Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Russians are Coming: Things of Great Beauty

I wandered into the LYS yesterday before my yoga class.  Somehow, this gorgeous spindle found its way into my bag:

It's a brass-tipped IST Russian spindle in purpleheart wood.  It's sitting on a Jim Leslie bowl I bought at Fibre Week 2011.  I'm spinning a cashmere and silk roving that Carole gave me last year.  Above the spindle are, left to right, a Jenkins spindle bowl and two lovely Tabachek bowls, my favourites.  All my efforts don't seem to have any effect on my acquisitive nature, at least as far as spinning tools are concerned.

Russian spindles are wonderful meditation tools.  They're not my favourite style of spindle and I don't use them much.  This means that I must give full attention to my spinning when I work with the Russians.  This one requires a careful finger flick just below the spindle top to get any spin at all.  It doesn't seem to like temporary cops. It behaves differently, depending upon which bowl I use.  When the spindle sits in the Tabacheks, I must keep it upright.  If I don't, the spindle either stops or flies out of the bowl.  I have to tilt the spindle slightly when I'm using the Jenkins.  The spindle will not stay in the Jim Leslie bowl, which has an ebony centre, unless the Russian is tilted at a +45 degree angle towards my body.  I'm not used to using a support spindle at such an angle, but it's proving to be surprisingly comfortable when I sit on the floor and draft the fibres. 

Spinning moves in meditative flow: my left hand draws back with a gentle touch.  Too much pressure and the fibres lock up, impeding my progress. There is no grasping here.  I can only guide the roving on its journey.  If I lose my focus, the yarn becomes too thin. My right hand seeks the perfect spot on the spindle shaft, twirling the spindle in search of the correct amount twist to hold the fresh yarn together, then adding more twist to finish without snapping the string.  Back and forth I go, drafting, twisting, winding on to build the perfect cop which keeps everything in balance. 

I have no plans for the yarn.  It's part of my resolution to use stash fibres in the Tour de Fleece 2011.

Then there's this stuff:

I'm spinning this for the Tour de Fleece and I'm using long draw, but that's where similarities between this and the spindle fibre end.  This fibre is ages old, a linen/silk mix intended for blending.  I decided to use it as is, for one ply of a future art yarn.  I have to pay attention here, too.  If I switch drafting techniques, the fibre sticks and spinning comes to a halt or the yarn snaps.  Using long draw produces a lot of texture which will work for an art yarn, provided I've inserted sufficient twist.  The jury is still out on that.

Mickey watches over all, from his perch on the kitchen table:

No, he shouldn't be there, but he's old and has always been stubborn.  He is what he is and does what he does.  His nickname isn't "Buddha" for nothing.

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