I bought my first spindle at the Purple Purl in Toronto, June 14, 2008. It was World Wide Knit in Public day, I was at a "yarn tasting" event with my then-five-year-old daughter, and I had previously decided this was where I would take the plunge. Amy Singer, of Knitty fame, was running the tasting, and she very gladly pranced about spinning silk trying to show me how it worked. I bought it, hook, line and top whorl.
Fast forward four months. I was driving across Pennsylvania on highway 80 on the way to NYC. I was near the Poconos. SOAR, Spin-Off Autumn Retreat, just happened to be 5 miles away at a resort in the mountains. Then I got the Interweave Knits email: "Workshops and classes are full; but if you are in the area, you can attend the SOAR Market. "
Me and two kids parked. I grabbed my barely used spindle and made a sign. CAN'T SPIN. PLEASE HELP.
Nancy of Nancy's Knit Knacks pulled me aside. Another couple of very kind ladies let my youngest treadle their wheels, and then helped both of them felt balls. Fiber people -- I love you!
I bought lunch and trotted around from salad bar to salad bar trying to satisfy the ever-changing hunger of a 3 and 5 year old, then I went outside to a small playset and let the kids play. I sat on top of a picnic table and spun silk. It was beautiful and smooth. The whorl gently turned. The fiber did what it was supposed to. The October air was a touch crisp, but the sun was bright and mellow.
It was a set up.
I left and went to New Yorl I felt fairly confident I was on the right path, and continued to have fun with little fiber samples that the kind Amy Clarke Moore gave me. My daughter spun in Grand Central Station as we waited for a friend. All was positive and happy.
Then I went home. I dug down into the happy fiber bag and came up with some beautiful brown and forest green merino roving from Frabjuous Fibers and got it started drafting and attached to the, you know, sticky thing. By all intents and purposes, it should have been the start of a beautiful relationship, but instead all hell broke loose.
I spun that puppy to its completion, ending only a month ago after I broke my fourth reconnecting joint on a borrowed spinning wheel's footman, but I could tell even a year ago -- I was spinning, well, crap. Rumpelstilskin, the antagonist in the fairy tale of same name, had a wonderful gift. He could spin straw into gold, and in doing so, although he was a horrible ogre, saved a beautiful girl's life and promoted her to royalty. I, on the other hand, took perfectly beautiful merino and turned it into feces.
Today I am spinning with the most disgusting fiber. Were it plastic, it would be an old, marbled, school lunch tray. Were it a bowling ball, it would have gnarly, disgusting swirls. I think it was someone's carding experiment. A teacher must have said, "Listen! Everyone take a few different colors of dyed roving and card them together evenly!" The carder wasn't listening. It is a bad example of Canada's Ethnic Mosaic: pockets of people retaining ethnic diversity living harmoniously with other cultures side by side. Well, these colored roving bits are living side by side, but it is not a peaceful coexistence. The green wants to take over the group, the blue has a different consistency and demands being spun before the others (that is, it quickly slips into the draft before the other colors are taken up). Red is just hanging out. The black is natty and won't easily draft. The yellow roving hates the world and is full of a bitterness it is trying desperately to pass on to living creatures. All together? It should be a brown mass of, well, crap.
What is happening though?