Thursday, May 24, 2007

When Wooly Dinosaurs Roamed

There’s an interesting Spinning Meme going around the blogs but there’s no point in me posting my version. Since I’ve been spinning for more than 30 years (yikes!) I’ve pretty much bolded everything on the list. The only things left are ones I’m truly not interested in or haven’t had at least a taste of in a class or something. No boast. Just decades of obsession…er, experience.

It’s interesting to me though how many of the items on the list weren’t available when I first began lo those many years ago. My first experience with spinning was a clunky plywood bottom-whorl drop spindle (aka boat anchor) and some icky dried up greasy carded fleece. It’s a wonder I still spin! And it’s all T-Man’s fault. He bought the kit for me. It even included a couple of pages of instructions. Heh.

Luckily I stuck with it and even got some hand cards to help prepare the raw fleece which was all I was able to get. A year later the finances were at a stage where I could buy a wheel (the Sleeping Beauty that I recently gifted my daughter) and my spinning really took off. I was still making thick singles and 2-plys most of the time but they weren’t as lumpy bumpy or as thick as in the beginning. Remember this was the ‘70’s — funky and natural was in. After the wheel I got a drum carder which was much easier on my hands. I also learned to dye wool in my canning pot after I got tired of natural sheep colours. It wasn’t that hard because I had learned how to dye with Procion MX for tie-dye and batik in high school. Little did I know I could have used the same dyes only with heat and vinegar on the wool! We live and learn.

There wasn’t much in the way of fibres other than sheep to play with back then. I spun some dog hair for a few people. (I drew the line at poodle! It’s coarse hair not wool.) I found myself collecting dirty camel fibres off the fence at the zoo. I went to the local (now sadly defunct) sheep fair and bought bags of lovely fresh fleece. Which of course needed washing, teasing and carding. Roving, sliver, top — huh? All I knew was rolags and batts which I made myself. Commercial dyed, painted, blends — nope. Soy silk, bamboo, Angelina — uh-uh. Wool combs, hackles, fancy little spindles — no way. My newbie spinners today have it so easy! It’s like being at a huge banquet as opposed to grinding your own wheat. Enjoy. I do. Even though sometimes I like to wash, tease, card, comb, blend, etc. myself. It’s about having options. Otherwise we’d just go to Wally World and buy a sweater. And that wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.

However, I just hauled out my entire spinning stash from the attic and NOW I’M FRIGHTENED!!! It’s the Fluff That Ate Vancouver! I’m not kidding. See?


Doesn’t it scare you that it takes 2 photos to fit it in? And there’s more you can’t see underneath and behind that stuff? Note that it all came out of that little hobbit doorway in the back of the second photo. And it has to go back in again somehow. After I re-inventory, re-label, try to purge some stuff that I know I’ll never use and re-pack what’s left. I’m so grateful that I didn’t find any m*ths in there anyhow. I do love the new gigantic Ziploc bags for m*th prevention and general corralling of wayward baggies but they don’t stack. They avalanche. So how many more Rubbermaid bins do you suppose I need to contain this lot? I just went out with T-Man and the VW van and bought 4 honking big ones and 4 smaller ones but I seriously doubt that’s enough. Pardon me while I go clear the dust out of my throat.

Erm…is it true that some people are able to spin up everything they have and then have to go buy more? That they don’t have bags of fibre they’ve stored since 1985? I now have officially reached SABLE (Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy) and until at least a goodly portion of this becomes yarn, I’m on a no-fibre diet. Unless I “accidentally” find some Shetland wool at the ANWG conference in Alberta in June that is. Because believe it or not I actually don’t have any Shetland at all. Don’t look at me like that! I do know what I’ve got here, ya know. Just not how much of it there really is. Keep your fingers crossed that I don’t find any Shetland in Red Deer or it’ll be the fibrous equivalent of the straw that broke the camels back. I’ll be in constant danger of being smothered in an avalanche of spinning fibres as soon as I open the blue hobbit door. If it helps any, I’m taking two workshop/seminars on spinning at the conference: one on spinning for controlled striped yarn and the other on creative recycling for handspinners. Maybe it’ll encourage more usage. One can only hope.

It all makes great insulation in my attic anyway. That’s my excuse and I’m stickin’ to it.

1 comment:

Rosemary aka fabricfan said...

I also have SABLE, and like you in more than one endeavor. If I took all my crafting supplies and added my books to the mix, it would make a mountain! No wonder, I am not ready to downsize.