Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


We all have it-that tendency for our thoughts to jump from one thing to another, to act without consideration, to go, go, go.  I'm continually caught in chasing one thing, be it thought or action, only to be distracted by the next "shiny, pretty thing."  In meditation/yoga, this scattering of thoughts and actions is known as "monkeymind."  We hope to tame it, allowing our constant restlessness to settle and calm down.  If we calm our thoughts, calm actions will follow.

My mind has been very restless these days.  I don't know if the restlessness stems from life adjustments, the excitement of an upcoming trip or the fact that spring seems to have arrived, but my levels of concentration are low and I'm constantly struggling to avoid seeking refuge in "shopping therapy," a dangerous pursuit both financially and spiritually. 

I'm capable of intense focus when I'm engaged in something of interest.  Spinning is an example; I've pursued its twists and turns for decades and am delighted to know that I will never exhaust the learning opportunities it provides.  I decided to throw my restless energy into making yarn-art yarn, to be specific.  Inspired by Erin's purchase of some gorgeous yarn at a weekend craft sale and by insubordinknit's (see the sidebar) wonderful DVD, Sit and Spin, I've spent the last few days spinning "whirlwind monkeymind" yarns.

Art yarns (or designer yarns, as I first knew them) are not easy to make.  They are not the efforts produced when first learning to spin.  Art yarns require a measure of control and understanding of fibres, drafting, yarn formation, plying techniques and yarn finishing methods, especially if you aim for a usable product.  Art yarns require concentration.  Let your attention wander and oops! your fibre drifts, your binder yarn snaps, that lump of art gets caught in your flyer guides and everything comes to a halt.

My first attempt was quite tame:

This yarn combines a black alpaca/silk singles with a multicoloured singles of BFL or Merino.  I let the coloured yarn wrap around the alpaca to form knots and then re-plied with a fine commercial silk singles.  I finished the yarn with a hot water soak and a good whacking.  (Yes, I do whack my yarns on occasion.)

I moved on to corespinning plus wrapping.  I had some lovely wool/mohair/bamboo batts from a Ravelry swap.  I corespun this around a loosely spun and plied grey  2 ply wool yarn.  Instead of spinning the batt around the core completely, I let the grey yarn show, producing a striped effect.  The yarn is slightly off-balance even after a wash and a whack, just enough that there should be some texture in the fabric it becomes.

I wanted to make a yarn that expressed (and perhaps released) my mind's restlessness, so I went for broke.  I had more batts from that Rav swap, of alpaca/wool/bamboo/mohair.  I allowed the fine silk singles to autowrap while I corespun the batts around a fine 2 ply blue-grey Swedish weaving yarn.  (It's a bit rough, but is covered by the softer fibre and it's fine enough to keep the final yarn light.)  I then plied the yarn with another strand of the silk singles.  The result, Whirlwind Monkeymind-Ordered Chaos:

Spinning these yarns was fun, a welcome departure from the basic yarns I spin by default:

More importantly, channeling my monkeymind into my yarns helped me settle down into more mindful trains of thought.

My monkeymind is not quite serenely tamed, so I'm off to see what other fibres I can throw at the wheel.  I'll calm that mischievious creature dancing in my head yet!

(It looks like someone else needs some calming-Mickey wasn't pleased that my spinning disturbed his beauty rest:)


  1. What a pretty cat! I love your corespun yarn. I enjoy spinning the odd bit of art yarn but can't keep doing it for very long before going back to my default, beloved fine yarns. Do you have a copy of Sit and Spin?

  2. What a beautiful kitty!! And yes, can see the perturbed, disturbed nap.. :)
    Love your beautiful spinning! The art yarns are very fun!! Forgive me for drooling on them as they are beautiful... oh wait.. LOL it's only on my monitor!!
    Gorgeous work, thank you for sharing!! Good luck on your fibre stash dive!!

  3. Mick had an unfortunate encounter with a spinning wheel once, so he's unimpressed by spinning.

    I'm enjoying breaking out of my spinning mold, even if my spinning monogamy challenge has gone by the wayside as a result! Thanks for your comments.

  4. Your spinning is beautiful!! I hope one day I could produce such gorgeous work!

  5. What a pretty kitty! But what does Morris think of the intruder?? :)

  6. Beautiful spinning as always :) I'm always mesmerized by art yarns because they look so spontaneous, but obviously take more efforts than it seems to make them. I should just step outside of my comfort zone and give it another try...

  7. Thanks everyone! I'd love to get together for an art yarn spinning session, if anyone is up for it.