Saturday, June 18, 2011


All these spheres abound.
Stars and wheels go round
while making not a sound.

In the circle, God is found,
Whose circumference know no bounds
and in the center of God lies
You and I.

Spinning through our lives
While the force of nature thrives,
Eternity survives
In eggs and worlds and I.

I am slowly settling into life in my new apartment.  Slowly I am returning to the fiber hobbies that have brought me so much pleasure.   Last night I felted some wool shapes to use in felted soap I am making.   I worked at the table on my little balcony.  So nice!  Later, I practiced my "Navaho Plying" and got a bit of a handle on that.  I thoroughly enjoyed my hobby last night.

In the midst of my moving chaos, I thought perhaps my fiber enthusiasm had gone for good.  Thankfully, that is not so.  I am loving my new apartment!  It is in such a beautiful neighborhood.  I have birds and bunnies, trees and squirrels, and warm summer nights looking up at the stars.  How could I not blossum here.  Who would've thought that all this could be found in a "city". 

So the creative juices are running again.  I haven't "waxed poetic" yet.  But I thought I would share a poem that I wrote back in 1994, long before I got into spinning.  It seems so appropriate now as I spin on my wheel . . . "spinning through my life" and my fiber!   As I look at the year I wrote this poem, I realize that it was written while I worked for a State Park.   It was my first lay off from my newly gotten seasonal employment.  I loved those days.  I loved working at the park during the summer.  And I cherished those winter lay offs!  That was my time to be creative.  I painted, I played my guitar, watched movies and documentaries (and Gilligan's Island, yes I did) and stared at the ceiling if I felt like it.  I do miss those days.  At the time I wrote this poem, I had the luxury of sitting in my recliner and watching a Joseph Cambell documentary on "The Power of Myth" for six hours.  I was so struck by his teachings that this poem was born of it.  Those were better days for me.  As I look forward to better days in my new abode I plan to delve back into the things that make life worthwhile . . . friends, music, reading, art.  It's good to be back in that place again!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

New Beginnings . . . Again

This Easter finds me in a new home (actually, apartment).  I had to take a hiatus from my spinning in order to make this move.  I began my move in February . . . one of the most cold, windy, snowy February's I ever remember!  With the help of "very good" friends I managed to get into my new apartment on March 1st.  I've been trying to unpack and reorganize ever since. 

I parted with many things (although my friends say not enough things).  It felt good to let go of useless "stuff".   It was cleansing to rid myself of old expectations of a life never realized;  to move on with life as it is.  Okay, not everything was relinquished so easily.  One friend had a great time ridiculing  me for my insistence on hanging on to my old wooden tennis rackets (which are in damn good condition, thank you!).  I insisted that one day I will be fit and able enough to participate in tennis again.  I didn't care how much she laughed at me.  After being sidelined, crippled up and engulfed in the pain of my newest diagnosis (RA) I think perhaps she was right.  Tennis rackets, anyone? 

I moved massive amounts of yarn!  I was somewhat amazed out how many boxes I had of yarn and fiber for my spinning.  Much of the yarn was in big steralite tubs so I was able to find it amidst the other boxes.  It didn't take me long to get into it and back into knitting & crochet a.s.a.p.  I managed to knit a hat and to make some knitted dolls for Easter.  My creative mind has been churning away at all the variables I can make with this same pattern.  If I could produce half as fast as my mind comes up with ideas I would probably be able to make a living at my hobby.  Instead I have lots of scraps of paper with ideas and sometimes drawings for all the things my mind dreams up.  That will be my legacy when I die . . . scraps of paper and lots of yarn! 

Last weekend I finally got to the box with my bobbins and the fly wheel for my spinning wheel.  In the next box were bags and braids of fiber to be spun.  I could feel myself almost quiver with anticipation.  I had only intended to unpack these things but found that I couldn't resist the urge to spin.  I sat down with my wheel and treadled clockwise, stop, and treadle counter clockwise to see if I still had my treadling chops.  When I felt secure that I could still treadle well enough, I picked out an older bag of fiber to spin.  No use in wasting the good stuff if it turns out I have to learn all over again.   I was under the impression that this fiber was alpaca, dyed a dusty turquoise blue.  I have no idea what it actually is.  As the fibers are pulled through my fingers, it almost has a foamy quality I can't describe.  It felt so good to spin again.  Yes, I was rusty but since I haven't spun enough to be a pro,  it wasn't as if I had to learn all over again . . .  just resume my practice.  As I spun the fiber I considered that I had quite a bit of it and it would be a good fiber to spin as a single (not plied) yarn.  I can then use this single ply yarn to learn what is called Navaho Plying.  Navaho plying is like crocheting using your hands, instead of a crochet hook.  You get a nice plied yarn in the process and have more control over the color if you have spun a variegated yarn.  A good skill to learn.

