Spinning for Therapy

So I mentioned a few posts back that my Sports Medicine doctor prescribed my spinning wheel as physical therapy, and not being the sort to lose out on an opportunity like that, I’ve been complying with doctor’s orders. 🙂 At one point, I figured the first thing I would do would be to spin the rest of what I need for my Percy Shawl so that I could finish knitting it, but when I actually sat down to that, I sort of panicked. I haven’t spun since May, and when I was spinning then, I had never used a wheel before in my life, and I produced my first 3 skeins of yarn in the space of a few days – and that was all. I was rather sure that there would be some readjustment time needed, and I had no idea if I’d be able to just sit down and duplicate the yarn I’d spun for Percy back then. Because of that, I decided I’d probably be better off doing a different project first. I had little question what I wanted to spin. I bought some pencil roving from Fiber Optic on Etsy a couple years ago – 4 ounces each of a brown and a green colorway – and I intended to spin them and ply them together. I was picturing a really neat, earthy, foresty yarn. Best laid plans…

What has actually happened is that once I’d spun the first half of the brown, I fell in love with the singles, and I think I have to ply it with itself instead. The biggest disappointment with that is simply that instead of having 8 ounces of finished yarn, I’ll have only four if I do that. The colors look SO nice together, too… and I’m wondering if I can find a project that I can use the two skeins together perhaps. I need to find out what sort of yardage I have first, I guess. Anyway, here are my two bobbins of brown singles.

Honestly, I think part of the problem with plying the two different colors together at this point is that my singles are too fine for these two colors. I seem to have a mental block against spinning thicker yarn, and that’s a goal I’m going to have to work on a bit. If I’d made these thicker, I still think the two color yarn would be awesome, but this fine, I’m picturing a muddy mess – not enough color definition to work.

One thing that is really fun for me is to look at these two bobbins and  be able to see how much I’m improving – almost minute by minute! My non-fiber oriented spouse was able to point to the first bobbin I spun of these two without even a moment of hesitation, and though I don’t think it’s a bad spinning effort by any means, the second is definitely better, and I’m thrilled with it.

I am SO reminded of my piano playing with this skill now. When I’m working on a piece of music, first I’m riveted to the score, focused solely on the task at hand. As time passes, I relax a bit, then with more practice, there are phrases, then entire lines that start to flow without conscious thought. Soon, not only is my mind drifting from the sheet in front of me, but so are my eyes – daydreaming or closed – while the music just happens for a few seconds or even minutes. Then all the sudden, something happens to bring me back into the real world, and my fingers will tangle, and no amount of effort will bring the next notes to my mind – and I’ll have no idea which line of which page even holds the answers. Eventually, my familiarity with the piece grows to the point that I could practically play it in my sleep, and whether I drift or not is of no matter. The piece has become mine.

Spinning this week has followed a similar progression, though not yet played through to the end. When I first sat down, I was actually pleased with myself for even remembering how to set up my Sonata. As for actually spinning… well… I found myself flashing back to the stage where I just can’t quite believe it’s really possible to take a handful of short hairs and turn them into a lovely, strong yarn. I was so focused on what I was doing for the first bit that I even missed parts of my audiobook, but before long, I found my sea legs, and started to relax. After a while, my little inchworm attempts occasionally morphed into more of a flow, then a draw, and there were moments of magic when the fiber took over and turned into yarn seemingly without my help. The magic moments began to grow, and over the course of hours, turned into minutes and more, mesmerizing me while I pondered just why and how this was happening in my hands – and making me forget to change which hook was feeding my flyer on a regular basis. Then all the sudden, the spell would break, and I’d actually start thinking about what I was doing again, and within a heartbeat, I’d have my single snap or bulge or do some other horrid thing. It’s so very fun to watch my hands as they learn what to do – and what not to do – and my experience with the piano promises me that the best is yet to come. 🙂 This is SO exciting!!!

One closing comment about the physical therapy part of this. I can feel every upstroke with my injured leg, but although it’s a pulling against the tightness, it’s not actually what I would call painful. I’ve seen a definite improvement in flexibility now that I’m spinning (though I’m still having problems with it swelling when I stand). The strangest and funniest thing about it all is that although the spinning is making my arms, shoulders, hands, and to some extent, my hips ache from the unaccustomed exercise, my tibialis anterior, the damaged muscle that I’m supposedly working by this activity, isn’t complaining a bit! Go figure! 😀


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