Giving Whorls a Whirl

I first learned how to spin

I was taught how to spin by Chicwithstix

Chicwithstix gave a spinning lesson as part of the Irish Knitters Retreat I went on back in October 2008. I gave it a go but it didn’t “click” with me so I didn’t keep at it. Hence, I can’t say I was taught or learned.

As SusyMcQ chided me, at the time – and quite correctly, too – I expected to be naturally great at it and was frustrated by being proven wrong. It’s not like me to admit defeat to a new technique but I think that because spinning involved learning a new skill set based on physical dexterity, and not an intellectual challenge; it was easier for me to put it to one side. Dexterity is not my strong suit.

Then early this year Kneehigh announced (on the Dublin Knit Collective Group on Ravelry) that there would be a spinning group meeting on monthly basis in the Powerscourt Towncentre. The attraction of meeting up with other crafters was the real motivator for me to look at my drop-spindle with new eyes. I knew I was more likely to learn how to spin if I was regulary spinning with other spinners .

Last week, I heard Matthew Syed being interviewed on the radio about his new book “Bounce – How Champions Are Made”. His book “demolishes the idea that talent is the key to success. The path to the top, Syed argues, is a combination of opportunity — being in the right place at the right time — and hard work.” As the Interviewer quipped: the joke about how to get to Carnegie Hall is true – “Practice, practice, practice”

Syed also spoke about how it’s better to praise children for their hard work in acheiving something; rather than for their being talented. If children who are used to being praised for effort don’t succeed, they are motivated to keep trying until they succeed; whereas children praised for talent won’t try again if they fail as their failure serves to “prove” that have insufficient talent. It’s an interesting, and new, way of thinking. And it’s just the kind of motivating logic I needed to hear about my spinning. If I’m to master this new skill I have to keep trying.

My New High-fibre Diet

To that end, I’ve been accumulating spinning accoutrements. Mainly roving and fibre – which I don’t count as contributing to stash since it’s yardage is (yet) unknown. (A technicallity, I know!) I’ve also acquired two drop-spindles: one small one in TIK the day I met Averil; and Clarabel’s student spindle from the same spinning lesson at the knitting retreat. She was about to throw out all her roving samples from her Knitting Retreat goody-bag so I rescued them. This give me loads of odds’n’ends to practice on before I start to tackle these beauties:

From top to bottom, we have:

  • Ivy Brambles Merino Roving – “Volcano”; bought online from The Yarn and Fiber Company purely because of the name of the colourway!
  • Sereknity Blue-faced Leicester Roving – colourway “Kismet”; bought online from The Yarn and Fiber Company purely because I’d heard Blue-faced Leicester is a good starter-fibre
  • Louet Northern Lights Wool Top from This Is Knit; Chicwithstix was with me at the time and thinks that the fibre is Corriedale
  • Ashford Merino bought from The Yarn Room, Co. Wicklow
  • LHogan Blue-faced Leicester – “Georgia”; bought from TIK after the April Spin-In
  • LHogan Corriedale – “Gabrielle”; bought from TIK after Annie Modesitt’s Knitting Class

Look fondly on them – hopefully they will be still things of beauty – and recognisable as yarn – the next time you see them.

It’s been 6 weeks since my last confession…

I did not love Blog when:

  • I promised to write specific posts and then completely …eh… didn’t!;
  • I did all these fantastic, blog-worthy and craft-related things and never told you about them;
  • I allowed real-life time-pressures to get in the way of blogging time…
  •  

For these, and all my sins, I am truly sorry.

For my penance I will try to write circa 20 catch-up posts over the next two weeks!

I have to apologise for my prolonged absence from my blog. It all started when DH got stuck in San Francisco because of the Ash Cloud. I was due to write a blog post all about my adventures to The Yarn Room in Wicklow the previous weekend, and meeting Irene Lundgaard for the first time – and being taught by her – but the heart just wasn’t in it.

When DH is away I still work full-time and have to get myself and the three crazies up and out the door in the morning; and fed and put to bed each evening. It’s a bit like living on a treadmill but I can do it by just getting on with it. I cut myself a break or two by easing off on household chores, such as laundry, for the duration. My knitting buddies are a great help too, as they often “bring the Mountain to Mohammed” as it were, by coming over to my house for Knit-night.

I have huge admiration for single parents, let me tell you; I don’t know how they keep themselves going. I know I only have to hold it all together until DH is home again and usually we’re only talking one week. I liken it to running a marathon: it’s a hellish run but you keep yourself moving, knowing the finish-line is in sight.

On Thursday 15th April the world woke up to the news that a certain, unpronounceable Volcano in Iceland was – quite literally – hell-bent on wrecking everyone’s plans. DH had been away since the previous Sunday and was due to fly home on Saturday afternoon. Sure enough, Mother Nature had different ideas. From my perspective, it was like someone had taken the finish-line and just run off with it. I had no choice but to keep running the marathon; but there’s something disturbing, psychologically, about not knowing when it will all end.

On Saturday night, DH suggested that he could be stuck for another five days. Strangely, rather than being horrified and distraught at the news, this was exactly what I needed to gather my energies and keep myself moving. He had given me a glimmer of ribbon that I could focus on and move towards. As it turned out, his prediction proved correct and he flew in on the second flight into Dublin Airport on Wednesday 21st April. It was amazing to see a single con-trail in the sky while simultaneously listening to a news headline reporting its arrival. We were thrown back to the early days of Flying!

So he’s been home now for a month… how do I explain the past four weeks?!?!?! Hmmmmm!?!?

