Posted by: Aunt Magaidh | September 21, 2009

Handspun

Okay folks, I am going public and getting ready to sell my handspun yarn.   I’ve been trying to be productive.  I’ve been working through my stash.  Look at the goodies! Wool, silk, cotton, alpaca…yum.

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Going through this part of the stash (…oh no…this is not all the stash of handspun…come on, get real) has been educational.   I noticed how the earlier skeins are from fibers that are a little less refined.  I see how paranoid I am to spin yarn that is too bulky and uneven.  I couldn’t waste any fiber…couldn’t allow myself to create those lumpy, bumpy beginner skeins that would sit in a box untouched.  I look at the effort to make every ounce count.

Even now, I am appalled that I have a skein that is less than 200 yards.  In my head it doesn’t make sense to have a ball of yarn that is too little to do something with.  That isn’t stash – that’s clutter.

But as my fingers travel through my homespun, they creep and caress the fiber.  Memories and ideas mingle.

The brown merino reminds me of the family vacation to Mendocino and Humboldt.  I bought the roving for it at the farmer’s market from a lady who was a breast cancer survivor and spinner.  We got to talking and she invited me to her house to see the churro wool and other oddities.  My husband and daughter amused themselves patiently with her dogs and husband while we rooted around in her attic opening bags of fleece.  The resulting brown yarn is sturdy and homey and earthy.  It’s 462 yards of worsted just reeks of steadfastness and comfort.

I love the merino/alpaca yarn (124 yds) that reminds me of a foggy winter night, navy and silver.  The navy merino came from the stash of a dead spinner.  The spinner’s daughter had met me at faire and asked if I would like the spinning supplies of her late mother.  I said yes in a heartbeat and inherited hand dyed mohair, balls of merino, and a Schacht Matchless.  When I see that blue, I think of that spinner.  I honor her when I sit at her wheel, I share her passion when I tease loose the locks of mohair dyed by her hands.

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I combined the navy merino with a ply of silver alpaca.   The little sandwich baggie or raw alpaca was a gift from a spinning guild that I helped in a sheep to shawl competition.  While at Dixon Lambtown (…oh, oh…what fun!  Go see the wool hall!  Go taste the lamb at the BBQ competition!  http://www.lambtown.com/), I had volunteered to help with spinning when they were looking for someone to replace a teammate who had fallen ill suddenly.  I took my place at her wheel and spun for about 2 hours, chatting with the other teammates as they carded, spun, and wove.   They shared tips on how to handle the fleece, expounded on the differences in the various drum carders, wheels and looms, and corrected my technique as I tried to match the other two spinners yarn.  I learned a lot.

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I'm the one inthe middle with the blue shirt

They marvelled that I hadn’t spun alpaca yet, and so they sent that handful of satiny fluff as a thank you.  That 2 ply yarn is full of learning and value.  I think of that yarn turning into a hat and booties for a treasured baby.  If that skein lives in my stash long enough, maybe it’ll be reborn for a child of a favored friend or relative.

I think of spinning as magic.  You take fluff in your hands and with a simple act of twisting, it becomes yarn.  You take the skein of yarn and knot it (by knitting, crocheting, or weaving) into an object of purpose.  It is creation, and therefore sacred.  In fact, I believe that in my practice of spinning and knitting, I should include intentions.  I have spun while meditating on healing, I have knit while meditating on love.  A scarf sent to college bound foster kids was knit with the repeated intention of  “You are valued and loved.  Go learn and become something wonderful.”  The helmet liner sent to a nephew soldier scheduled to go to Iraq was knit with the chant “Protect whomever wears this.  Keep this person safe and healthy.”  I have spun yarn at the deathbed of a loved elder, thinking of the love and teaching she shared with me over the years.  I still have that yarn.  It waits for me to figure out what it wants to become.

The superwash merino in a deep forest green just begs to become socks.   The sportweight periwinkle in my favorite shade will become a beloved shawl.  The stormy blue will turn into a hat for my husband to keep him warm at night when he camps in the desert.  The yarn made during living history demonstrations wait for the fan of authenticity.  My handspun stash is about possibility.  And really, isn’t that what it’s all about?  We are all so full of possibilities.

Magaidh

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