Friday, February 1, 2013

Keeping me humble

Have you ever watched or read an interview with an artist, be they musician, filmmaker, etc, and seen how they answer the question: What's your favorite work of your career?

I think it's the same answer every time. They always say it's the last thing they worked on. Always. Even when it's a rock band who peaked in the 90s and is making total shlock now and you sort of feel bad for them and wish they'd hang it up (made up example). Now it's important to note there's a difference between your favorite thing and the best thing, but you have to figure there should be some overlap.

As I hung this skein to dry a couple days ago, I thought to myself, this is my all time favorite skein of handspun.


This is a 3-ply Aran weight(ish) Shetland dyed by Into The Whirled in the Sterrennacht colorway. (That's Dutch for Starry Night, naturally).

What makes this my favorite? Well, you know how lots of tween girls bedeck their bedrooms in the vaguely androgynous non-threatening heartthrobs of the day? I adorned out my room in Van Gogh posters and prints. Yup, former Van Gogh fangirl right here. Further confession: there were also a couple of Andre Agassi and Def Leppard posters. But I think a big part was the huge joy of spinning it. This was my first Into the Whirled fiber, and they dyer Cris obviously takes great care not to let the fiber felt or compact during the dyeing process. I held the fiber like a baby bird and spun it as woollen as I'm capable of. I tried to keep it as airy and bouncy as I could, and I think I succeeded. Coming back to my wheel after a six month stint of spindle only spinning turned out to be good for my wheel spinning, I think. Stay tuned to see it knit up, as I'm sure it will be pretty soon.

So is this my favorite just because it's my most recent skein? No! Because, surprise, it's actually not my most recent skein.


Behold, the disastrous first skein of cotton from my charkha. 3 plies and 0.7 ounces of doing it wrong. Oh boy. Do I have a lot to learn about spinning and plying on the charkha.

I know it looks like yarn, but trust me, it barely qualifies. It's certainly not the charkha's fault. It is, however, very obvious that this whole spinning cotton is a very different beast in terms of the amount of twist required for a stable single and plied yarn, and if I ever want to weave with this as warp (I do, by the way) I certainly need to figure out how to make it stronger than it is right now. I may try to weave with it, just to punish myself?

I'm not discouraged, though, don't worry. I love my charkha and I'm happy to put in the work required to get a skein I love as much as my Starry Night one. I've only been working on mastering my wheel for six or seven years now...

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