Hand Spun

Hand Spun
Campfire Hat

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Story Yarn

As any good Story Yarn should, mine has a story behind it. I attended my very first fiber fest at Trailing of the Sheep in Hailey, ID earlier this month. My friend Carol  had a booth at the folk life fair and sold her homemade items from her own handspun wool and angora yarn. She invited me, a fairly new spinner, to bring my wheel and spin with her at her booth. It was a chilly morning so close to the Sawtooth Mountains in early October, but I was game and very excited! I got there early enough to help Carol set up her booth and get her angora rabbit settled in. MacBeth (the rabbit's name) was the highlight of her booth and he enjoyed every minute of the attention he got all day long.  Carol and I got comfy in our chairs in front of our wheels and started to spin. Now when she invited me and I read the agenda, it seemed like there would be spinners galore as well as demonstrations and kids' classes so I was prepared to be ignored and get some singles spun and plied while I visited with Carol and enjoyed people watching and all the new sights, smells and sounds. There were people from several different cultures wandering from booth to booth speaking multiple languages and some wearing their native garb. Some booths had homespun yarn for sale, some had fleece roving for sale and some had garments and other goodies to offer so there was a lot to look at. Early on, however, I found a large number of people were fascinated with our wheels and our spinning. Surprisingly, from what I gleaned throughout the day, we were two of only a very few spinners who were actually spinning at the folk life fair. We got asked questions ranging from the mechanics of the wheel to the kind of fiber we were spinning and where it came from. Carol was actually spinning some of MacBeth's angora fur she had harvested at his last shearing so everyone loved to see that. I had some simple alpaca/merino wool mix roving I'd planned on finishing off. It wasn't anything fancy and it hadn't been expensive. My wheel, as you can see, is an older Ashford Traditional single treadle and it had been used and well loved before I got it from a lady in Arizona off e-bay. Noticing the energy and fascination folks were exhibiting as they watched us spin, I found myself asking people if they wanted to try and spin from my wheel. A surprising number of men wanted to try and quite a few kids. One pre-teen boy I remember particularly well. He was very polite, very excited and thrilled to death when he spun a length of his very first yarn. I broke it off, let it double against itself as a ply and gave it to him to take home. Most of the kids got sections of their own yarn but the adults just wanted to work the treadle and attempt to draft the roving simultaneously. So you can imagine what some of the sections of my single looked like. :) I had nice even sections where I had been able to spin without interruption and then large sections that were thick and overspun and uneven. As the lumpy uneven masses of single spun began to fill my bobbins, I decided that any yarn I'd ply from it would be virtually unusable. I considered it no big loss though because the looks on the faces of people who got to spin at a wheel for the first time... well, the experience for me was priceless. Carol said I was earning stars for my crown that day. What I really was doing was letting those people remind me of why I started spinning in the first place. The excitement in their eyes and the disjointed body movements that occasionally became smoother as they found a rhythm all brought back why I love to spin.  After going through two big sections of roving on two separate bobbins, I decided to ply the yarn and keep it rather than tossing the singles and calling it a waste of roving. I realized what a treasure I had in my hands. I had a record of the first hands-on experience people were getting with a real spinning wheel and unspun fiber. In the kinetic energy stored in the singles they helped me spin, I plied together a multi-cultural exchange of ideas, experience and awe. The picture of my story yarn will serve as a reminder for me of several things. First, just because something doesn't go according to my original plan, I need to stick with it because there may be something better and more enriching in store for me. Second, I will NEVER again worry about the "waste" of material or fiber again when I demonstrate spinning and let someone else try their hand at it. Who knows what events were set in motion because those kids (and the adults too) were able to try something they otherwise might never see or get to try again? And finally, I learned that fiber fests are wonderful, amazing events and I want to attend every one I have the chance to.
I'm not sure what I'll eventually do with my Story Yarn. I might make something from it or I might keep it in my cedar chest just the way it is and treasure it for the memories I'll associate with it. I can say this with certainty though. I hope to make a lot of story yarn over my life time from here on out.

Autumn is really here now!

