Too Much Ravelry Reading

Ravelry is absolutely wonderful – IF I could stop spending massive amounts of time reading all the cool information there. Today I was perusing, as usual, the spinning sites and got to thinking about finishing singles. This is something that came up several times at my CT workshop. It seems that several folks were plunging their singles in hot water, then plunging them in cold water, then thwacking them against the deck railings to finish them. WHAT??? Well, after several people told me that they do it this way, I started asking questions and the answer I got most often was “because Judith says to do it that way.” Don’t get me wrong, I really, really, really admire Judith McKenzie McCuin. In fact, I have been chasing her all over the country, keeping up with her teaching schedule in the hopes that she will be giving a workshop close enough for me to attend. I’m sure that any class she teaches will be a wonderland of information. HOWEVER…. why go to all that work when you can finish singles more simply and still get great, useable singles to make into a fabulous project? If I were going to weave with my singles, I would be tempted to finish them Judith’s way. They should end up slightly felted and would probably better withstand all the banging about that accompanies weaving. I don’t usually weave with my singles, though, I knit with them or crochet with them. For that, I simply soak them thoroughly in whatever temperature water comes from the tap, spin the water out in the spin cycle of the washer, pop my hands around the inside of the hank to straighten it out, and hang the hank from the kitchen cabinet knobs to dry. If there is a bit too much twist, I might hang a dishcloth over the hank to keep it a bit straighter, though not anything heavy because I want the elasticity to stay in the singles.

This brings me to Spin Off Magazine. Again, I have great admiration for the information that is so generously given in that magazine. I have learned a great deal from reading it every quarter and often wish that it would be published more frequently. HOWEVER…. if all I want to do is replicate a hat that is made from two-ply yarn spun to equal a worsted weight yarn, do I really need to know how many twists or bumps per inch I need to have? I would go mad trying to stop and start my wheel to keep track of my twists per inch. I spin for the relaxation of it and to see what happens IF…. My classes have all come from my experiments of what would happen IF I did such and such. I am the eternally curious spinner. I’m not saying not to take such things into consideration if it matters to you, just that there is no Spinning Police (SP) that will come and take your spindle or wheel away if you don’t happen to know off the top of your head what your twist count is.

Another thing I noticed in CT – there were a LOT of spinners there, so it was easier to notice things – was that many spinners would get in some kind of spinning or plying bind, the wheel or the fiber would be getting out of control, and they STILL KEPT TREADLING!!! There is no rule, law, or Spinning Police motto that says “Once you begin treadling on a spinning wheel, you can never stop the wheel until you finish spinning/plying.” Nope. I checked. No such thing. If the spinning is getting away from you, STOP TREADLING!!! When I noticed this most was when I was teaching Navajo-plying. I was amazed at the first-time Navajo-pliers who felt they had to keep the wheel going and ended up with the most awful mess. From my perspective, learning to Navajo-ply is best done with the wheel working almost not at all. I showed a few folks how to do it with minimal wheel involvement and the sighs of relief should have been heard all the way to Georgia.

So what is the point of all this? K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple, Spinner! Yes, if you are learning a new technique, learn it properly. Yes, if you are going for your COE in Handspinning, count those twists per inch. If, however, you are spinning for the joy of it and what you are doing is getting the results you want, keep doing what you are doing in the simplest possible way. Spinning has been happening for hundreds of thousands of years. To finish cotton, do you think the ancient Egyptians boiled it after wrapping it around a pvc pipe with holes drilled in it? There were no pvc pipes!!! Folks did what worked in the simplest possible way to get the end product they wanted and needed to use in their finished weaving, netting, whatever. BTW, I’m not big on adding more heat to my Georgia home, so I usually finish my cotton by boiling it in the microwave in a Corning Ware casserole dish. It’s simple, easy, takes little time, doesn’t heat up the house, and gets me back to the spinning wheel in record time.

What quick and easy tips and tricks do you use with your spinning? Or are you doing something with your spinning that has you constantly saying, “There has to be a better way.”? Let’s hear it for simplicity!

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Weekend With The Nutmeg Spinners

I just returned from my weekend with the Nutmeg Spinning Guild on the CT/MA border (sounds like an immigration nightmare!). What a fun time! As always, I learned as much as I taught.

On Saturday, I was embraced by over 100 spinners all in the same room with spinning wheels whirring, knitting needles clicking, and vendors, vendors, vendors! Whew! It was a wonderfully overwhelming experience. I was so, so tempted to buy, buy, buy, but Charlene had my wallet tucked firmly in my bag under her seat and kept getting her feet in the way so I couldn’t get at it. It wasn’t that she didn’t want me to buy more fiber – knowing that there is no more space in my studio (but, hey, there is still the guest bathroom that needs to be “accessorized”, right?) – but she already knew the boxes and bags that I needed somehow to get back to Georgia were already going to fill her car on the way to UPS. (Did I say that she and I visited yarn shops on Friday???) I did manage to purchase one roving in almost fluorescent colors – I had to buy it because I used it to demonstrate stripping! I couldn’t give it back after that, could I? Chris of The Painted Sheep dyed rovings in several different colorways for the workshop and every one of them was awesome! The Magic of Spinning Handpainted Fibers workshop was really fun and I got to see some award winning yarns of the spinners while walking around assisting with the various techniques. I think it is correct to say that “a good time was had by all”.

Sunday was a smaller, but no less fun group. We were on the upper floor of a fire station and had plenty of room to spread out for the Spinning The Sun, The Moon, and The Stars workshop. Again, I learned as much as the wonderful women who came for the workshop! And these women definitely know the rule that “eating and fiber arts are kindred spirits”, having brought all my favorite foods to share for lunch. After the spinning portion of the workshop, many stars were started and one was completed having each point a different color. Beautiful!

Bobbie, an alpaca farmer and the guild’s librarian, rode with me and Charlene to the meeting after which she took us on a tour of their small farm. All her alpacas are so people-friendly and I got nuzzled over and over again. Then we visited her farm store and she gave me some alpaca yarn mill-spun from the fleece of Berto, the bad boy of the ranch (he is such a bully that he gave another of the boys an ulcer!). I am going to make something that will definitely “kick butt” so Berto will be proud. Check out these cute alpacas at www.summerbrookalpacas.com.

I got so many new ideas from the great conversations with this group of awesome spinners that I will be busy with them for months to come! If you want to meet some of these wonderful women, you can visit them on Ravelry in the Nutmeg Spinners group.

So what are you working on? I will let you know my projects next time!