Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The Tyranny of Waste Not, Want Not

Last night's spinning class was "Fibre Prep."  I always have so much fun in class and especially enjoy the preparation sessions.  I love working with beginning spinners; they approach everything with fresh eyes.  They teach me so much.

Beginners often lament about the amount of fibre "wasted" when they are learning to spin.  Many expect their first efforts to be useable from the start.  Others worry that they are spending money which could be put towards better causes.

Let's examine these ideas.  In terms of economic value, spinning is like every other pursuit.  It can be inexpensive or you can take "the sky's the limit" approach.  The money you spend is not indicative of the pleasure you derive from what you do.  But, suppose you are very strapped for cash.  The materials to make a toy wheel spindle cost about $5 and a half hour of your time.  100 grams of undyed Romney roving will set you back less than $7; 100 grams of dyed Romney, about $9.  Your total cost to start: about $15.

$15.  That's 3 cups of coffee at an upscale shop.  It's less than a night out at the movies or a few rentals to watch at home.  It's certainly less than your monthly cable fees, your internet connection, or your cell phone charges.  Less than a fast food meal for two.  (And much healthier!)  As far as economical entertainment goes, spinning start-up wins hands down.

Besides, spinning is active.  Sure, you can spin in front of the television, but your mind is engaged with the spinning process.  Your hands and arms move, developing grace and skill.  Your feet and legs work away at the wheel.  Once you catch on, spinning is relaxing.  It can lower your blood pressure and refresh your spirits.  (For those not there yet--trust me, it's true!)

If you insist on practical uses for your first handspun, then know that, no matter what the results, your first fibre can go somewhere, if only into the compost.  Beginners' yarn can be combined with commercial yarns to perk up hats, mittens, or socks.  It can be used as package trim or to stake tomatoes in the garden.  You can put it away and look at it a few years from now, to impress yourself at how far you've advanced.

What can you do with 100 grams of  beginners' bits of handspun?  Well, there's this:

This hat was knitted using scraps of 2 ply handspun wool and alpaca, for a cost of around $10, plus my time.

What about 500 grams of soft Blue-Faced Leicester roving?

I knit myself this sweater from thick and thin singles as a sample for the Beginners' Spinning classes.  The cost of the fibre was $25.  The ceramic buttons cost $10. 

The time and money we spend learning to spin is never wasted.  Allow yourself the pleasure of small indulgences.  They're good for the spirit.


  1. I love your blog. I also agree on the statements made about spinning, sooo true about the relaxing part. Especially when you get into the "spinning zone" Its amazing how the turning of wood and the feel of fiber in your hand slows your stressed out world to almost a halt! totally true! Time for me to get back to my wheel. Love the projects you did with them too.