (Note that we didn’t say that you should be able to knit well, or spin well. A basic beginner would be comfortable.)” I think this qualifies.  If it doesn’t I’m more or less out of luck, as the class is in a bit more than a week and I don’t know how much better I’ll get between now and then.

It’s about 2.75 oz and 200 yards.  It took the better part of a week (at about an hour a day) to spin and ply.  I’ve not the slightest idea what I’ll do with it.  There’s a good chance I’ll just keep it as a pet for the time being.

Utterly Without Shame

So I’ve gone and done it.  Once before I succumbed to the biggest knitting blog cliche out there and showed you my cat.  Apparently doing it once broke some sort of internal restraint, because here I am doing it again.

It seems all my kitten-based indiscretions are related to spinning.  The last time I mentioned them, it was in a post where I declared that my affair with spinning was at an end.  Two weeks later, I found out I was going to the silk retreat in Port Ludlow which features spinning.  A deep and abiding fear of being the worst in the class prompted me to get back to work.  I got nicer spindles and am actually rather enjoying it now that I have better tools.

So, apparently, are the hellcats.  That’s Barry going to town while Levon looks on awaiting his turn.  Helpful wee creatures those two.

Practice Makes…

Practice makes…well, it hasn’t made perfect quite yet, but it is getting better.  I can now consistently spin for at least half an hour without feeling the need to swear profusely.  It’s looking prettier too.  Maybe there’s hope yet.

You Spin Me Right Round Baby, Right Round

The fiber show was, rather as expected, full of fluffy goodness.  Kinda smelly, but good none the less. While I was there, I realized that I’m not as clear on the difference between sheep and goats as I thought I was.  See these guys?  I’m pretty sure buddy on the right there is a sheep, but what about buster on the left.  Do the creepy rectangular pupils mean he’s a goat, or do some sheep have those too?

I managed not to bring home too much yarn.  I picked up some goodies for the book, and I’ll tell you all about that in a later post.  I also bought two skeins of yarn from Knitting Notions, one for me and one for The Boy.  Alas, I showed less restraint when it came to spinning supplies.  I got two lovely spindles and three different sorts of fiber.  Now I know I said I was done with spinning.  I thought I was.  Then I went and signed up for the Silk Retreat.  I figure if I’m going to fly across the country to take a class, 1/3 of which is spinning, I’d damn well better practice.  I don’t want to look the fool in front of Judith MacKenzie.  Perhaps not surprisingly, I’m finding spinning is easier (and far more pleasant) on the fancy expensive spindle than it was on the cheap one made from a dowel and a toy wheel that came with my learn to spin kit.