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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Doesn't It Take Forever To Make Yarn That Way?

I did a spinning demonstration for a knitting group last year. They knitted, I spun on a drop spindle. Most were fascinated. Many said, "I could never learn that." (They were wrong, BTW) And then there was one lady who said, "Doesn't it take forever to make yarn that way?" By the look on her face and her tone of voice I translated her question this way: What an idiotic waste of time.

People who think like this will be forever content to purchase yarn. That's fine! But some of us like the process as much as the result. We don't count the hours other than to count them as hours well-spent making something beautiful with our hands.

Here is a photo of some laceweight yarn I'm working on right now. So far I've got around 700 yds of 2-ply. I need 2,000 yds for the shawl I want to make. I am making this yarn one strand at a time on a tiny drop spindle. I made the batt by hand as well, starting with a raw lamb fleece and some dirty alpaca that had to be washed, picked, and carded. I added baby camel down and long strands of pure silk and made eight blended batts on my hand-cranked drum carder. I have no idea how many hours it took! When I work with fiber I feel like I am outside of time.

Those of us who love to spin don't count the hours. We count the pleasure, and we count it as a very high pleasure indeed! It's true, I knit fewer garments each year now that I'm spinning, but each sweater or scarf or pair of mittens has been made by love from the fleece. I handle the fiber from the time it is filthy and greasy and full of hay seeds until it is a warm, colorful sweater, surrounding someone I love with its warmth.

We modern people spend far too much time counting the time. If you spin, don't spin in a hurry. If you're thinking about learning to spin, I'd encourage you to do so, and discover what it means to live a few hours each day outside of time.


  1. Wow this yarn looks so soft. It's beautiful and I love the colour. I can't wait to see what the shawl how the will look.

  2. Thanks! I just got the book VICTORIA LACE and I'm eyeing one of those.

  3. A very good lesson to be learned here! "If you spin, don't spin in a hurry." I'm gonna have to remember that one.

    Thank you for sharing :)

  4. Ah, your blog is such a pleasure to read. Thank you for putting the art of spinning into words, "live a few hours each day outside of time."

  5. Sigh... Pure poetry!. Thanks, Kris.

    p.s. lovely laceweight! The shawl will be beautiful.

  6. It's all about the process isn't it - so what if it takes "forever"? What's time got to do with the amount of pleasure one receives from doing something? Handspun yarn isn't something you pick up at the local drive through...thank god.