Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Mix It Up: Swatches for Spin to Knit

Here we are at the end of Week One of Spin to Knit, drafting techniques.  I’ve shown you my process for drafting samples.  Once the samples are wet finished, knitting swatches will give me an idea of how each yarn behaves as fabric.

All three samples were knitted on 2.5 mm 40 cm Addi Turbo needles.  Samples One and Two are worked over 21 stitches; Sample Three was knitted on 15 stitches.  Each sample has a 3 stitch garter stitch border and each has a sample of stockinette and a simple YO, K2Tog lace.  The first two samples contain seed stitch and all three are cast off differently.  The samples were washed together in hot water and Eucalan; I agitated them by hand a bit, but not vigourously.  They were rolled in a towel and dried flat—no pinning.

From the left: the yarn in Sample One didn’t full and the stockinette stitch is rather non-descript.  The combination of short forward draw and high twist meant that the stockinette section biased when wet and you can see a bit of skew remains in the sample.  On the other hand, I prefer the crisp definition of the lace and seed sections over those in Sample Two. 

The yarn in Sample Two fills the spaces in stockinette nicely.  There are underspun and plied spots that I will have to watch if I spin the yarn with short backward draw.  The lace and seed sections are a bit limp for my tastes, but the overall hand of this swatch is nice and what I usually expect of Merino. 

Sample Three—yes, it’s from the same batch of fibres—has a pretty stockinette section, but the acute twist angle may make a larger piece too firm and crunchy for Merino fabric.  Again, there’s the added problem of having to spin this top from the fold, so I will probably not spin yarn using these techniques for this project.

The second photograph shows all samples tied together.  This batch would hang on or near my wheel as I’m spinning for the project.  That way, I’ll have my control cards handy and I’ll remember the look and hand of the the end fabric.

People have asked me why I place so much emphasis on displaying less-than-perfect samples and why I insist on pointing out flaws when I discourage others from doing so?  Simply this: we learn much more from mistakes than we do when we achieve “perfection.”  Mistakes are interesting; they keep me focused and humble.  Students, especially beginners, sometimes expect flawless work from the beginning, partly because they often see work from their instructors and think that they should start at the point where their instructors finished.  The problem with that is they seldom see all the steps these instructors took to get to their final fabric. 

As a free form person, people don’t often get “perfect” fabric from me.  Instead, they are able to see that I work the way I do by choice.  Happy accidents are great things and we should cherish them when they appear, but the more effort you put into a project, the more happy accidents will appear. 

What is the project?  Well, I’m still not sure, but I have something in mind.  Of course, it will be something simple, something uniquely flawed, something far removed from perfection because I’m a process person.  The journey is what interests me; it’s great to be able to share the trip with others.



  1. Very interesting. I am not yet that mindful of what I am spinning. I guess I am still working on very basic skills. Thanks -- I will be back for more.

    1. Thank you. Spinning as meditation practice has no goal, but I find the more I use spinning mindfully, the more my skills improve.