This Saturday was my third spinning class and I stuffed my bag with
- 1 nearly completed sock-that-is-now-completed-and-shall-soon-be-shown-on-this-blog
- 1 cardigan, sans needed buttons-that-shall-also-be-shown-soon
- 1 small handful of cleaned merino roving
When I once again sailed through the yarn store door, a diet coke in one hand and my over-stuffed bag in the other, I sensed a change in the atmosphere. Pat’s (who runs the yarn store) husband was helping the other Pat—who is taking the class—with her spinning wheel. But I did not see ‘my’ Ashford Traveler anywhere. It wasn’t in sight.
What worried me even was that my two bobbins of badly-spun yarn were also gone. We were going to learn plying this week, and I had just about the right amount so that I could ply some yarn. But…the bobbins were gone, disappeared along with the wheel.
Patricia, on the other hand, had lovely, crammed bobbins. She rented her wheel and spun some alpaca to ply with her wool; she owns 3 rescue alpacas and one yielded 10 pounds of creamy-white fiber. It looked amazing and my alpaca lust reared its ugly head again. 10 pounds!
Then, Pat-the-lys-owner showed up, with her usual grace, beauty, enlightenment….and the news that the Ashford Traveler had been sold. Pat works the weekends and some other days of the week and Leanne usually works during the week and hurrah! She had sold a spinning wheel. Unfortunately, I don’t know what happened to my yarn yet. Pat didn’t know either. So, there I was, ready to ply, with all my yarn disappeared.
Well, not quite.
Two bobbins of very badly spun and ugly yarn were retrieved; I think I may have spun part of it. It was a mix of white-brown-and-grey singles that looked very much like someone drunk - In any case, Pat helped me set up a Lazy Kate and I used an Ashford Traditional. I prefer a double-treadle, but I’ve finally gotten to the point that I can keep a steady rhythm on a single treadle.
I found out that plying is very easy and that this yarn looked very uglier once it was plied. However, I leanred how to use a niddy-noddy—fun!—and am now left with an extremely ugly skein of handspun yarn.
However, after I finished plying, which only took a short time, I finally felt ready to spin with my special roving. Included with the class is 10 ounces of Lorna’s Laces roving and I zoomed in on the Devon colorway.
This (which I deliberately shot on the concrete for a surreal look) is the roving:
The yarn is still a little inconsistent but a huge improvement over my first handspun. And with 10 full ounces of this stuff, I will probably end up having enough for hat-scarf combo or maybe a hat-mitten combo. Pat sent the bobbin home with me, to avoid a repeat of the mysteriously-disappearing-Barbara yarn.
I have to admit, I wouldn’t be very sorry to lose that ugly handpsun!
All this week, I’ve been on pins and needles, waiting for my spinning class this Saturday. I (as usual) fell through the shop door with a torn paper bag full of sweater pieces under one arm and a bag with my t-shirt sleeve and a camera and a notebook and some pens and $2.
Pat had several Ashford wheels out in the front of the store already and took me and…and…oh, gosh, I think another Pat to the back of the store to give us some fibers. For clarity’s sake, Pat is the owner of the yarn store, and I will call my classmate Patricia. (The other person signed up for the class broke her wrist, unfortunately!) Patricia aquired some alpacas and so wants to learn to be able to use their fiber!
Pat pulled out a few spindles just to show us some basics of drafting. I’ve had some experience with a spindle, but I reaquainted myself with it. Patricia had never used one, so they practiced together.
Once again, my efforts produce a lumpy yarn, but I didn’t feel too frustrated. After all, this IS a spinning class, I’m here to learn.
To start, we practiced our treadling on single-treadle Ashford Traditionals.
It took a little time for me to build an even rhythm. It helped to watch the, uh, lever things that push the wheel—those things attached to the treadle. Yes, I am still very ignorant.
After me and Patricia practiced our treadling, Pat brought out a double-treadle wheel and I volunteered to try it right away. I knew immeaditely that I like double-treadle wheels the best. It was much easier to build a smooth rhythm of spinning. Here’s me, practicing my treadling on a Ashford double.
