This post is (also) part of a spin-along through 51 Yarns by Jacey Boggs Faulkner, in the Wool n’ Spinning community. Scroll down to the “Spinning” header for that content. For other posts in this series, check here.
Are you ready for this? This is going to be a drive-by of a post. How many times have I sat down, thinking of writing a post, but it turned out I needed to do something instead of writing about it. But reflecting on my month does help me collect and understand the meaning that has been in it, so I’ve been looking forward to this. Here goes!
It’s been a blessed time of intense transition. It’s hard to believe that a month ago we were still in Maryland. In the last month, I’ve been to California for a family funeral, visited friends in Brandon Manitoba, and flown to our new home.
We’ve been here just under three weeks, and in that time so much has happened! We’ve had church twice, we’ve made new friends, we’ve met several neighbors, and started two kids in school.
A lot of our time has been spent arranging and adapting. Our sea can with most of our possessions isn’t going to arrive until mid- to late October, and a good chunk of our sealift is going to be late too, but that has been a blessing in disguise. We’ve had to make do with less, ask for help, and get out of the house for things to do as much as possible.
Our neighborhood is quiet and relatively safe, and the kids have spent a lot of time outside on their little bikes. (This is the street next to ours; it’s my favorite with all those colorful houses.) There are lots of kids around. Recently the girls have made friends with two neighbor girls who are a little older and have an enormous trampoline.
The last four days we’ve had rain and then high winds, so we’ve been indoors more. A taste of things to come, I’m sure, as Rankin Inlet is infamous for having lots of blizzards. That’s when we build forts, cook and bake, watch TV, and of course… make stuff!
The above represents the sum total of spinning that I have done in the month of August. I don’t know how much it weighs. I didn’t make a swatch. I did it to say I did it, on an hour with my CPW at my in-law’s house.
I started out with a couple ounces of North Country Cheviot, a gift from my friend Kelly in Alberta. I cleaned it up months ago and brought it on vacation to be my nominal spinning for the month.
While still at my mom’s house, I separated out the locks, then took one of her hand combs and flicked them open. I only flicked the tips because I didn’t know better. (Why do I watch how-to Youtube videos after a task?)
I had never spun from flicked locks before. It seemed fitting for this chapter of 51 Yarns, called “Fiber I prepped myself,” since it’s the simplest form of prep.
It took ages for me to get around to sitting down at the wheel. I did it finally when I had just a few days left in Maryland, and I struggled the whole time. The truth is, we spent the whole vacation without a lot of down time, so I was out of the rhythm of sitting down and focusing on a task for more than fifteen minutes. So even when I had longer, I had trouble really getting into a groove.
Then I had a bunch of trouble winding it off the bobbin by hand (being separated from a ball winder and only having one bobbin). I gave up and settled for my tiny skein. This beautiful, clean wool definitely deserves better, but oh well. I wanted to be able to say I spun this yarn!
That was vacation mode. I’m not surprised there wasn’t much spinning. But you guys. Now that we’re in our new home, I can tell you: as someone who loves spinning, I have moved to the right place.
Literally my first friend here, I discovered, also has an Ashford Traditional. She doesn’t use it much, so she’s going to lend it to me. I’ve met another spinner already, and pretty much the biggest-deal Inuit handspinner, Helen Iguptak, lives in Rankin. (Thanks to my friend Andrea for that link.)
And the biggest thing? The biggest deal to me? Is the fact that I live in a fibershed again.
This is qiviut. The downy fur of a muskox. One of the warmest and rarest fibers in the world. And I found this in my backyard. It blew off a couple of muskox hides hanging on my neighbor’s porch. (You’d better believe we visited them! And they generously gave us some muskox meat, which is YUMMY.)
I love spinning wool, and it will likely stay my first love. But it feels like a real gift to be in a place where my love for spinning can ground me in my home instead of feeling like it takes me away from here. I’m excited to get spinning again and see what happens.
I have had one knitting project this month: faithfully plugging away at Strodie.
It’s bottom up, but I made the decision to knit the yoke before the sleeves. I’ve done this before and it just feels safer. I wanted to change the sleeves anyway, making them a bit narrower.
I finished the yoke about a week ago. Sorry for this awful picture. Following the directions for my size, the body is quite cropped. When I’m done the sleeves, I’ll block it to within an inch of its life, put it on with a high-waisted skirt, and see what I think. I have a longish torso, so I’m not going to add the I-cord finishing around the bottom hem until I’m sure it’s long enough. Also I’m not sure about the neckline; I did it twice and it’s still very tight. Again, we’ll see how it responds to a firm blocking.
About that one statement, “When I’m done the sleeves…” yeah, it’s going pretty slow. The welts aren’t a problem; I’m in a good rhythm with them, and I absolutely made a good decision investing in extra-pointy metal needles for this project. I’m just restless. I’m always like this in the fall. I’d rather be on my feet, organizing, cooking, starting new things. Still, I really don’t want this project to drag out. I’m making myself do at least one stripe per day before I do anything else fun.
But that restlessness, combined with the lack of spinning wheel, has led to something else entirely…
Yeaaaaah. This happened.
I have watched Rachel at Wool n’ Spinning get into weaving with a sort of pleased detachment. I definitely enjoy watching weaving, but I have had zero desire to weave anything myself. The fabric, the process, the equipment… no appeal whatsoever. Not for me.
Until we got to our new house.
Suddenly, I was surrounded by surfaces that seemed to me to need one thing: woven textile enhancement. We bought a beautiful black table with benches that are crying out for long handwoven cushions, not to mention placemats. The old leather couch could really use some recovering, just on a couple of cushions, and throw pillows. All of a sudden, I could see myself weaving, and the process started to sound a lot more appealing as well.
I started pricing out rigid heddles and snooping for deals on used sets, then on Thursday, we got to visit some new friends out at their cabin. The mum of that family is an amazing crafter, and when I mentioned that I was considering getting a loom, she disappeared into a back room and pulled out a bag of sticks and handed it to me.
It wasn’t too hard to figure out how it went together and how it works. My Wool n’ Spinning buddies (especially Erica, thanks!) have informed me that it’s called a student loom in northern Europe (my new friend is from Holland, where her mum found this). It looks to be a sort of enhanced tapestry loom, with a turning heddle that makes a narrow shed, and beams that can rotate (and thus make longer pieces). It will make a 9″ or 10″ wide piece.
I found this very helpful video by a beautiful maker named Wendy that got me started. I’m not doing tapestry things just yet. I’ve just been messing about with texture.
So the question is, what next? Invest in a bluprint or School of Sweet Georgia class? See if I can wind on a longer warp and do a scarf or a series of mug rugs? Get some scraps off other knitters/crocheters and play around with tapestry work? The tools are simple, but the sky is the limit. It’s pretty exciting. And I’m not the only one enjoying it.
We’ll see what September has in store. We’re still at the beginning of a very new adventure. And Jared is off last minute on an airplane to do a wedding in another community, so I’d better start working on a sermon for tomorrow…