I think a lot of us need and deserve a little self-care right now. And self-care looks different for everyone–my friends Anna and Nicole went to the spa, my husband gave up on the book I was forcing him to read and started reading about Chrissie Hynde instead, Hillary Clinton is going on walks with her dog…it’s whatever works.
This weekend, for me, it was playing with fiber. Now granted, I am touching some form of fiber every day, often for hours at a time. I knit and crochet professionally, and it is oh my goodness the best job that I could ever imagine having, and I am grateful for it every day. Buuuuut when it’s been a year like this one when I’ve had so much knitting and crocheting work, I haven’t been able to work with fiber in the way that I want to.
(Not complaining! Wouldn’t have it any other way! Please Universe, don’t strike me down and take it all away, ok?)
Ahem. So I took a day off, and went with a friend to Middle Brook Fiberworks to go indulge my version of self-care. I hadn’t met the lovely and charming Anne Choi before, but now I kind of want to move in so I can squeeze her sheep and eat her mom’s kimchee every day. Surely she wouldn’t really mind?
Middle Brook Fiberworks is a lovely space, with an airy, modern barn, with actual sheep and woods, and every kind of fiber you could hope for. And Anne is a good-humored, kind teacher who will push you past your comfort point, but make you laugh while she does it. I emerged a much better spinner.
Case in point: she forced me to spin this bfl combed top with my left hand, on an unfamiliar wheel. Why? I’m still not entirely sure, but it seemed to be about forcing me out of my comfort zone. As such it is thick and thin and personally a little offensive because I can spin a balanced yarn you know but the exercise demanded that I stay on my toes, and really think about how I was doing what I did–whereas the first time I learned to spin it was just ohmygodhowdoesonedothis.
I made a lot of unhappy noises. But that sense of uncertainty really helped me learn what I asked Anne to teach me–how to spin worsted.
Spinning worsted means essentially allowing the wheel to do the drafting for you–your only job is to keep up. It’s scary and counterintuitive but once you’re comfortable with that feeling–which spinning left-handed helped me to be–you’re able to spin much faster, and because you’re not gripping the yarn so tightly, it is so much fluffier and softer.
I was able to do it with this roving–I forget what kind it was, sorry. But I don’t know that I would have been able to do it with the combed top. It’s so much easier to spin roving–it’s already looser, it’s like it wants to be this fuzzy, fluffy thing. Combed top wants to stick to itself more, and requires more work to draft. I’ll have to practice and get more confident and spinning worsted before I think I’d be able to successfully do it with combed top.
Of course, by that point, I’ll probably have to relearn with my left hand again, and go back to making unhappy noises.
Anne had us make one more yarn. I combed this crazy beast myself, adding in glitter and mohair and bits of something and just WHO KNOWS and I spun it worsted and it’s all inconsistent and lumpy and I love it.
I’m going to confess–I never really got art yarns. I think they’re beautiful, and certainly a work of art in themselves, but I’m not gonna knit a sweater out of that. Some folks do, and they rock the heck out of them, but I am just not that cool. I couldn’t carry it off. So what’s the point?
I discovered that the point, for me anyway, is that they’re so fun to make. And I don’t need to make a ton out of them–as Anne pointed out, a stripe of art yarn at the yoke or cuffs of a sweater is just funky enough to make something my own, without becoming something I couldn’t pull off without feeling self-conscious.
I want to go sit at my wheel and spin. I want to go buy some cards and some mohair and some glitter and make some crazy-beautiful yarns.
I can’t do those things right now. I have a blanket to crochet. But it’s a rainy day, and having a blanket on my lap and a cat by my side is pretty amazing, so no complaints here. I’ll keep up the self-care and I’ll keep up the work, and sometimes I’ll take a break and spin my cares away.