Last Fall I caught the fiber fever during a visit to the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival (flockandfiberfestival.com), where I picked up two balls of merino wool and safflower dye (and almost bought a goat named Pancake). In less than two hours I had convinced myself I could make yarn. After dyeing the wool in my kitchen and learning how to use a drum carder, I was on the last leg of my yarn-making marathon. I had a bag full of bright, canary yellow fiber ready to spin. Problem was, I didn't know how to spin it.
After carding the fiber at Abundant Yarn & Dyeworks (8524 SE 17th Ave., 258-9276, abundantyarn.com) the store manager Stevanie Waldorf, (who has a seemingly endless supply of patience) took some time to show me the ropes. We grabbed a corner couch in the café and began my lesson.
Learning to hand spin was akin to the "pat your head and rub your stomach" coordination game I never really mastered as a child. It requires the use of both hands, both knees, an elbow and maybe even the teeth. It also requires patience. Stevanie showed me how to snag a bit of the fiber on the hook end of my drop spindle, and, after a few false starts, I was spinning.
I learned that the drop spindle itself matters. I chose a fairly lightweight spindle because I'm all about the eye-candy. Had I known what I know now, I would have gone for a heavier spindle, instead of the one with pretty wood, because the weight helps it spin for a longer period of time and the pretty wood does nothing.
After spinning with Stevanie for an hour, I left the shop with 12 inches of yarn on my spindle. Spinning is a meditative, zen-like activity for some (and I have a newfound appreciation and respect for these people), but the verdict is in. I can dye yarn, but I am way too impatient to spin it. I can't tell you when I'll finish this project but one day, some day, I'll have a canary yellow scarf that was dyed, spun, and knit by my own hand.
Next Week: There is no next week! This is the last issue of Made. Thank you for playing along with me.
Made is a weekly how-to advertising-sales feature that focuses on D-I-Y projects and the local businesses that can help you make them.