13 October 2016

A Couple of Spinning Challenges

I haven't done much knitting in the last month. I do have a project on the needles, but it isn't a design for publication. Instead, I've devoted a fair amount of attention to spinning.

Last week was Spinzilla. The Whole Nine Yarns did not field a team this year. I joined the Kromski team. I don't have a Kromski wheel, but Kromski North America is based in Georgia. They have been wonderful, gracious corporate sponsors of Georgia FiberFest for the past two years. And you'll recall I came back from the festival this year with a big pile of Polish merino in the Pavonia Peacock limited edition colorway.

My goal was to spin all that fiber into a 2-ply lace weight yarn. I am envisioning a circular shawl in reversible lace. Remember, reversible lace takes twice as many stitches, therefore twice as much yarn. Magic always comes with a price. Well, by the first day I could tell that I wasn't going to get to the plying stage. By about Wednesday, I could tell I wasn't even going to finish all the singles. Sigh.

I did end up with a very full bobbin and a partly filled second bobbin of lace weight singles at 40-50 wraps per inch. I had exactly 2000 yards on the first bobbin and over 1000 yards on the second bobbin. My total for the week was 3114 yards. I think this is more than what I spun last year. And I made the monster mile again, so that was good. Still, I would like to spin faster. If someone offers a class on Spinning for Spinzilla, I'd like to take it. I'm in awe of the people who spin more than 10,000 yards in a week. In the meantime, I know I'll have this spinning project ongoing at least through the end of 2016.

The other spinning challenge I approached involves Twist: The Art of Spinning by Hand. This is an exhibition opening next month at Black Rock Center for the Arts in Germantown, Maryland. The curator is Jennifer Lindsay, who is also in her second year as president of Center for Knit and Crochet. Jennifer challenged spinners to spin a yarn based on a story. I wanted to use a well-known story, so I picked the first 15 minutes of Star Wars to be my muse.

I spent a month or two of thinking about what I wanted to do as well as embarking on a scavenger hunt for beads, gears, fiber, and threads. The final yarn is only about 10 yards. It is corespun. It incorporates beads, threads, wool, silk, alpaca, Angelina, wire, and even some metal pieces from the hardware store.

As an intermediate spinner, this was right at the edge of my skill level. Those of you who are better spinners will, no doubt, notice places where my skills fell a bit short of my vision. And I have no clue how I would keep going with this. How to represent Luke? How to deal with the spaceships in the big battles? I can say that in terms of technique, this is far and away the most difficult yarn I have even attempted. If you only improve by stretching yourself artistically, consider me stretched!