Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Solace of Spinning

Like many people this week, I have spent an inordinate amount of time paying attention to the news. Whether it's radio, TV or the newspaper, it's not good. It's sad, depressing, and made me angry and shamed. It made me angry to see people left out in the elements, exposed to danger, with no food, water, toilets or comfort. No one seemed to be in charge, there was much confusion, lots of fingers pointed, and few results.

Also like many of us, I tend to *keep busy* during stressful times, mostly, for me, with spinning. I have spun through fires, floods, and the few and far between earthquakes. 9/11 was too stressful, I think I spent that time cleaning, and weaving (much more energetic).

It is with the best of intentions that I set off for the studio each morning this week, with a task to attend to, only to find myself sitting down to spin, and the time goes by. Much less else has gotten done. I listened to the radio, and sometimes spun in the quiet, hoping the world will recede. The TV is not in the studio, and his week it was too hard to watch anyway. Too frustrating, from this distance, to be able to do so little.

This week, I have spun up almost a pound of 3 ply Polwarth:

purple yarn4

The roving was overdyed, it was too Colors of Spring for this time of year:

purple yarn5

I had a hard time getting the color right in the photo: too dark in the shade, and washed out in the sun. These were taken in my shadow, which seems to give it the right amount of bright light, and some mitigation from the glare.

I've also been spinning mohair rug warp, from commercially prepared top:

rug warp

very tightly spun and then just as tightly plied, this is a three ply (see the dime?). It was easy, in my tightly wound state, to add that extra twist, to add that extra spin to the ply. Perhaps it was therapy. I made a niddy noddy out of PVC, and then submerged the whole skein under water to set the twist:

rug warp2

I wanted the yarn to dry under tension. It has a scary amount of twist in it, constantly kinking and curling back on itself. It is tamed in it's present state, who knows what will happen when I release it from bondage. I've got three of these bundles of yarn, yardage as yet undetermined.

The projects from those stressful times of busy-ness remain connected forever to the events at hand. This shawl was spun of an angora, silk and merino blend, then dyed and woven with a merino space-dyed weft:


It was spun while trying out a new wheel (a Jensen Saxony, which I later sold), during OJ's trial. I did not watch all of the trial, certainly, I had to go to work, and sometimes it was just too boring. But it was on for weeks, it seems now, and this yarn was spun then.

I use the shawl all the time: it is comforting on airplanes, it helps define my space. It is comforting in stranger's homes where I sometimes stay, it is a bit of home that travels with me. I wish you could feel it, it is soft and fluffy now, after years of use. I often have it over my shoulders on chilly mornings here. It resides on the back of the couch, and I brush my fingers on it as I walk by. But somehow, it is also always a reminder.

It is not only spinning that is a comfort. This sweater was knit in the hospital, all one summer, as I sat with my parents while they lay dying:


They both died the same summer, of separate illnesses. There was time to sit and talk, and time to sit and knit, and many times I was glad to have something in my hands, to be able to look down, and so not break down and cry.

The sweater is way too big for me, I was not paying attention to details. I used what yarns I could grab as I went out the door, and made it all up as I went. I wear it anyway, often. It is what I put on over my nightgown and under my robe, on cold winter mornings before the fire is lit. I've had it for fourteen years now, and know that someday it will wear out, but for now, it is my reminder of those days.

I am grateful for the roof over my head, a clean bed in a quiet home, shoes, clean underwear, my own food, water whenever I want to drink it, the clothes in my closet, the books on my shelves, and my spinning, knitting and weaving. If these things were suddenly gone, taken by forces beyond my control, I could go on. But I would have parts of my life missing, reminders of my days, and of events known only to me.

The news this week is improving, but the people most affected will need help for a long time to come. Some of them may become recipients of the results of our cash donations, and some small children may just get new purple hats.


Blogger claudia said...

As it appears that they are sending a bunch of evacuees to Mass., there might indeed be some knittin' to be done.

7:21 PM  
Blogger Deanna said...

Could there be any more lovely response than to spin peace? Thank you for the reminder, and for sharing your deep, heart-felt thoughts.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Arianie said...

Hi Sara i really love your yarns. What spinning wheels do you spin on? I see an electric wheel looks like a Spin Tech? Is that one? What other wheels do you spin on?


7:30 PM  

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