The class runs from 2-4 and most of that afternoon, I spent pulling broken yarn through the orifice with the orifice hook. See at first, my yarn was very thick and lumpy. But then I started to spin very thinly, but I wasn’t adding enough twist. Finally, after working and working and fixing and fixing, this is what I had.
Towards the end, I really started to sense why people spin. It was very soothing; the blend of concentration and sensation was unique. I cannot wait for the next class. I could rent a wheel but I am too afraid to bring it home, at least as this point, so I’m probably going to practice in the store.
In the meantime, these are the fibers that Pat gave to both of us. This is some merino, which I think we will be cleaning.
This is Black-Faced Scottish sheep roving. It has a great bounce, although it is more coarse, to make a good beginner’s roving.
And then we have some absolutely filthy merino roving that we will be learning how to clean. It’s full of dirt, lanolin and little bits of damaged wool to pick out.
I think it’s a sign of how far gone that I am that I think it will be fun to clean up a clump of filthy animal hair!
My knitting runs in bursts. Inbetween knitting a t-shirt, starting my first lace wrap, finishing my first pair of Monkeys and learning how to seam my first sweater, you would think that I would learn my lesson and stop starting new projects!
However, this story has a happy ending. Remember this yarn? Named Wood Elves, it instantly brought to mind the play that my older sister is starring in. She is playing the role of Hermia in Midsummer’s Night Dream by Shakespeare.
Yes, that is a finished object. A hat.
Pattern: The Sand and Sea Tam
Yarn: Handspun from Enchanted Knoll Farm Pencil Roving
Colorway: Wood Elves
I love the colors. I think I could pass as one of Titania or Oberon’s fairies or as a short, stumpy and odd looking elf in Middle Earth.
OK, maybe not. But a girl can dream. After all, they stuck around for 4 months after the bloody council before they left. That’s plenty of time for me to work my…wiles.
Let’s put it this way: I am the most unlikely person to have become a knitter. The other day, I turned to my mother.
”If you had to pick between any of your daughters,” I said, “Would you have ever picked me as the person to start knitting?”
She grinned slightly.
”No,” she answered and I could tell that she still couldn’t believe that I was knitting.
This Friday, I added a new skill—spinning. Heidi, at Ravelry under the name knittinggalore, took pity on me. I wanted a spindle, badly. She had a spindle that she no longer needed. In fact, the exact spindle that I wanted; a Little Si spindle from Cascade.
Guess what came in the mail on Friday?
It’s light, smooth and beautiful. But Heidi didn’t just sent a spindle. No, she knew that I was learning how to spin, so she tucked in a little surprise. A light, fluffy merino surprise that weighed 3 1/2 ounces—hand-dyed pencil roving in the colorway, “Woodland,” from Enchanted Knoll Farm.
That pencil roving made me look a genius.
I grabbed the roving, my spindle, and used the leader that Heidi had already thoughtfully attached.
Yeah, and…well…as you can see from the picture above, I was kind of sucked in. I spun all of it. Every last bit. I washed it, and now it’s dry, fluffy skein of amatuer, spindle-spun yarn. I didn’t have to draft anything. I spun. I wound. My family gaped.
“Let me try,” my younger sister insisted.
Left to my own devices, I never would have picked this color. But that name, Woodlands, instantly reminded me of that famous comedy, A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Maybe I have it on my mind because my older sister is acting in a college production of the play. She causally strolled home and announced that she had snagged the role of Hermia. The play starts next month; meanwhile I am forced to read everyone elses’ lines so that she can practice.
I would guess that it’s around a worsted weight. It’s single-ply, because I have no patience (or skill) to try plying it yet. Did I mention that this is soft?
At the yarn store this Saturday, LeAnne was forced to listen to me prattle about how much fun that I had, and how cool this was, blah, blah, blah. She offered some advice–don’t weight your drying yarn; that’s what you do to weaving yarn, not knitting yarn. I grabbed the phone and told my younger sister to take off the (literal) hand weight that I was using because a book—oh hallowed book—that said that I should. Book VS LeAnne, who do you think won?
The pencil roving spun very easily, and it made me so much more confident. The beginner spinning class starts on the second Saturday next month. Pat, the owner of the yarn store, will be teaching the class. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, my friends.
Now I have to make something with my yarn!