The problem, for a change, was not having nothing to say (if you follow me). The problem was absolutely, over-indulging in crafty, blog-worthy adventures; to such an extent that I’m spoiled for choice. The problem with this is that I haven’t yet learned how to make time – I can only make the most of it; and I’ve certainly been doing that lately, as you can see below!

As it’s Sunday Miscellany, I’m just going to list all the excitement, somewhat in chronological order. These are potential blog-posts that you can look forward to. I have a plan for when I’m going to write each but I’ve learned from my mistake – I’m not going to tell you when to expect them in case I don’t follow through and disappear from my blog again out of shame!

  • Trip to the Yarn Room Co. Wicklow
  • Met Irene Lundgard
  • Learned Tunisian Crochet in the Round
  • Made a pair of wrist-warmers using what I learned
  • Went to the April Spin-in at Powerscourt
  • Stash Accumulation after the April Spin-in
  • Chose between finishing my April Socks and making a hat for a co-worker
  • Attended Combination Knitting Workshop by Annie Modesitt at TIK
  • Met Samsaradh and had great time catching-up with SusyMcQ
  • Stash Accumulation after the Combination Knitting Workshop
  • Met Averil
  • Stash Accumulation to celebrate meeting Averil (yeah, I’m totally out-of-control, by now!)
  • Choosing Crochet over knitting lately
  • Some Chemo caps I’m making and why
  • Choosing not to cast-on until current WIPs are whupped
  • Progress on Better Mousetrap socks
  • Progress on GlenvarAgin
  • We get Broadband means Spinning Tutorials on YouTube
  • Stash Accumulation from The Yarn and Fiber Company
  • Getting into running, the “Couch to 5K programme” and The Flora Women’s Mini-marathon

That’s kinda enough to be getting on with, I think you’ll agree!

April’s Sunday Spin-In

Asking DH if I could go to the Monthy Spin-In the Sunday after he’d got back from being stranded for five days by an Ash Cloud was “milking-it”, let’s be straight about it. My account with the Brownie Points Depository was bursting at the seams and I was making a withdrawal. I didn’t quite say: “You see those three crazies and that mini-mountain of laundry? They’re all yours! See you in a few hours.” But I might as well have!

If we ignore the flailing spindles and the wanton fluff flying everywhere, I had a very relaxing time turning this:

Bought from Chicwithstix at the Crafty Market

…into this:

Worsted weight, perhaps?

I think it might be a bit painful for other spinners to watch me in action. I’m not… shall we say… graceful. Also, possibly my concentration-face looks akin to another person’s “I’m in pain”-face. A few other spinners expressed their concerns for my well-being and hinted at a less-than peaceful mental health – albeit, very gently and with a willingness to assist. In fact, I felt very much at ease and enjoyed myself immensely.

In particular, I’m very proud about what I’ve produced. It’s fairly even, doesn’t have too many rogue pieces of fluff from other spinners or floor-pickings and seems to be a worsted weight (as opposed to the lace-weight / bulky I produced last time).

I realise it helped that I was using pencil roving; and that it was undyed – that was my plan. By cutting out the pre-drafting part of the process, I could focus on practicing getting the twist in (without taking an eye out!).

I still have the second bag to spin. When I do, I plan to dye each single the same colour but separately: one in a dye for wool, and the other in a dye for Tencel. I know the Tencel will take some of the wool dye but I’m interested in seeing how the blends react. Then, I will ply them and hopefully end up with something that is nicely blended.

WIP-ette

On the last Sunday of February I finally got the chance to join up with other spinners at the monthly Sunday’s Spin-in at Powerscourt. I brought with me the only spinning accoutrements I possess, a beginner’s drop-spindle and some dyed roving that I’d started on the Irish Knitter’s Retreat back in October 2008! I started the afternoon not being able to remember a single thing from the lesson Chicwithstix had given me way back then. However, thanks to the generosity of time and knowledge on the part of Kneehigh, Chicwithstix, DubSpinner, Deimne, Flick and Claire42 it started to come back to me. 

I was determined to finish spinning the roving I had and I learned a few things in the process too; such as dyed roving is more prone to felting and leaving it stuffed in a plastic bag for 18 months is not conducive to easy-spinning. However I did  finish up with this. Art/Novelty-yarn-esque as it is, I’m proud to have got to the end and for learning all that I did. 

Very nice dear.... but what is it?

I had the “yarn” on separate toilet roll centres, all ready for meeting Chicwithstix at the Crafy Market last Sunday, so that she could give me pointers on how to ply them together. And then… I met her scribble lace scarf, knit using beautiful blue hand-spun of her own for the accent yarn. So now my “yarn” is not going to be plied but – with the able-bodied, enabling of Bootie and Clarabel – got partnered with some Drops Kid-silk in beige from The Constant Knitter

When I grow up.... I'll scribble!

I’ve received excellent advice from all the spinners I’ve met recently. The advice I like best of all is from BionicLaura: “spindling for 5 minutes a day will teach you more than an hour once a week” because it means I’m going to have to invest in a whole lot of roving. Roving is just perfect to tide me over while I’m on this strict yarn diet, isn’t it? With this in mind I got 100g of pencil roving from Chicwithstix at the Crafty Market. It’s a Merino Tencel blend that I’m going to spin, dye and then ply. Until then, I just content myself with burying my face in it an inhaling. Aaaah! 

How do you catch a cloud and pin it down...

Oh! my strict yarn diet… I completely forgot! (tee hee!). The main reason we went to the Crafty Market in the first place was to get a chance to see The Constant Knitters’ wares. She did not disappoint and these two balls of Kid-Silk by Drops were purloined with a lacy wrap from Knitting Brioche in mind. 

Planned for "Herfst avond scarf" by Nancy Marchant from "Knitting Brioche"