If using sticks to turn string into clothes is magic, spinning is pure alchemy. It’s not particularly difficult once you’ve got the knack, but taking fluff and coming out with good usable yarn makes you feel like you’re being very very clever.
My spinning wheel has mostly sat quiet since the babies started arriving; a spinning wheel in full flight has far too many little gaps irresistible to tiny fingers to say nothing of two rows of metal hooks whirling around on the flyer and it seemed far easier to stick with knitting and crochet for a while. I’ve had it out for them occasionally; mostly to demonstrate ‘Wind the bobbin up’; if you’ve ever wondered what on earth that nursery rhyme it about, it’s spinning. First you wind the bobbin up; the spin. Then you wind it back again; plying. Then you pull pull; after you’ve skeined the yarn and let it soak for a little you put your hands into each end of the loop and pull them apart to even the twist. And clap clap clap; well to finish the yarn you grab hold of the loop of skeined yarn and thwack it against your kitchen cupboards or the fridge to felt it very slightly and help it all hold together.
I’ve no idea what the pointing to ceiling and floor is about, it’s probably weaving.
But the other day I realised that the children are old enough to be able to follow “keep your hands clear”, and I had an itching to do something even more calm and meditative than knitting and crochet, so I pulled out the wheel. In my fibre stash I found a bundle of Falkland Merino, soft as butter and dyed into the Spring Meadows colourway by BabylongLegs. I think I bought it at Wonderwool Wales years and years and years ago so it was high time it saw the light of day.
I had every intention of taking photos before and during the process but when the decision is between not spinning or no photos because all the best craft projects are started after dark, the startitis won out. If you follow me on Instagram then you might have seen the work in progress on my stories.
I’m not sure what I’d planned for it at the time; most of my fibre was bought with the intention of turning it into sock yarn, and its true that the more you spin the thinner you end up spinning, and the more chance you’ve got of ending up with sock yarn, but for this I challenged myself to spin thicker, aiming for a DK-Aran sort of a weight.
I spun the whole lot onto one bobbin, then let it rest overnight and the next day Navajo plyed it back. Chain plying is a lovely way to preserve the colour changes, although I’m never too precise about it and there are plenty of barber pole sections of brown into green or peach into yellow.
And once skeined and washed and dryed in the garden on a brisk Spring afternoon, it was finished. I’m a little bit thick and thin on the spinning but it evened out in the plying and I’ve ended up with 124 yards of a gorgeous greeny orange brown that’s probably on the bulky side of aran at the very least.
So what is it to be? Well Kitty wants a hat or mittens, Elma just wants it to cuddle, and I think it might best suit the small Pip Squeak as the patterned yoke to a nice cosy jumper, possibly with cream as the background even if that is ridiculously impractical for a small boy. I’m still waiting for the perfect inspiration to strike and then I’ll know exactly what it’s meant to be, so if you have any ideas, please shout them out.