Friday, February 8, 2008

Turn of the Wheel

Here’s the tool that has turned my life upside down in the past few months. It’s a Robin Wheel, by Gil Gonsalves of Maine. My amazingly dear mother gave it to me last summer, knowing I would tumble easily into the world of fiber obsession.

When I was a kid, I crocheted a bit. I learned to knit when I was in college, but it never “stuck.” I knitted most of a Noro yarn vest, and a good part of a black mohair sweater, but when it came to doing the parts where I had to concentrate, I lost interest.

Mom knows best. She’s a master knitter who easily creates the most extraordinarily fabulous sweaters—the kinds I might see in the window of a zillionare’s store in the Hamptons. Mom laughs and says she’s been knitting since she was tiny; it’s easy for her. She also understands her daughter well enough to anticipate just how intrigued I’d be by this wheel. It sat in my room for a month, waiting patiently for me to unlock the mysteries of its workings. I asked around, but none of my local friends were able to help me turn flax into gold overnight.

Then I attended a local meeting of my spinning guild, and took the Robin. With the kind help of the friendly people there, I actually made yarn! Yes, it was lumpy and pitiful … but it was recognizably twisted fiber, and that was good enough for me. For the next seven months, I have devoted at least a half hour every day to spinning. My work has improved rather a bit. I’ve made baby-soft merino fingering yarn and coarse Lincoln chunky yarn, yarn with Romney, Corriedale, and alpaca. And I’ve spent a fortune on the loveliest rovings I could find.

But … just as with soapmaking and candlemaking, I’m insatiably curious about how things are created. And, as with the other crafts, I began to research everything from the best way to buy a fleece to the most effective tools to prepare it with, and how to dye it. After receiving my {mumble-th} package purchased from some other fiber artists, I carefully unwrapped it, analyzed how the colors were divided into sections of different lengths, consulted my book by Deb Menz, and decided, Enough! I took out my tiny stash of acid dyes for wool, prepared the materials, and … created my first handpainted roving. I was pleased!

And it didn’t stop there. My guild is amazing because it lends out spinning wheels and fiber prep tools for a very small fee per month. I begged the woman in charge for their drum carder, not sure whether I would love it, hate it, or be mangled by it. The carder turned out to be a Pat Green model, which blew me away; that’s a top-of-the-line manufacturer. This week, I fed the hungry carder all sorts of lovely fibers. First, I timidly gave it some Cotswold locks that I had flick-carded. Ooooo! It gave me back fluffy pink and burgundy batts with sparkly angelica. Nice! So I decided to test the thing. Today I gave the carder a meal of some dyed superwash wool, to see if I could turn an interesting result into something great. I was hooked! The batts are blended shades of amber, russet, mahogany, oak, and all sorts of woodsy tones in between.

I started working with the carder in the morning and almost forgot about eating breakfast. Then I wanted to do … just a little more … afterward, and skipped lunch. Then I decided to put my results up for sale in my store, New York Attitude (http://www.newyorkattitude.etsy.com/). Forget dinner, kiddies! Mom’s a fiberholic who can’t stop when she gets cranking. I wonder if I can convince my guild that the drum carder goes beautifully with my decor, and I just won’t be able to return it. Thanks, Mom!

6 comments:

Tina Sams said...

what beautiful stuff, Geri! I have carefully avoided fibers because it would be too easy to fall in love. Tempting, though....

Geri said...

You are the Great Enabler, Tina! It's my turn to corrupt you. Heh heh heh ...

Cindy said...

Geri, learning to spin is on my list of things to do in my life. I have 2 angora goats that I will be shearing next month for the first time and can't wait to just touch and feel the mohair. Cindy

Geri said...

Hey, Cindy! I can't wait to touch that mohair, either. Hint hint!

Phooey, that the only animal we have is an elderly dog. Even if I could spin his hair, it would be mostly gray. LOL!

salina said...

Congratulations on learning how to spin. I would also love to learn how to do that one day. I am going to have to check out your etsy shop now to look at your lovely yarn.
Take care,
Salina

Lauren {whimsy lane} said...

Hi I tried looking up a contact email for you and can't find one. I also run a blog named whimsy lane, and I hope you're not offended I'm asking this, but since your blog is no longer active and hasn't been updated in over 3 years, is there any way you'd be willing to delete it? My traffic is getting confused when they google my blog's name. My blog also coincides with my online store, so the name has been set in stone. Thank you so much for being understanding and feel free to contact me :)