Where There’s a Woolen, There’s a Way

I’m confessing right up front that I’m really pumped tonight. 🙂

Probably my biggest problem and mental sticking point with working on my Master Spinner certification has been that in order to pass Level 1, a person has to be able to spin both worsted and woolen yarn. Now that’s a perfectly logical requirement, but I was barely spinning worsted when I walked into class, and didn’t even know that I WAS spinning worsted. I was only a little bit wet behind the ears… Everyone else there was extremely comfortable with their wheels, and experimenting and doing new things was an interesting challenge for them. On the other hand, I was pleased when my yarn didn’t fall apart, and whereas I passionately adore learning new things, me trying to spin woolen was a bit like starting second grade without having gone to first. The day we covered it in class, I was exhausted from lack of sleep and had taken a very big emotional blow first thing in the morning. I stood watching our instructor making yarn by a method that looked like enchantment, and I couldn’t understand what she was doing and how it was actually working, because I didn’t have a big enough experience base to which I could add this new technique. But I bravely tried to spin woolen. And tried… and tried… And I failed miserably. And much to my embarrassment, it was all too much for me, and I eventually had tears streaming down my cheeks. I wanted desperately to become invisible. I have never had something like this happen to me in any sort of class I’ve ever taken, and it was horribly humiliating.

That’s not something one easily forgets, and ever since then, I’ve been more than a little bit terrified of spinning woolen. I’ve been so terrified that I’ve been creeping around the edges of my MSP homework. I honestly couldn’t believe I’d even be able to complete the project. I’ve been getting fleeces and dyestuff and putting together my notebook framework, and I’ve been talking positive about it everywhere I turn, but I didn’t entirely believe it was really going to happen – until now.

Trying to coax myself to at least TRY the woolen spinning, and having some more spinning hours under my belt, I bought an entire pound of into the Woods Romney roving from KattyKnits on Etsy. It was a color I could love, milled with little intervention, so still lanolin rich and oh so fun to touch and smell, a reasonable price, a big enough quantity that I could not give up quickly because I ran out of fiber fast, and it was something that I’d not fallen in love with previously and would stew about messing up. If I happened to come out with some usable yarn in the end, then so much the better. When I filled a bobbin with fine worsted spun Merino the other night, producing a very logical stopping spot for my current spinning project, I realized it was now or never. There’s a lot of work to do for this MSP project, and there IS a deadline to submit it. I grabbed the recalcitrant ‘fraidy cat in me by the nape of the neck, and took a mammoth ball of roving in the other, and the three of us sat down at my spinning wheel, quickly joined by a pair of very sweaty hands.

The first hour didn’t go well, unless I get points for my creativity in name calling. My favorite moniker for the roving at that point was Son of a Manure Tag. I really wasn’t having fun. The few folks who knew what I was doing were checking in every so often (from a safe distance) with a “how’s it going?” I started feeling like I was in labor – except I was better prepared for childbirth, and there was a predictable outcome.

Sometime during the second hour, there was a fleeting moment of brilliance. It startled me so much that I promptly lost my focus, forgot what I’d done right, and found myself back at SoaMT stage – except now there was a spark of possibility lit. Surely, if my hands had figured it out for five seconds, they could do it again?

Six hours later, I had a bobbin and a half filled, my head and legs ached, but at least my palms were dry.

By the end of the next day, I was almost enjoying myself.

And last night, I found out I’d made real yarn – and good enough yarn that I absolutely love it!

In all honesty, as much as it shocks me to say this, it may well be the best yarn I’ve spun yet, and I’m finding that more than a bit amusing! I suppose I was right; it WAS time to learn to spin woolen. 🙂 NOW it’s time for me to get very serious about doing my homework project! 😉

Specifications: I’ve only plied part of the first 8 ounces, so I’m not sure how much my still damp skein weighs – guessing about 4 ounces? This is about 7 wraps per inch, which is a victory in itself, since spinning this thick is a serious challenge to me. This first skein is 139.5 yards long, and I’m really hopeful there will be enough when I’m done to make something special. The 3-ply yarn is smooshy and has nice elasticity. It’s Romney, so not next to the skin soft, but it would make a nice vest, perhaps…

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. That’s really neat that you conquered your fear of woolen. I have to say that I’ve never spun that way myself. Can’t seem to do long draw. But I’m looking forward to overcoming that someday myself.

    Everything I’ve heard about the MSP program is all good. Spinners seem to learn so much from it.


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