28 August 2007
Fiber Goddess (On Being Finicky)
My spinning wheel lives at our house in the country, which is fine, except that I thought, Where am I going to find anyone to teach me how to spin in the country?
This question was idly bruited over dinner with friends, who answered: oh, about two miles down the road.
Down the road, at a house tucked behind a thin veil of trees, there is a house where there used to be a fiber shop filled with needles, yarn, books. There used to be a flock of sheep. There used to be eight looms. Now there are only three looms, and the fiber shop has closed; and the woman who used to run the looms, breed the sheep, sell the fiber said, when I called her, Sure, she would be happy to give me lessons.
I find knitting a good discipline because it requires a certain amount of picky detail, which is not something that comes naturally to me, and which, as a result, I have instinctively sought out at different times in my life to counterbalance my tendencies to soar with grand ideas into the clouds. But there are aspects of the discipline of knitting that make me itch: writing down a pattern, for example. I like the idea of making things, less the idea of regulating what is made.
I think of fiber gurus, however, as having a natural ability to focus on details and write down patterns. So it was an unexpected gift to find that the fiber guru who just happens to live down the street embraced the creative part, rather than the finicky part. She dreamed bigger than I did. She pulled out bags of silk fiber, skeins of merino, thick handspun like colored dredlocks. She talked about dyeing without keeping track of the dye lots, combining different fibers to see what happened, buying a whole fleece that we could prepare together.
At one point as I was spinning I said, embarrassed at my beginner's yarn, Oh, it's not very even.
And she said, I've never spun an even yarn. You want an even yarn, get storebought. The whole point is that it's not even. I mean, why am I going to all this trouble?
Which is a nice comment on the quality of being handmade - the unevenness and un-finickiness of which is part of what I enjoy about knitting in the first place.
(This might even reconcile me to the wobbliness of my Baby Surprise Jacket. And after all, the buttons are pretty cute.)