If you’ve read any old literature at all, you’ve run across at least one of these stories. Possibly originally published in a Sunday school paper in the early 18-19th century, they revolve around the Poor But Honest Young Lad. The PBHYL usually has a saintly mother who washes clothes for a living, rubbing her Christian knuckles raw across the dirty linen of the town. This boy doesn’t swear, smoke or drink and he spends 18 hours every day sweeping the streets or selling papers.
Suddenly, a Secretly Wealthy Man shows up on the scene. Maybe his horses bolt and the young lad boldly seizes the reins and stops them from killing their master. Or maybe the SWM hires the young lad as a clerk to check his books.
Usually, this Rich Man arranges some kind of weird morality test. He leaves $500 in cash on his desk and leaves the poor clerk all alone in the office with it. Or he says, “I know I can trust you, here’s the key to my safe deposit box. Take this large lump of gold and put it into there, please.”
Now, in Real Life, the young man would do the moral thing. He would steal the $500 and save his mother from the drudgery of being a washwoman. However, in these stories, the young man valiantly resists temptation—although one wonders how stupid you would have to be to seize such obvious bait—and suddenly, the Rich Man realizes that this is the honest, good boy that he has been looking for.
”John,” he says, laying a fatherly hand on the young lad’s shoulders, “I’ve made a lot of money in my lifetime. Never had time to have my own family. I want my money to go a good person, the kind of person that I know will do good with it. You’ve proved yourself to me, and now you’re heir to my millions.”
I love these stories. I’ve always wanted to have some rich person randomly leave me their fortune because I held the door open for them or because I smiled at them. This lovely vision provides a lot of incentive to be kind and good, even though these fantasies belong strictly to the realm of, “It only happens in books,”.
So, when I first posted in the RAK group on Ravelry (Random Acts of Kindness) I didn’t really expect anything to happen. I simply said that I wanted a spindle or roving, and that Little Si looked nice. Suddenly, I received a message from a lovely woman called knittinggalore sent me a message. Not only did she have a spindle, she had a Little Si that she didn’t want to use anymore!
But the story doesn’t end there, although it certainly brightened my day! I’m waiting for it to arrive. THANK YOU, Heidi!
Continuing on: in my Thursday post, I included some pictures of my local yarn store, Market Street Yarn & Crafts—check out the new website! I sent a message to Jamie, the person who is putting the website together and told her that she could use any of my pictures on the site. She sent a quick message back, saying that next time I dropped into the store, I would have to sign a form stating that I gave her my permission, etc, just to have everything proper and legal. I said, of course, that’s fine.
So when a large envelope came from the yarn store, I immeaditely assumed that Jamie had mailed me the release/permission form. I slid my finger under the seal and promptly cut my finger on the metal tab. I yelled, handed the envelope to my older sister, and ran to dab at the cut with some tissue. The Artist (my sister) opened it for me and handed me a sheet of paper. Still holding the tissue around my finger, I grabbed the picture, ready to affix my signature to wherever it needed to go.
Then I paused.
This wasn’t a permission form.
Across the top was emblazoned, “Market Street Yarn & Crafts Gift Certificate.”
I sucked in my breath. Under Gift Certificate Amount was not an amount of money. It simply said two words.
Yes. That’s right. In my bloodied and trembling hands, I held a certificate for the Beginner Spinning class that is starting next month. The Beginner Spinning class. The spinning class that costs seventy-five bucks! The class that I’ve wanted to take, but was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to afford.
There was nothing on the certificate to tell me who sent it. I sent an incoherent message to Leanne (aka: Elrond) asking if she knew anything about this. In the midst of my wild hope, I somehow wondered if there was some trick involved.
Leanne sent back a discreet message, stating simply that the gift certificate came from an anonymous donor, not associated with the yarn store. Not someone that I knew from the yarn store. It was, in fact, a genuine mysterious person.
I have been in shock all day. I still can’t quite believe that this is true. I have racked my mind, trying to pinpoint who it could be. It’s not my parents, I know that. It’s not from my knitting buddies. I have no idea who gave me this very amazing gift.
So, Mysterious Person, if you read this blog, you know that I’m saying THANK YOU. Just…thanks.