I wasnt seeking a new craft to try. I was perfectly happy, working along on my knitting and designing.
Then, I got a message from one of my knitting friends. It boiled down to, I have an extra wheel. Would you like to try spinning on it? I protested. She said if I didnt borrow it, she would have to put it into storage.
I had just cleaned up my office at home, so I couldnt say that I didnt have the space. Unable to bear the thought of a useful object going into storage, I agreed to let her try to teach me how to spin.
My one attempt at spinning, on a humid day with mohair on a spindle, didnt go well. I dropped the spindle, tangled the fiber and, generally, made a mess of things. So, I gave up.
I reasoned that I dont have a good reason to learn how to spin. My twin sister is a very good spinner of 14 years. So, I already have lovely, handspun yarn in my stash. I didnt feel the need to increase my burden of guilt and lack of time by learning how to spin.
But, on the final Sunday in March, my friend hauled the wheel into a coffee shop, set it up for me and gave me a mini lecture that sounded a lot like the ones I give people learning how to knit.
1 – Dont watch my hands, watch the result. Everyones hands operate differently.
2 – OK, now you try it.
3 – Great, you are a natural.
Now, Im not fooled by that third line, although it was nice of my friend to say it. I dont think I am naturally good at spinning yarn. I used the wheel to make something.
That something is not yarn, not really. But, I did like the process. I think I may have even declared something dorky like, Im spinning! Look, yarn ... sort of! to all of my fellow knitters and a few confused coffee drinkers.
The something was kinked up, freaky and lumpy. I was not dismayed. I have read enough blogs of people who are learning to spin to know that early efforts are often strange-looking and impractical for use.
I took the wheel home, installed it in my office and made a few rules for myself:
Spin every day, even if only for 10 minutes.
Dont be too hard on yourself. Its about the learning process, not what you crank out. (That one is hard for me. Im kind of a perfectionist.)
Read every book you can get your hands on. (That one is easy, thanks to the Allen County Public Library.)
I also bought a few replacement parts, oiled the wheel well, read the manual for this wheel and tried a different kind of wool from the one I had been using.
If you are using a wheel for the first time and are having a lot of trouble, you should consider at least oiling the parts that can be oiled and trying a few kinds of fiber. Everything became a lot easier for me after I did.
Ive managed to stick to it, and my somethings are beginning to resemble yarn. They arent perfect, but Im enjoying the process.
I wonder how long I will say, Look! Its yarn ... sort of! to my friends and loved ones. Maybe it will always feel a little magical, like knitting. I hope so.