The best thing about spinning came to me as I sat there, concentrating on my spinning.  As I watched the fiber pass through my fingers and fed the yarn through the orifice and onto the spindle . . . my mind became still.  It was so peaceful.  My mind is usually like a four lane highway, more like the Autobahn.  Thoughts & ideas, snippits of songs, worries, memories all racing to go nowhere.  When I sit down to spin, all is quiet.  I hear crickets in my brain.  And it is Good!

May this Easter bring everyone wonderful new beginnings . . . peace . . . and crickets!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Things I have learned so Far . . .

I've been spinning all of 8 months now.  I have become more brave in my endeavors and thanks to my Ravelry comrades I've become more adventurous.  (   Do check it out if you knit, crochet or spin.  It's like Facebook for fiber fiends--but better!)

It's been quite a journey.  First, I'd like to give a shout out to "Babes Fiber Garden Wheels" without whom I would never have been able to afford a wheel.  And also to Craig Johnson at Worthington Acres (here in PA) who was so kind as to sell me his used Babe at an awesome price!  As there is snobbery in all walks of life, I am sure that some spinners may look at my wheel as if it is an abomination.  It is not wooden, there is nothing traditional looking about it.  It is made of PVC pipe and the spinning wheel is made of a wheelchair wheel.  It is not a wheel to be displayed and gazed upon for it's workmanship.  It is a wheel that works wonderfully and easily.  I used to look longingly at those beautiful wooden spinning wheels that cost between $1000 to maybe around $500.  That is so out of my system now.  Which leaves me so much more time to look at all the wonderful fiber out there waiting to be spun!  And if I really get bored of looking at my Babe's Wheel, one day I can paint it up add some kitsch and have fun with it like many other Babe's owners have done.

So, back to spinning . . . I have made my first "plied" yarn.  My non-spinning (and some non-knitting friends) love seeing what I'm up to with my spinning.  And when they ask me questions, I realize how much I take for granted that I have actually learned in this time!  I was recently asked what "plied yarn" is and I had to think of a way to word an explanation.  So I told them that when you spin one yarn it is called a "single".  And if you want to make a double ply yarn, you spin two bobbins of singles, you take the ends of those two yarns and spin them together onto a third bobbin.  What I didn't tell them was that when you spin, you always spin in one direction (most people spin clockwise which is called "Spinning Z-twist).  However, when you ply, you must ply in the opposite direction (counter-clockwise for most, called "Spinning S-twist).   There is also another way to ply called "Navaho Plying"  or "N-Ply".  I've tried this with lousy results, but will definitely keep trying.  With the N-ply, you are actually "hand crocheting".  You attach your single to a bobbin on your wheel.  You then make a loop and you  pull  another loop through that loop, you begin your spinning and you just keep chaining, as you spin, until you are done.  It is fascinating and hypnotic to watch, look it up on U-Tube!   This makes a  three-ply yarn.  It is often used when people want more control over the color of their finished yarn.  You can choose where to begin your loop based on a color, if you want multi-hued yarn.  

Plying gives extra strength and volume to your yarn.  It also help to even out places that may have too much twist in them.  It oftens help to smooth out my amateur yarn by helping to even out the spots that I spun thick and spots I spun thin.  When I'm a good spinner, I will be able to spin a consistent yarn (this may take a while!).  But here's the thing . . . when you play a musical instrument and you are learning, you simply play "bad" music.  When you are learning to spin and have all kinds of lumps and bumps and inconsistencies, you are making 'Art Yarn".  Bonus!  lol.  I'm a big fan of art yarn!  I have read, many times over, that once you master the ability to made a consistent and balanced yarn (balanced refers to the right amount of "twist" -- not too much, not too little), it is very difficult to go back and make your thick and thin, lumpy, bumpy art yarn!

This is such an addictive hobby!  One thing keeps leading to another.  I started with knitting and crocheting.  I knew all along that I loved the tactile sensation of handling the yarn as well as creating something unique.  Which led me to desire to  spin.  Now, the siren song of dying wool is calling me.  Lucky for me, my sink is too full of dirty dishes to even attempt that now!