Sunday, 29 April 2007
I had a fantastic day yesterday. My friend E and I went to a spinning class at the Handweavers Studio . We have been planning this for a while since getting a little taste for spinning when we went on the Skipnorth holiday in March. There were seven of us in the class, taught by the remarkable and inspiring Nancy which took us back to the absolute basics of having a raw fleece in front of us, identifying all the parts, choosing fibre to spin on a spindle straight from the fleece, carding and finally spinning and plying on a wheel. Above is the hard won fruits of my labour of which I am indecently proud. It may have the texture of weathered rope and smell quite strongly of sheep but for me, it represents such a lot of learning and the realisation that I really, really, really want a spinning wheel as there were moments in the day which may have lasted as long as three seconds at a time when I felt completely at one with my wheel, enjoying the rhythmic sound of it spinning and watching what to me is still magical, the transformation of a handful of fluff into yarn.
Of course the practical part of me knows that I don't really have room in the house for more fibre related equipment, nor really the time to do it justice but when did that ever stop me...
The studio and shop in themselves are a real treasure trove of fibre arts related gems. I could have quite easily been separated from a great deal of cash but I confined myself to these finds that I am absolutely delighted with - eight back issues of my favourite knitting magazine, Interweave Knits. They are all from between 1999 and 2003 and the patterns, for the most part are such classics that they don't go out of date. I am sorted for bedside reading for the next few weeks.
One of the other great things about doing a course is the opportunity to spend time in the company of like minded people and to discover levels of connectedness. One of the participants is planning to set up a fibre related charitable programme with women in Albania, for which both E and I enthusiastically volunteered our help and support. It involves supporting women in relearning traditional craft skills as a way of supporting them both emotionally and hopefully economically. Who said you can't change the world with knitting?
One of the strangest moments of the day was when I was diving under the table to fetch an escaped rollag (listen to me dropping random spinning terms into the conversation...) and noticed my neighbour's beautiful socks. I said ' You're a member of the Rockin' Sock Club aren't you?' She nearly fell off her chair in surprise. There can only be a handful of us in the UK as it is a US based company. For the uninitiated the Rockin Sock Club is an annual subscription where participants are sent a mystery skein of Socks that Rock yarn and a pattern every two months. I recognised that she was wearing last month's kit and also remembered that I hadn't started mine yet with this month's yarn arriving any day. Of course, I had to dash home and in between admiring my hairy spinning and flicking through the mother lode of old Interweaves I got started on my sock club sock. I can't think why I never started it before - the colours are absolutely gorgeous and the pattern is ingenious. One of the benefits of a club like this is that it encourages me to try new techniques as I can get teribly stuck in my sock knitting ways. It's a toe up style which I am not very familiar with but so clever. I only have one question for the expert knitting community at large:
The pattern calls for a crochet cast on of 32 stitches which is later 'unzipped' so that the stitches can be picked up. The instructions say that the stitches are cast on through the bumps on the back of the chain. Now, not being a crocheter I can barely construct a chain, let alone tell the back from the front and when I come to unzip I end up picking the stitches out individually. Help!
As you can see I have made a fair bit of progress on the sock and have also resisted the innuendos and sniggering going around the knitting community about what the shape reminds them of. It does though, doesn't it....
On that note I shall sign off possibly the longest post I have done so far, complete with links now that I have discovered how to do them. One final word of thanks to Lixie for mentioning my baby blog in one of her recent podcasts as well as her reference to one of my more embarrassing domestic escapades in her debut edition!