yarn love and story time

Handmaiden Sea Sock

Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved yarn.

She liked to look at all the lovely, vibrant colours that talented dyers came up with.

From the dye studio at Holiday Yarns

She like to touch the soft, sometimes silky, sometimes rough textures that all the talented spinners came up with.

She even liked to take pictures of yarn.

IndigoDragonfly MCN

One day, she learned that she also loved to make her own yarn.

Fibre dyed by Spunky Eclectic (colourway: Zombie Twilight) and spun by yours truly

And she loved to make things with her pretty handspun yarn.

Pretty Thing (design by The Yarn Harlot) made from my handspun silk/alpaca

I’ll have you know that while I was trying to write that entire touching section above, Nicholas was inciting Buddy to do a happy dance one foot behind my chair. The whole floor was shaking and I was being whalloped by a gigantic fluffy tail. This is what I endure for my art, people.

And now, I have completely and utterly forgotten where I was going with that lovely train of thought.

Hm. OK, let’s try this. I get asked this question A LOT.

Why do I spin?

I spin because I love it. I love the textures of the fluff that becomes yarn; I love the magic that makes yarn appear right between my own fingers; I love the feel of spindles in my hands; I love the way a wheel sounds when it is turning; I have discovered that there is nothing, simply NOTHING to beat the experience of knitting or weaving with yarn you have spun your very own self. Handspun yarn is alive in a way millspun yarn can never be. Embedded in its twists is the spirit and energy of the person who sat and made every single inch of it between their bare hands.

Handspun yarn is like the Velveteen Rabbit of yarns: It’s more real, because it’s been loved into being.

Someone in the comments asked me for resources on learning to spin. I may have gotten a wee bit carried away: I made a Learn to Spin page.

All that lovely handspun

Last time, I posted a photo of a gorgeous crocheted blanket (Babette) and said I loved the idea of making a blanket in bits and bobs of meaning-filled handspun..but didn’t fancy crocheting it.

Then a friend of mine, Annie, sent ’round this photo:

Seaming progress

Ladies and Gents, I think we might have a winner here. I’m now going to stalk Annie and see if she will divulge the project details.

All YOUR lovely handspun: A couple of you offered to send me YOUR handspun to be part of my blanket. I was utterly and completely gobsmacked by those offers. You’d trust me with your beautiful handspun? GASP. I’m so honoured. I barely know what to say, it’s such a lovely idea…

Let me think about it for a bit, OK? I mean. Wow. I’m still just kind of reeling from the idea. Thank you, though, so much!

Story Time: Barbara

Last post, I said that I’d really like to get to know you better, and I asked you to email me with little stories about yourself. (Here’s what I said if you want the details.)

I’ve received some truly lovely emails from you folks. Thank you. I want to acknowledge them each individually by return email, so if you haven’t heard back from me, it’s just that I haven’t quite gotten to yours yet!

I picked one of the emails at random, more or less, to share with you on today’s blog. It didn’t come with a photo, but I chose it partly because of the wonderful picture it paints of a house filled with the love of all things fibre.

Here’s what Barbara had to say about how she got mixed up in the wonderful world of yarn:

My aunt had a loom on one of my visits to her when I was in my early 20’s.  It seemed like a cool thing and I watched her weave. Ten years later (in the early 80’s) , I picked up a rigid heddle loom at the Ashby Flea Market in Berkeley – thinking how hard can it be?  I got a book a the library  – and started haunting Straw into Gold, winding off just enough yarn from their mill end section to weave little scarves that I then sold to my friends.  I could whip out a scarf in just a couple of hours.

The “bad” part about Straw Into Gold was everything else they sold spoke to me too and it was not long before I had a spindle – the huge bottom whorl boat anchor – and some roving.  Learning to spin was it for me.  I used my singles as weft in my scarves, and to crochet with, but had no idea about plying or other ways to use my handspun.

One day there was a notice on the bulletin board for rooms to rent in a house with fiber artists.  I thought that the term fiber artist could be stretched to include me, so I called.  I met the owner of the house – Catherine de la Cruz and knew that I wanted to live there.  She had two spinning wheels in the front room, knitting machines and a garage full of fleeces.  I spent the next year with her – doing all sorts of fibery stuff.  I bought a loom and she taught me to weave.  We spun wool in the the grease and I learned to dye.  We went to the Renn Fair in costume and spun on spindles to show how it was done.  I still have the Ashford Traditional wheel that she sold me when I moved out of the house.  She was so generous with her time and tools, my love for all fibery things really started with her.  I’m probably the same age now as she was then, and I hope that I spread to others that passion for working with wool that I got from her.

thanks so much for writing your blog.  I look forward to it

~Barbara in Arizona

“Joy comes to those who have the heart to transform their pain into art”

Thank you, Barbara, for writing and for letting me introduce you to the rest of the folks here. I love that image of a house filled with fibre artists. That sounds like every yarn lover’s dream house, actually! (When do I move in?)

