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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Fun with Yarn



Yes, that’s Christmas yarn. Even better, it’s fat, fluffy, low twist Christmas yarn. One of the requirements this year for the Olds College Master Spinner program (I’m in year three) is to spin a fat, fluffy, low twist yarn. And I’ve done it! In red and green merino, none the less!

Spinning fat and fluffy is hard work. When we start spinning, we spin fat and slubby yarn mainly because that’s all we can do. If it holds together, we cheer. I still remember the first time I spun knitable yarn. “I can knit with this! It’s knitable!” I practically bounced off the walls, I was so thrilled and proud. With experience, though, yarn gets thinner. And thinner. And thinner. Until one’s default yarn is what’s known in the hobby as “frog hair.” Then trying to spin thick is an exercise in frustration and failure. The thick yarn we spun in the beginning is an unattainable ideal.

One of the challenges this year is to vary the yarn we spin, from an ultra-thin, highly twisted yarn to fat, fluffy, low twist yarn. It’s all in knowing how to use the different ratios of our spinning wheels and coordinate how quickly we draft with how slowly we treadle. It’s also knowing what fiber to use. My first efforts involved longwools, which are naturally sleek and didn’t hold together. A YouTube video by the Wool Wench (I love that name) convinced me to try a different course. Shazam. Fat and fluffy!

I have far more failures in this project than I do successes, and that’s okay. Learning is all about trying and failing and growing through experience. Thank you, God, for making us fallible. Failure is good.

Enough failures, and you end up with Christmas yarn, ready to use for the office Christmas party.


What Is Our Community?

I’m feeling pretty good these days. I finished my sweater, the Jurisfiction cardigan by Glenna C. I particularly like the slightly irregular cable. The yarn is handspun woolen style from a California Red fleece that I washed and processed myself. The color you see is the way God made the sheep. The buttons are stamped with pictures of bicycles, because I finished carding the fleece and spinning the yarn while my husband rode RAGBRAI (the bicycle ride across Iowa).

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What’s even better is the loom is all threaded, and I also, finally, managed to spin a quasi-presentable low-twist bulky yarn. Life is good.

Craft work, though, tends to be a solitary activity. I can certainly knit and hang with people. As a knitter, the advantage of being a church functionary is that I spend a lot of time in meetings, and consequently get a lot of knitting done. But that’s not a craft community.

The dictionary defines “community” as “a group of people … who have the same interests, religion, race, etc.” A spinning community understands what I mean when I say the sweater yarn was spun woolen, and knows that California Red is a rare, endangered breed of sheep. A weaving community understands what threading heddles is all about, and how boring it can be. The cycling community knows RAGBRAI, Beekman’s ice cream, and the wonderful Iowa pies.

 Shared interests help bring people together, but true community transcends shared interests. Friendships form. People learn and grow from each other. That means, among other things, that the challenge for community is to be broad enough and diverse enough that we aren’t just like with like. Most spinning and knitting guilds that I know of are overwhelmingly female. Male knitters are a rare breed, and stereotypically gay. What are we missing when so many of our fiber groups are so short of testosterone? There’s also a whole lot less melatonin among knitters and spinners than in the world at large. Thank goodness that young women are picking up knitting. And praise the Lord for the Asian influence in Japanese knitting.

Friends, the world of knitting and spinning isn’t nearly multicultural enough to truly reflect the breadth and depth of humanity. Shall we evangelize? Shall we grow, and learn?