A couple of weeks ago, I booked myself onto a day-long spindle spinning workshop at Get Knitted, my favourite Bristol yarn store. I’ve wanted to learn to spin for several years, ever since a friend gave me her slightly broken spinning wheel but I didn’t want to spend money getting it fixed until I knew for sure that spinning was something I wanted to pursue. I have to be careful to balance my need to enthusiastically throw myself into new things with keeping a focus on my existing art: I am very easily distracted! However, number 55 on my 101 Things list is Learn to Spin, so when I saw the workshop advertised, I jumped at the chance to do it.
I’ve been feeling very unenthusiastic about my art for months now but this workshop really released my creative juices: I came home this evening ready to get right back into the studio and start making again. There were 9 of us on the course and our teacher was Jen from the hand-dyed yarn company, Fyberspates. Jen got us all spinning with a simple wooden and plastic spindle in an amazingly short time. Spindles are an ancient technology, possibly one of the oldest in the world – apparently in the Middle Ages they sometimes used a stick and a potato if they didn’t have a nice carved wooden spindle to hand! We got to play with wool, alpaca, silk, mohair, linen and even a little bit of cashmere. Just sinking my fingers into all the different types of fibre was an education and it was interesting to see how we all differed in which ones we found easiest to spin.
My tiny lumpy balls of yarn don’t look like anything special but to me they’re quite magical because hey, I made yarn! Actual yarn, from fibre – how cool is that? OK, so it’s not very good yarn – a 5 year old medieval child with a potato could probably have made better. It’s extremely uneven, going from thick to thin and back again and some places aren’t twisted enough but I don’t care, it’s a beginning. This is the incredible thing about learning something new; the joy of looking at something that you’ve made with little technical skill but with utter concentration and passion and knowing that you’re back in that humble place of Beginner’s Mind. Every artist should keep feeling their way back to that place; it kicks you out of your complacency and gives you that little skip in your creative spirit that charges you up.
A Boring Bit
There’s been a bit of downtime on the site this week because we needed to upgrade WordPress after a possible spambot incursion – so if anyone’s had trouble getting the site to load, that would be why. A couple of things are still a bit funky: the gallery pages aren’t quite right and the blog archives have done a bunk but hopefully we’ll get everything back to normal soon. If you’re very observant, you may also have noticed that we’ve switched on a confirmation box for comments. I’m sorry about this, I know they’re a nuisance but I was getting upwards of 400 spam on the blog every single day and it was driving me absolutely nuts.