Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Changes Redux: A Meditation on Fibre Preparation

After a long afternoon and evening of washing and rinsing fleece, things are looking much better:

The alpaca is almost clean, and a run through a rainbow dye bath improved a large portion of the fibres:

Washing fibre is hard work, especially when practiced over steaming buckets of water.  Even after washing, most fibre isn't ready to spin: we must decide to tease, flick, card or comb it.  After that comes the spinning and then the making of the yarn into whatever object it must become.  There are many small steps required to gain the finished product.

I'm sure our ancestors would be amazed, if not shocked, that we now do this work for pleasure.  In the days of spinning as necessity, there may have been pride and pleasure taken in the making of string and cloth, but the output required to fulfill family and community needs would have required constant back-breaking labour.  Anthrax, tetanus and other diseases for which there were no treatment posed further risks to the fibre worker.  Fibre preparation was work, part of daily life and not necessarily a time for reflection on the wonder of our capabilities.  (For many people, fibre work as necessity still holds true, but this is not likely to be so in the western world.)

I marvel at the changes time brings. Now, preparing fibre to spin allows me the opportunity to slow life's pace, to appreciate the efforts of everyone before me who held a bit of fibre in her hands and coaxed yarn and cloth out of fleece, plants or insects, who understood, in her bones, that with changes, come great possibilities.

Then again, this may just be the wine talking.  One never knows.


  1. I love fiber prep even more than spinning! There's just something about taking a stinky, greasy fleece and turning it into luscious, sweet, clean fiber that soothes my soul.

  2. It's been a long time since I've had a larger fibre preparation session, longer still since I've dyed. I used the GreenerShades dyes and am not satisfied with my colours--the yellow is intense and I have to practise more--but it was nice to get back at it again.