I'm going to write an article for my website about why you should spin your own yarn, and it got me thinking, why do I spin? I know it's enjoyable, economical, and you get to meet some really nice people through the process, and also I think there's a sort of timelessness about it, how you gets back to the source. I was wondering what some of your thoughts were, why you guys spin? Thanks!
Oh dear... I'll try not to wax rhapsodic....
You're exactly right... it's timeless. All the cultures of the world have their version of it: take some fiber and twist it. When I've got a pile of fiber in front of me, and the job of processing it seems ridiculously tedious, I just have to think that what I'm doing has been done the same way for milennia, and that inspires me. It's the common thread (no pun intended) linking me to all those women before me.
Secondly, I think all humans have a real need to create. I think in this day and age our creative brains are starving for stimuli. We are tool-using, problem solving beings, and with today's high-tech conveniences and constant distraction, that part of our makeup gets ignored and unhappy. To take a raw fleece and turn it into usable fabric using only my hands and some simple tools... it's food for the soul!
Thank you for your thoughtful reply, spinlizzy. I appreciate your words and I'll keep them in mind as I write my article.
I love high-end yarn, but don't have the pocketbook for it. I can take a $50 fleece and make a $500 sweater.
Well, in my case I couldn't mention economy: I live in Brazil, where hardly any fiber is available; so I order from abroad and it is quite expensive for me! Anyway, I do spin when I can get my hands on new fiber, and I think it's because I feel independent, self-suficient. We, modern people, take too many things for granted: whatever we need, we pay for it and take it. And we usually do not have time to care enough to learn about the manufacturing process - whether it is environment-friendly or not, whether it is fair-trade or not. And, where too much is available, we consume for the sake of habit or boredom - and consume more than we ought. Learning to make stuff - in our case, yarn - connects us with the processes involved, make us reflect on the way production affects our environment, make us value what we have - and respect it, so that we will not consume more than necessary. Some people have 20 sweaters in their closets - synthetic, manufactured with the help of unfair employment, poor quality and purchased in sales by the dozen. Yet they will open the closet and be bored - feel the need for another, trendier one. We would rather have only one or two sweaters, homespun, that we will cherish for years and years - real heirlooms.
For me---if handknitting is baking a birthday cake from scratch,
spinning yarn for my knitting is picking really good eggs, milk, flour, sugar, and looking for vanilla beans instead of using extracts.
Just an additional step to make the thing you're making extra special and extra good.
Thank you both for your comments! I agree. I never used to pay much attention to where my yarn came from, just hoped that it was made in the US, but now I even know which farms most of my roving came from!
I like your comparison to making cake, AZURE. When I first tried them I couldn't believe the difference between farm fresh and store bought eggs - just like the difference between store bought and handspun yarn!
I spin for a few reasons, love making yarn exactly like I want for a particular project, economical and it's something that has been done since time began. The last few years I've noticed that spinning for me has become a real stress reliever. I find comfort even when I'm having a hard time like spinning cotton. It's still soothing and releases tention because I'm so caught up in the process. Now if I can't sleep I spin. Sometimes I'll put on jean Redpath's CD (scottish folk singer) she has a great spinning song and within an hour I'm in bed sound asleep. It just soothes me and I find great joy in doing it.
I've always had this thing where I want to know how everything is made, and not only that, I want to know that I can do it! It's also to do with knowing that one day, I could do it all myself. I can grow the grains to feed alpacas, shear the alpacas, spin their wool and knit it into something useful. If you can sew, you have to buy the fabric. If you can spin, you can make the thread to make the fabric.
I breed both sheep (Gotland) and Angora rabbits. To not use everything from the animals is, for me, a waste. I use the meat and the skin and of course I even use the fleece. What I don't use for my self I sell. The animals helps paying their feed.
For me it is relaxing to sit by the spinner, washing the wool, felt the wool etc. I don't have to think when I do it, I can just relax.
I never do anything myself with the yarn after I spun it. Either I give it to my mom so she can knit something for me or I sell it. Knittingneedles (is that what it's called in english?) are potential murderweapons in my hands.
Handspun yarn are not to hard to sell here in Sweden. Especially not when you can let the customers see and touch the animal that the yarn comes from. I always name the yarn after the animal that the fleece comes from. Then it is easy for customers to come back and ask for that special yarn. I even have customers that asks for lambwool after special ewes because they liked the yarn after that special ewe.
Great comments, guys - thanks! Beautiful sheep :)
It's pretty satisfying to make something from "scratch". When someone compliments an article of clothing I am wearing, I can say thank-you, I sheared the sheep/goat, washed the fleece, dyed it, picked it, carded it, spun it, wove it into fabric and constructed the garmet. It is the only way to make completely unique items and express yourself artistically. It gives me a sense of satisfaction, independance and self-reliance I get no where else, as well as knowing what I am creating has less of an environmental impact that commercially produced fabrics.
All the above mentioned things are very true, but I just really like the handling of the wool; the scent of the raw wool and the feel of it, the way the clean wool feels and smells, the look of a well crimped wool, the relaxation of spinning, and the wearing of something I made myself that feels so good, and is a little different from what everyone else has!