Oh, and I’m glad I’m not the only one seduced by Straw Into Gold…they were my very first local yarn shop, back when, and I totally blame them for sucking me in!

Want to share a bit about yourself with me, so I can get to know you? Email me at wiseheart AT gmail DOT com. It’s OK if you don’t want me to post any of what you write, just let me know in your email what you’d like me to keep “just between us” and what might be OK to post here on the blog. Thank you!

Random Good & Silly

1. Need an unbearably cute puppy picture, anyone? Yeah, I thought you might.

2. Good news! The Earth is going to be made child-safe, according to The Onion.

3. And finally: The Bird Herder. A must-watch-to-the-very-end video.

About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Two toddler-age kittens, 1 permakitten, 2 grownup cats, 1 beloved dog angel, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life. I suppose that the 5 cats make me 1 crazy cat lady; OTOH, apparently, yes, I do need that much feline supervision.
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14 Responses to yarn love and story time

  1. Barbara says:

    Thanks for posting my story Sandi. I spend a lot of time aspinnerating and aweaverating my friends – spreading the fibery love and changing the world, one new fiber artist at a time. My dream is to retire from my workaday job and assume my “real job” – doing this full time. The trick is going to be supporting myself at the same time.

  2. Jennigma says:

    Yes. Let us send you our handspun. I have all sorts of small samples and test bits that I’ve made over the past year. Some of it’s decent, but not enough to do anything with on its own. It would love to come live in your house.

    You could probably request we knit our own damned handspun and send you squares of your requested dimensions, and many of us would love to send it off to live with friends. 🙂

  3. Rachel says:

    Oh that poor Dobie…. not bad enough to be slipping and sliding on that floor but the indignity of being chased into the crate by the parrot!

    My handspun (such as it is) is small and very much “newbie” in that it is thick and thin where it wants to be. But I would be honored to either donate it to you to be knitted into a square or to knit it and send it to you to use.

    I’m slowly becoming aspinerated. Too much time, too little to do. Wait, strike that, reverse (name that movie!) Too much to do, too little time.

  4. Mireille says:

    What a wonderful idea for all the spinners out there to send you samples for your blanket. Your words and stories bring us warmth and happiness, you should let us return the favor!

  5. Mardi says:

    I’ll send you some handspun too, if you want it!

  6. AnneS says:

    Hey there spinners, I thought that the idea was to use up Sandi’s extra bits and pieces of handspun. If we just send her ours, isn’t that cheating? Isn’t it a far better idea to make up our own squares then send them?

    Mind you, as a spinner, I haven’t enough handspun to make a square. Any fleece in my stash has settled gracefully down into the bottom layers of my stashing regions, out of sight, barely tickling my knitting mind.

  7. Lisa says:

    Ewww no!!! Not that one for your HANDSPUN!!! It is way too special for that.
    Check this Franklin Habit article out.

  8. Ba says:

    I’d be happy to send you some handspun yarn. Just say how much and where to send it…

  9. Jekka says:

    Straw into Gold was my seductress into spinning as well. My sweet SO bought me a learn to spin class, and a year later bought me a wheel from there as well. I haunted the aisles there for years until they closed.

    I (insanely) knitted a king-sized blanket out of worsted-weight handspun. All garter stitch, with fringe on the sides from the ends of all the yarns. It weighs a million pounds, and finishing it was quite the task. Sure is warm, though.

  10. molly says:

    GET THEE BEHIND ME, SANDI! my sister – a quilter, knitter, spinner extraordinaire – has for years been trying to lure me over to spinning. i had been resisting strongly (i don’t have time for another fibre pursuit; i’m clumsy; etc. etc. etc.) and now you come along with your seductive words and pictures, videos that actually make spinning look manageable…it’s just not fair!
    she’s going to think she’s won…

  11. Annie Bee says:

    Ask and ye shall receive! Project details on my sock yarn mitered square blanket are right here: http://ravel.me/AnnieBee/syb2. There are more explicit directions here: http://ravel.me/AnnieBee/syb. (Yup. I’m a sucker for seaming punishment…) Thanks, Sandi, for the project love!

  12. Kate says:

    See…a landslide of handspun (I suspected that this would happen when Caryn made the suggestion…lol). I, for one, can’t think of a place where all of those precious little mini-skeins would be more appreciated or loved…always the trick when giving handspun away. I would be delighted for the love and spirit of my handspun (however, lumpy bumpy) to be part of a blanket made by someone who puts out the kind of love and spirit I see in this blog.

  13. Annie Bee says:

    Oh Em Gee, Sandi… if you don’t make a mitered blankie like mine, you might want to think about one of these: http://cauchycomplete.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/the-behemoth/. Also, I’d be thrilled if you’d let me send some handspun snippets to include, too, in whatever you make.

  14. Tamara says:

    Gah! I love the Velveteen Rabbit analogy–it’s so truuuuuuuuuuuue.

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