“A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.”
Saturday, October 30, 2010
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.