The leaves on all of our trees are gold and red. My burning bushes are all red and showy too. I went outside this morning to check on the rabbit and while she's nice and warm in her fluffy angora coat (7 times warmer than wool by the way!) the wind had my fingers practically frozen by the time I got back inside. That's what I get for going outside in my jammies in October, right? So autumn has arrived. Unfortunately it finds me with neither an expanded chicken coop or a winter's supply of wood stocked up. So I need to get on the ball and make some calls tomorrow about getting some wood laid in. Meanwhile, Jeff has been in contact with our fence guy and we've gotten nowhere with him so we'll have to find someone else to expand the chicken coop run. Apparently they don't have enough room because the Barred Plymouth Rock pullet is pecking the feathers off the other black Sex Linked pullets and I'm not very happy about that. I'm also sitting on about 5 dozen eggs right now. I've been sick so I haven't been able to off load the eggs like I usually can. My brother will be taking 4 dozen home to his 7 kids and wife today though so there's one less thing to fuss over.
This morning now finds me on the couch blogging. Qwynn, my Congo African Grey parrot is sitting on her playstand right next to me preening her feathers and being a good girl. Daisy and Sammi, my Amazon and Maroon bellied conure respectively are also close at hand and performing their morning ablutions while I type away with Pandora streaming in the background. The other birds are all playing and being good and Cricket, my canary, is singing his little heart out! He's got a great voice and a lovely song. It's very nearly a perfect Sabbath morning. We missed church this morning because I'm just getting over this nasty cold and Jeff might be coming down with it. I'm supposed to sing for church next week so here's hoping my voice recovers in time otherwise it'll be more of a sing-along than a solo. *gulp* Solo. I haven't done one since before Mom died and I'm more than a little nervous about doing one now. But Jeff assures me it's time to move past that so I'm going to try. 
I've been trying to figure out this whole blogging thing this morning too. So far I apparently have a lot in common with a slew of stay at home moms and practicing witches. I can't explain that one but when I hit "next blog" while reading through other blogs to see if I want to follow any, those are what I eventually stumble into. I don't have kids and work 40+ hours a week and couldn't be further from a practicing witch so I have more to figure out on here I suppose. Hey, it's not like there's a manual or anything.
But I did find some really great blogs from fiber crafters and other spinners so I'm following those as well as my friend Kerri's new blog and my friend Nicole's blog. It's a great day to sit by the wood stove and be all cozy. But Jeff needs to clean the chimney so I'll have to turn up the furnace today I guess.  I have some nice alpaca to spin if I get the wheel out. My cousin might be coming over tonight for a scary movie fest (if she wants to brave a house full of cold virus). This cold virus came at a really inconvenient time for us here. Wouldn't it be nice if you could actually schedule illness? Oh well.
I've heard Canada geese flying overhead this morning. OK - I didn't actually hear them flying, but I heard them calling to each other as they flew over the house. That is such a "fall" sound! My favorite time of year is just around the corner. Once Halloween is over, the real holiday season kicks off and I have Thanksgiving and Christmas to look forward to and I am really looking forward to it this year. Carol is still going to teach me to make soap and I have spinning and knitting and crochet and Jeff and the birds and my crafting friends to fill my time with. Here's hoping for an amazing holiday season this year! Now I think I'll sign off and go get some warm fuzzy socks on my feet. Might turn the furnace up a smidge too. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Nest

The birds are finally all in their cages and covered up for the night. The floors are swept and cleaned, the rest of the critters are in bed and Jeff is in the man cave doing something technologically advanced. Me? Well I've decided to try blogging. I'm actually trying it from my iPad. I can't say I appreciate the miracle of touch screen keyboards like I should. *sigh* This was my first week at the new job. I'm with the same company I've worked at for the last 3+ years just in a new position. I have to admit that I'm loving it. I remember 15 years ago thinking how much I'd love to do what I'm doing now. And here I am actually doing it. What a crazy bumpy road though! There have been some good things over the last few years but as a whole I'd have to say that I'd never want to have to relive the last 6 years over again...ever. Only now do I feel like I'm somewhat recovering from the sheer awfulness of it all. So it's time for a new start here at the nest.
The holidays are coming up and we have a holiday craft bazaar at work just before Thanksgiving. I've been crafting like a maniac for two months solid trying to get enough items to sell and buy a new spinning wheel. I have a used, very much loved Ashford Traditional single drive spinning wheel right now and I would LOVE to upgrade to a Schacht double drive wheel with ball bearings. My spinning has really improved and I bought a greased merino wool fleece two weeks ago. It won grand champion at the state fair and it's just lovely. Once I wash and dry it and run it through my drum carder I'll be able to spin and dye it. I can hardly wait to get started.
Unfortunately I came down with the cold that won't die last week and although I've started to feel better I have a ways to go just yet. But I need to finish the lap quilts I'm working on too. I want to get some cards made up for The Wren's Nest but haven't had the time. Maybe I should enlist Jeff's help on that one.
So enough blogging for tonight. I'm going to hit the Nyquil and then hit the sack. I'll be interested to see if I keep up with this blogging thing. TTFN