Drop spindle, revisited.

When you’ve packed up your life, have no fiber studio anymore, and are trying to keep things minimalist, the thought of spinning begins to fade to the far, far background of your mind. There’s no place to set up your spinning wheel. You don’t have any random, prepped fiber sitting out, beckoning you to handle it. And anyway, you recognize you’ve still got  yards and yards and yards of yarn with which to make stuff. (“I’m knitting down my stash. I really am.”) Forget about spinning. There’s no space, time or reason for it.

That’s been my experience since packing up and selling my house. Somewhere in my storage unit, I know there’s a beautiful Romeldale/CVM fleece just waiting to be washed, carded and spun into a springy, fine three ply. If I close my eyes I can imagine the sharp, scrumptious smell of it. I’ve got a bag full of clean white Suri alpaca ready for combing. There are three bags of wool from a Clun Forest sheep as well. And those are just the spinning projects I can recall. I know there are others packed away in bins and boxes. (Safe, I hope, from the evil f-ing moths.) With me and fiber, out of sight is out of mind. If it’s not easily at hand, other ideas and projects quickly expand to fill the time spinning once used to claim. I won’t miss the feel of wool in my hands and the delight of spinning yarn until I’m actually doing it again. Then I know what will happen. I will gasp in astonishment and say to myself “OMG, I can’t believe I’ve been away from this for so long. What was I thinking?!?!”  In a time of abbreviated space and time for crafting, spinning has hardly been in my thoughts.

So I was astonished and delighted to find myself making yarn once again this morning – purely by chance!

Studio or no studio, my sole remaining angora rabbit continues to produce wool. For months I’ve just been harvesting it and throwing it into a bag for future use. But this morning something different happened. I don’t know if it was the coffee (half espresso, half vanilla) or some weird bug bite or what. There I was, combing out the rabbit, throwing her lovely fiber into a paper bag. I was musing on my upcoming trip when a random memory floated right across the packing list I was reviewing. I pictured myself on a trip that took place more than a decade ago. I had flown to Indianapolis to spend time with some old and dear friends from college. Having recently learned to spin, I took my new drop spindle and some prepared fiber with me. I was utterly obsessed with this new skill. While the four of us travelled around to visit architectural monuments and eat great food, I dragged my supplies with me and spun in the back seat of the car. In fact, I think I even refused to go look at one of the buildings because I was WAY more interested in spending that time spinning than in looking at extraordinary architecture. I’m sure my friends thought I’d lost my sanity. (Luckily they are very old and also exceedingly tolerant friends.)

I shook my head, coming back to the present moment. And yes, the proverbial lightbulb was positioned above my head, blinking like mad. IDEA!!! 

“Yikes. Don’t I still have a drop spindle somewhere? Could it be in the basket of beloved fiber tools I squirreled away in my sister’s studio because I couldn’t stand the idea of storing them in a cold, concrete storage unit?! Is it possible that I

just

might

be

able

to

spin

?!?

Sure enough, jammed in with all manner of hallowed fiber tools was the drop spindle I’d taken on that trip so long ago. I was surprised to discover I’d not gotten rid of it. When I first learned to spin, it was on a drop spindle. Most people start with a spindle because it’s an inexpensive way to experiment with the twist and movement that turns loose wool (or silk or mohair or alpaca or cotton or rabbit hair) into useable yarn. Spinning wheels are expensive. But within six months,  I’d purchased one.  I doubt I picked up that drop spindle even once after my first spinning wheel arrived. I loved everything about it — the beautiful wood, the way things moved so I could handle fiber (almost) effortlessly, the speed with which I could turn out yards and yards of lovely yarn. I’m afraid my little drop spindle was left by the fibery wayside.

But I still had it! I snatched it up and ran back outside to the courtyard where I’d been combing out the rabbit. I scooped my hand into the pile of angora wool I’d just collected and in no time at all I was spinning again! Sure, the drop spindle is a little wonky from being out of alignment. It didn’t help that I dropped it half a dozen times while my hands took their sweet time remembering what to do. But hey, I was spinning!!!

And I thought “OMG, I can’t believe I’ve been away from this for so long. What was I thinking?!?!?”

I spun and spun and spun. Finally I had to put it down and get on with my day (darn it). Then I had a dangerous thought. I tried to push the thought away. I tried to stuff it way down deep in the ever boiling pot o’ thoughts that exists in my head. But it would not be ignored. 

Brain: “Wouldn’t it be fun to take this drop spindle with me? I could spin some yarn right there for the owners at Castle Creavie after we shear their sheep! I could find some fiber in the Cotswolds and spin it into sock yarn for future hikes! I could…”

Brain, two seconds later: “What?!? You haven’t spun anything in months and months because you don’t have the time or space for it and now you are going on a two month trip where you will have even LESS time and space available to you and you want to take a frickin drop spindle with you? Woman, you are clearly unbalanced.”

Yep. That’s me. Unbalanced, rabbit-owning, homeless, fiber obsessed crafter. Headed to the UK. With a drop spindle.

  
Look! I still have a drop spindle!


  

I can even make yarn with it. That’s so cool.


  

Sophie loves when I get distracted from a grooming session. “Yes, Suzie! Look at how exciting that drop spindle is! You’d really rather be spinning on it than combing me, wouldn’t you?”

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