Little Seeds

For just getting back to work after 4 days off, I am unusually exhausted and feeling pretty run down in general. Because I have committed to writing more, I very much want to post an entry, but my thoughts are as gray as the sky outside my window (rather, my conference room windows; I certainly don’t rate a window seat in this building). All weekend long, I had deep, serious, and interesting thoughts, but that was because I also spent several hours at my spinning wheel over the weekend. Now, I find it a struggle to string two syllables together and form a coherent thought.

I find a spinning wheel to be an excellent prescription for an unsettled mind. It is a balm to disordered thinking. Would that I could bring my spinning wheel to work and share its healing powers with my coworkers. Now I am about 75% of the way finished with 8 ounces of Ashland Bay Colonial Multi-Colored Blue-Green, which is hands down, now my favorite Ashland Bay colorway I have ever spun (and I have spun, quite literally, miles of Ashland Bay fibers in the past decade).
(Image borrowed from Paradise Fibers, whom I highly recommend as a resource.)

Long before I was a knitter, I was a spinner. Before I was a spinner, I was a sewer. I have had a fibery disposition since childhood, but it was not until I found the Society for Creative Anachronism in the Autumn of 2000, that I found an outlet, not to mention a real education, for fiber preparation and use. My tutelage began at home, many years ago, with my mother and Nana. Nana tried to teach me to knit when I was a young girl. I got as far as learning a backwards loop cast on, and that was it, I just wasn’t up for more than that yet. Mom tried to teach me her crochet stitch, but to me, crochet is like trying to write with my off hand. It just “feels” uncomfortable somewhere in my brain. As I got older, Mom taught me some basic sewing skills; even before I was in my teens, I had sewn several things from patterns including some basic skirts and an apron, and eventually, by my late teens, I had moved on to some fantasy costuming to include a “renaissance” dress, and a bunch of crushed velour hooded cloaks (I was so deep and cool back then, and wasn’t Emily Dickenson just the best poet ever?).

When I found the SCA, I had the basic skills to make my own very simple garb out of fabric scrounged from the $1 per yard bolts found at the Farmville Wal-Mart near my college. Then my education began on natural fibers, their properties, their pros and cons (mostly pros), and why oil-based manmade fibers generally suck. Linen, wool, and cotton fabrics became prized finds, particularly in the old $1 per yard Wal-Mart days.

Within a year, I had decided I wanted to be a weaver. I purchased an inkle loom at my first Pennsic, and within a couple of months of learning basic tabby woven bands, I wanted to handspin my own yarns to weave.

It turned out that handspun yarns did not work well for weaving inkle bands, but I had both skills anyway. I continued to spin and I continued to weave (using commercial cotton and linen yarns mostly), I continued to sew, and continued to learn more about the nature of various fibers and their inherent qualities.

Of all my various skills I had picked up through the SCA, I loved spinning the most. My main problem was that I had nothing I could do with my finished product. And not being a user of my yarn, I didn’t have a good grasp on the subtleties of yarns and how a yarn is spun could affect what its best use would be. But I continued spinning away until I reached a point where I either had to stop spinning because I had no purpose for all the wool I was turning into string, or I had to actually do something with all that string.

The short answer is that I stopped spinning for a while. I think it was about a year or two. But that wasn’t the right answer for me, it turned out. I missed the act of spinning and creating yarns; I missed having a reason to paw through deliciously colored and divinely soft fibers at SCA events, particularly Pennsic. I missed the mind-ordering act; the quiet time when you can turn your thoughts inward if you are feeling introverted, and the loud, laughing times when you can turn your voice outward and share good times with friends if you are feeling more extroverted.

So it was in 2007 that I determined that I would teach myself to knit and finally purpose all those miles of string I had created. I turned to online resources to learn the skill, and of course, that has been the genesis of my knitting blog and all you have seen here since.

It turned out that I actually knew next to nothing about spinning and making yarn once I learned how to do something with it. I learned all those singles I had spun over the years (because plying on a drop spindle is sort of a pain) were not very useful for much. Most were underspun, too thick or too thin, or just in too little quantity of for a real project. Knitting opened my eyes to the complexity of yarn. I never guessed something as simple as string could need so much thought and attention.

I spent this past weekend spinning, knitting, and sewing, among all the other normal domestic activities most people partake in on any given weekend, and I spent a lot of time reflecting on how thankful I am to my Nana, my Mom, and the various teachers and mentors I have had within the SCA, all of whom imparted to me some major and minor bits of fiber wisdom. My fingers were surprisingly retentive of the memories of a 6 year old when I cast on my very first ever knitting in this decade with a backward loop cast on. My garb all harkens back to those days at the kitchen table with my Mom, cutting out simple patterns and sewing things like aprons and A-line skirts as part of my homeschooler education. My knitting only happens because a lady whose name I only knew as Seraphina spent 30 minutes with me at an SCA event with some Jacob wool and a spindle.

Who knew that each of those moments would turn into something greater? Each little learning moment was like a little seed planted in my brain, some which lay dormant for decades, and as each little seed has blossomed, it has in turn planted a new seed which would become some new interest and skill.

And how cool is that? I cannot wait to find out what comes next.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by bdb on January 18, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    Great entry. I’m not on wordpress or I would “like” it!


  2. Posted by Kitty on January 18, 2011 at 8:38 PM

    Is Seraphina the artist currently known as Oddny?


    • Posted by laruse on January 18, 2011 at 8:42 PM

      I was wondering that myself today. I am pretty sure the Seraphina in question was a lady from Sacred Stone, but honestly, it was like Spring Coronation 2002, and I have taken some hits on the head since then, so….probably?

  3. That is one of the colors I thought about at Holiday Faire. I love the blues/greens but I went with the burgundies/reds cause I figured I should pick for you not me;) I don’t know from string but BdeB had said Ashland Bay so I knew what to ask for at least.

    I too grew up with fiber. It just didn’t stick with me so well. I am glad that you have a peaceful thing!

    PS-Oddny was Seraphina and from Sacred Stone at that point.


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