Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010: Odyssey New

Happy New Year, Folks!
I hope your end of the year has treated you to the company and relaxation it should. A couple nice gifts aren't so bad either. There's another particular holiday I don't like to talk about that falls between Christmas and New Years and means I'm a perfect number now instead of a cube like last year. For that occasion this year, my mom and my stepmom, two of my primary fiber enablers, presented me with a Golding Ring Spindle, which are made in Saxtons River, VT, just north of where I grew up.

How I'm a spinner has been changing. I started spinning about a year and a half ago when the grade 2/3 classroom where I was working had a Louët S51 DT as part of the equipment. Just so long as I spent some time teaching the students to spin on it during the day, I could take it home for nights, weekends and vacations. So, up until the end of August, it was in some degree my wheel. But, with the move up to 7/8 this year, I had to give the wheel back, which was very sad for me. I liked not only the feel of that wheel, but the sense that I understood mechanically what was going on with it. So, when my mom and stepmom moved from the western border of Vermont to the eastern side again, into a much smaller place, my stepmom offered me custodianship of her beautiful Jensen double-drive wheel (she usually uses some model of Majacraft, and largely, her Ring Spindle), I naturally took her up on it. Getting used to the Jensen has been quite a process though, partially because it's so different from the Louët, and partially because it had a lot of older parts. The leather footmen, for example, which connect the treadles to the metal pieces which turn the wheel, both snapped early on in my using it. Also, it's gorgeous and not mine, so I'm doubly afraid of breaking it. Even beyond that, because of the construction, it's never going to be a wheel I feel comfortable just hoisting over my shoulder, chucking in the backseat of my car and taking wherever like I did with the Louët. When it comes down to it, I am and probably will continue to be afraid that I will break it somehow.

And so we come back to the Ring Spindle. I've tried spindling some before, but it feels like there's more of a learning curve than wheel spinning, which is a little strange because the mechanism of it is more intuitive on the whole. The challenge is learning how to use movement efficiently and how to manage the fleece, and those are both going to take practice and accepting feeling clumsy for a while, going back to more uneven handspun for a while. On the other hand, what I've seen Sadelle do with a spindle is pretty impressive, so I know what the unit is capable of making in the right hands.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year to all!