Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Knit Fast, Die Young
in Sabotage colorway,
from Spincycle Yarns.

Dear Needled,

I want to suggest, today, a website:  Spincycle Yarns.  A few days ago a friend and I met the charming young proprietresses at a Stitches West Convention. You might ask what is Stitches, and I did too, several years ago when I was taking lessons in learning to spin fiber on a spinning wheel. (Someone out there, I am hoping, took my earlier admonition to learn to spin-in this post and the next).

 Spinning yarn began, for me, at the Maker Faire. There was a kind and charming woman there, too, and she was spinning wool on a drop spindle, which she offered to us to try. I bought a little bundle of chocolate wool roving from her, and went home to build my drop spindle out of an old cd.  I made an un-even and beautifully hard-twisted and kinky ball of yarn with my drop spindle, and then I used it in knitting a hat.

 The next thing to try was the spinning wheel. If you are like me, and I know that you are, dear pals, you have seen them, inverted wooden unicycles, in museums, even in a few people’s homes.  You will have read about dear old Sleeping Beauty, and the other one, who had to spin gold from straw, and these poetic images have been murmuring quietly in your mind for years and years, beckoning.

I met a learned elder spinner at the local guild, and she offered classes, so I signed up. Let me say, at this point, that spinning wool is simple- you don’t even need a drop spindle to do it - the fiber can be rolled on your thigh, or twisted in your fingers. It is simple. Making a yarn that is uniform, and juggling the twiddly bits of the spinning wheel is, however, a little tricky to get the hang of at first. I was really quite discouraged at my classes, because the other student was a whiz at making uniform yarn. I don’t know why she thought she needed a class- she recognized and knew the names of all the obscure spinning accoutrements: Niddy-Noddy, Diz, Lazy Kate. She also knitted perfect even stitches into perfect even garments which she wore to class and was duly admired in and for. It was interesting, this envy I had for her flying fast fingers and her fumble free thumbs, because I didn’t even like her sweater- limp, lifeless, burgundy thing, who wants a burgundy sweater in a teensy weight yarn?  I wanted sweaters that looked handmade, that were lumpy and colorful and fabulous, and unlike anyone else’s sweaters. I desire this same quality of wabi-sabi in pottery, paintings, and baked goods.

But I digress, this class mate of mine was a talented and gifted spinner and knitter. I was not, and I am not, but spinning was still fun and I still learned to do it, and I still love to do it, and I hope you will try too. Be patient with your fingers and remember to breathe and let go of the fibers, so they can run up into the orifice and wind around the bobbin.   Elsie Davenport's Your Handspinning is a good book to consult if you want to get started without a lesson.  I hope one day I can show you how to do it on my spinning wheel, Taddy. I’d love to introduce you to my loom, Brid, too, and maybe tell you the tale of their former owner; wonderful, inspiring, & kind; Ursula.

The woman who taught me to spin, a dynamo of a woman, mentioned Stitches to me (yes, of course the Burgundy Sweater knew about it already!), and just now, I finally went to their Marketplace, which is a cavernous indoor space filled with little sections of wonderful things to look at and buy. I was very lucky to get to attend, but you are lucky too, because I am giving you the website addresses of the best of what we saw at Stitches, and you can go there anytime of the day or night and plan your new sweater, hat, or scarf: Maybe even in a nice burgundy color....

2 Guys Yarn Company.

Coco Knits.