Looking through my yarn photos of 2011, I was shocked to discover this skein of yarn I finished on Saturday is the first yarn I've made this year. How can it be? We're halfway through March already. Bad spinner. Lazy spinner.
Notes: Silk is a mysterious textile. Because silk is so lustrous, so seemingly smooth, so um, silky, that you'd think the fibers would glide through your fingers with just a gentle flick of the wrist. Think again. Silk has the tendency to cling to every craggy nook of your epidermis. You think your skin is soft? It's not. This roving was quite frustrating for me to spin until I discovered a game-changing magic ingredient: cocoa butter. The lotion provided a filmy barrier between my rough winter skin and the flyaway silk, taming the fiber into a more consistent spin. Whew. After the introduction of the lubricant (about a quarter of the way through bobbin number two, unfortunately), I felt I could finally ease into the project. I also let the singles sit--each of them, at different times--for at least a month a piece, which is not normal. I do prefer to let freshly spun yarn rest for at least 24 hours before plying (to alleviate a bit of the singles' energy), but in this particular circumstance, I only left them so long because lately, I just haven't given spinning very much brain space.
I've been saving that for picking out spring yarns. Silks? They're definitely on the list.
100% BFL, both from Yarn Hollow....wow, am I that predictable?
And, wouldn't you know it, when I got home on Monday night, I had a little package waiting for me there, too. Whoops.
100% superwash BFL (L) and 100% superwash Merino (R) from Fat Cat Knits. LOVE!
And this one, which has already gone through the orifice once and is ready to ply:
I can typically curb this sort of manic cash-flashing, but I actually have an acceptable excuse for this particular stash enhancement. I'm preparing for (and only just announcing it for the first time at this very moment!) a trunk show of my very own.
Throughout Thanksgiving weekend 2010 (Friday-Sunday, November 26-28th), I'll be showcasing my handspun yarn, handpainted spinning fibers and samples knit from my own line of patterns, designed specifically for beautiful, unique skeins of handspun yarn. The trunk show will be here at the shop, with an artist's reception on Friday night from 6-9 (can you say 'chocolate and sparkling wine'?) I'll be introducing a few surprises as well--it's going to be a crazy awesome weekend.
So, long story short, this stash that I've most recently acquired is not stash at all, but soon-to-be yarn.
It all makes perfect sense to me.
(While writing this and waiting for my blog photos to load, I may or may not have bought this. I'm terrible.)
I've been taking a good, hard look at my spinning life these days and I realize I've got a problem. I had no idea it had gotten this out of hand.
I mean, I kinda knew, but it only became obvious when I discovered out of the eight bobbins I own, there's only one with nothing on it.
(L to R: "Razor Love" Merino roving dyed by yours truly--not pictured is the second bobbin currently on the wheel; 50/50 Merino/silk in colorway Unnamed But So Freakin' Awesome It Doesn't Even Matter by Hedgehog Fibres; slightly-felted Merino from Old Sheep. Unfortunately, I did not order my Merino felted. Kinda not the point.)
(Superwash Merino from Madeline Tosh. I've only had this going since, oh, let's see--November?)
(The token free bobbin.)
I've got my hands in so many piles of fluff, I can't seem to claw my way out of it.
When it comes to knitting, I'm about as promiscuous as they come. I have almost no guilt about abandoning projects at any time, for any reason. Just a half-sleeve left to go before the sweater's done? Eh. It'll get done. Next week. Maybe. Only made it as far as the cast-on before that hat got boring? No problem--just shove it in a bag, stuff it in the closet and fuggedaboutit.
But with spinning, I really enjoy the sense of completion. From start to finish, you're only talking about a six-to eight-hour commitment for a 4 oz. roving. (Top, sliver, whatever.) Who can't devote six hours to one project?!?
The fact is, there are several reasons to keep your spinning projects to a bare minimum, most of which I don't need to explain to you. (I think you already know.) But humor me, here. I'm talking out loud. Coaching myself through the "why" things need to change. This is my Step One.
Tension. Unless you happen to be a Master Spinner (or a copious note-taker), chances are your tension is different this month than it was last January. Most likely, you're a better spinner. But even if you're not (which I find highly doubtful), your tension is just different. You may be drafting more evenly. Treadling at a slower rate. Maybe you forgot which ratio you were using the last time. The drive band on your wheel may have worn out a little. (I know, I know--you definitely should have changed your drive band at least three times since January 2009. In a perfect world, you would have.) There's nothing more disappointing than sitting down to ply what you think is going to be a well-balanced yarn, only to realize the singles on Bobbin #1 are kinky and riddled with energy, and on Bobbin #2, they resemble something more akin to pencil roving. It's just not pretty. But when you're diligent about sticking to one project at a time, it's more likely that you'll spend a little time every day for about a week (Perfect World again) creating something quite consistent.
Actually getting more done. It's like the tree in the forest question--and with this one, I have a sneaking suspicion we may never know the answer. If a spinner spends time seeing each individual project through to completion, would the spinner actually finish more projects? When you spread yourself so thin that you're working on 12 projects at a time--20 minutes here, one hour there--in essence, you're not really getting anything done at all. (Yes, I can hear you, you process people. I get it--it's not all about the finished product.) But you've got to admit that every once in awhile, it's nice to finish something. So you can start something else.
Stash Guilt. Really? Do I need to say it? There is such a thing as too much fiber. But not in the way you think I mean. Actually, there really isn't such thing as too much yarn, too much fiber, too much stash. (Let's not get crazy here.) What I'm saying is this: there's such a thing as too much mediocre stash. And what's the best way to get rid of your stash that you don't really love so you can buy new and exciting stash that you do? (Hint: ends with "-use it".) More on this later.
Mostly, I feel guilty because I try hard to keep my spinning simple. Nine times out of ten, I use the same technique every time I spin. I have the same favorite fiber haunts. I am fiercely loyal to a select few wool breeds. I only have one wheel--Chauncey, my Matchless--and I try not to spin on Pip, the shop's Ladybug very often, as it's more of a display model than anything else. I don't plan on ever buying another wheel--there's nothing mine can't do (especially with the assortment of add-on features). I would never sell Chauncey, even if I sold the shop and quit spinning forever. I just wouldn't. And, unlike several friends of mine, I don't feel the need for another wheel because I only need one. (It's almost as foreign a concept as having a second bathroom in our house. When there are just two of us, why on earth would we need more than one?) I feel guilty about having so many projects on the wheel because I haven't finished much lately and because I'm trying to use--and be happy--what I have. Having too much at one time puts me over the edge.
Which is why this is going to sound weird. Stay with me.
I'm not an advocate of buying less for the principal of having less, I'm advocating on behalf of buying less rightnow, so as to achieve a different goal. Spin like a madwoman now, finish up those projects, tear through that stash as if someone's holding a gun to my head and then, when all the bobbins are free and clear, my favorite part about this whole process gets to happen:
4. BUY MORE.
There's so much gorgeous fiber out there, I'm tripping over myself every gosh darn day to get at it.
I'm trying to use what I have, not because I don't like Stuff, but because I like Stuff so much. I need to spin through the fiber that was so hearbreakingly beautiful last yearmonth week so I can experience the exquisite beauty of the fiber on the market this week. It's like the consumer's version of Be Here Now. I don't want less, I actually want more. This is my plan to get it.