Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Monday, 6 January 2014

Baby, It's Cold Outside: Spinning Out of a Deep Freeze

We've been stuck in abnormally low temperatures since mid-November.  Apart from a few milder days, our day time highs hover around -25C and it's much colder with the wind. Yesterday, the thermometer stuck at the -30C/-51C windchill.  Yes, you read that correctly. I have been feeling housebound and snarky, so when Donna asked if I wanted to meet for coffee, I was happy to have an opportunity to get out of here for a bit. I decided that a 6 block walk would do me good and that, if I planned things properly, I could handle the cold. The walk would also be a test for my newly fulled thrummed mittens.  I dressed in layers and layers of fabric and knitting, until I resembled Randy in his snowsuit in A Christmas Story, although I'm probably a wee bit taller and not quite as cute.

I won't say the walk over, heading into the NW wind, was pleasant, but it wasn't torment. The thrummed mittens, with thin stretchy gloves inside, did surprisingly well.  I had a nice visit with Ms. D.  My disposition has improved a little bit, although it's going to take a number of walks before I feel not so, um, grouchy. Yoga classes begin tomorrow which will help with the doom and gloom mood swings.

Spinning always cheers and calms me. I've spent the last few days clearing bobbins, plying and re-plying odds and ends of yarns which are scattered all over my fibre room.  There are balls of "this and that," samples for projects, samples which seemed like good ideas but which I abandoned for various reasons, tiny balls of yarn spun from small promotional packs of fibre. The largest skein, 300 metres of 2 ply camel down, looked limp and lifeless until I ran it back through the wheel. The extra plying twist added bounce and sheen; there's enough yarn for a lace scarf now in the planning stages. There is a 120 metre skein of 3 ply organic cotton, plied from singles of oatmeal, green and brown.  Small skeins of stringy-looking 2 ply cottons have been re-plyed back on themselves in their original S ply direction, which has transformed them into elastic, crepe yarns.  A boil with soap and baking soda darkened the colours, scoured off the pectin and settled the twist.  My favourite skein so far is a 150 metre 3 ply yarn of alpaca, angora and cotton; it's a strange combination, but very soft and strong.

L to R: 2 skeins of  4 ply crepe cotton; 3 ply organic cotton; 2 ply baby camel down; 3 ply angora/alpaca/cotton; 2 skeins of 2 ply wool tightly plied for sock heels and toes.  Foreground: 2 leftover balls of organic cotton.

There are no prize winners in this batch, although the camel down yarn is rather lovely. I ply my strings, knots and all. Finishing will improve their appearance and durability; knots can be managed as the fabric forms. Some skeins will work well in knitting, weaving or crochet, while others will fulfill their destiny as skein or package ties. While I believe that every spun yarn is a learning experience and that there's no shame in tossing hopeless yarns, part of me always remembers how precious string was and still is, in times and cultures where every bit of yarn was handmade, treasured, used and re-used.  As I play and ply with my rag tag strings, I think back to a time when cloth was more precious than gold and I bow to those who honour yarns with their skills, time and presence.



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