Taking a spin
Wednesday May 07th 2008, 11:13 am
Filed under: Friends,Knit

before setting the twist (ie rinsing and hanging)

It took a moment to sink in, and then she suddenly exclaimed, “Mom! You’re spinning! I haven’t seen you spinning in” (pauses to think a moment) “years!”

I think it’s been two years since I gave Robert my angora roving. The (now gone) Robin and Russ Handweavers store once listed 70/30 Chinese angora/acrylic roving for clearance at eight dollars a pound; given that most of their customers were, I’m guessing, fiber snobs like me, that acrylic was a dealkiller and the stuff had just sat there. Eight bucks!

Mind you, premium handplucked French pure angora yarn, with each bunny individually groomed and cared for daily, tends to run at about a dollar a gram (as well it should, for that much work). A gram. Compare that to qiviut–or even vicuna. Handplucked angora, especially, fluffs out like nothing else out there, if carefully taken care of. It also felts if you breathe on it too hard.

I bought one pound from R&R, just to experiment with on my wheel, wondering why on earth someone had mixed bunny with something so lowbrow. This was probably ten years ago. The Chinese fibers were all random lengths; handplucked from molting rabbits this wasn’t. But still. I assumed it would be difficult to dye, because the acrylic would be impervious, and yet somehow, when I spun and dyed it, you couldn’t tell one fiber apart from another, and the stuff was, even if not as soft as French, definitely–I mean, this was still (mostly) bunny fur! Sheared four times a year. Wish I could grow my hair that fast.

So. I called Russ’s store back, asked how much they had left of it, and bought the whole lot, maybe fifteen pounds. I knew that that would give me the freedom to go play with this luscious stuff for anybody any time without worrying about the price of the frivolity–just go enjoy.

And I did. But boy did I sneeze while those bits of fluff flew as I spun.

I made a number of things out of it, but ultimately, my body got the better of me. I spent a long, hard time, several years, where any extra expenditure of energy left me gasping for breath or simply too wiped out for the day, and handspinning just took more out of me than I could manage. A little ironic, I thought, given what I had named my website. One of my children breaks out in hives if she touches angora, it turns out, and that was all the more reason to not spin this particular stuff.

Robert spins as well as weaves. He taught his elementary school classroom about the tradition of the medicine blanket like the one he made me, and asked them whom they would want to weave one for.

One child said his grandpa had cancer. Another child raised their hand and said *they* had had cancer–which no one in the room had known. Wow. And so they got to work, warp and weft, working together and individually, a lesson put into action on acknowledging what life is and what we can do for each other about it.

And so it was only right: I gave Robert that bag of roving. It was down to maybe eight pounds by then. I knew it would go to the best possible use at his house. He told me later his surprise that it tended to make a heavy yarn, and I nodded that yes, it does–quite pleased that he’d started to spin it. Maybe to please me, to be able to tell me he had, but hey. It will wait patiently for its time. It did for me.

Jasmin got me talked into going in on a Crown Mountain Farms order with her on some hand dyed merino roving a few months ago, and when it didn’t look like I was going to get it spun, she spun the first pound for me. Wonderful gesture, gorgeous yarn. And you know? I had another pound still. It pulled at me.

Last week I sat down and got my first bobbin spun up, picking out most of the lighter areas of the roving first. Then after a few days, I did the second, picking out most of the brighter pink areas. The resulting skein is brighter and lighter than Jasmin’s, and the darker sections left in the bag mean I can’t match my one skein. But that’s okay. It got me started spinning again, it showed me I could, and that was mission enough.  Jasmin, once again, I owe you. The yarn is, as always, a thicker one than the fingering to lace weights I generally knit these days; that may be a contributing reason why I haven’t spun much. I don’t have the feeling in my fingertips required for making a very fine yarn.

But. I am inordinately pleased with myself. It has just the very slightest degree of torque in the wet skein, a sign of my being out of practice, but not enough to impact the final fabric. It’s almost perfect.

I have some seacell/merino mill ends waiting for my drum carder and then my wheel. It’s awfully good to be back.setting the twist

14 Comments so far
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I’m so glad to hear you’re spinning again 🙂 And as always, you write the best stories <3!

Comment by Amy 05.07.08 @ 11:48 am

I’m glad you did some spinning! I received your package by the way… wow – Heavenly. Thank you!

Comment by Amanda 05.07.08 @ 11:57 am

Yes, you do write just the best stories :^) glad to see you spinning again!

Comment by marianne 05.07.08 @ 11:57 am

Horray! Yippee! Wahoo! Yay!

Bringing tears to my eyes at work, you showoff :).

Comment by Kristine 05.07.08 @ 12:31 pm


The Crown mountain stuff is my favorite. It lends itself terribly well to spinning. 🙂

Comment by Jasmin 05.07.08 @ 2:26 pm

NICE!! Yay you! 🙂

Comment by no-blog-rachel 05.07.08 @ 2:51 pm

How wonderful it must feel to be back at your wheel. That certainly is some lovely yarn.

Comment by Sonya 05.07.08 @ 4:37 pm

That is so beautiful. And what a lovely way to get back into doing something you used to love.

Comment by PrincessPea 05.08.08 @ 5:10 am

Ooh, pretty!

And? I’m on to your enabling ways. *sticks fingers in ears* La-la-la. I do not have time for another hobby. I shall not be sucked in by the roving. Not even if you continue to flaunt photos of your gorgeous handspun. Not even if I go to the NH Sheep and Wool Fest this weekend. I’m-not-listening…!
(Okay, I admit that this strategy didn’t work so well with the whole sock thing…but this time I really mean it.)

Comment by RobinH 05.08.08 @ 5:42 am

Hooray! What beautiful yarn. I’m glad you’re spinning again.

Comment by Channon 05.08.08 @ 6:01 am

I’ve been wanting to try spinning, I have a spindle and roving and will be taking classes as soon as my LYS has em available again.You are sunch an enabler, showing off all your goodies
🙂 You have inspired me not only to try lace knitting but also spinning and as soon as I get the time away from my other knitting I am gonna try some of the patterns in your book!

Comment by Danielle from SW MO 05.08.08 @ 6:48 am

I concur with Marianne and Amy: another great story! Glad you’re able to get back to spinning. (BTW, a friend stateside mentioned M&Ms have a new mint choc version and thought of you!)

Comment by Lynn 05.08.08 @ 8:01 am

Wow, welcome back to the spinning crowd, friend! Oh, and btw, if, as per your post on my blog those meyer lemons are really giving you fits, you could always send a box my way. They are truly exotic where I come from…and I would avoid the bitter pith, really I would.

One other thing. If you get a chance, wander over to my blog and consider writing a blog story about festival safety. I know you love fibery events–and I want to make sure we keep them safe places.

Comment by Joanne 05.08.08 @ 8:55 am

Congratulations for spinning a wonderful skein of yarn! 🙂

Comment by Toni Smoky-Mountains 05.08.08 @ 4:43 pm

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