There is a little puzzle going round in my brain at the moment. As every knitter knows, if you leave a piece of knitting half way through for any length of time, when you pick it up to finish it the differences will usually show the ‘before’ and ‘after’. Probably through the relaxing of the wool and any [even subtle] changes of tension. The same appears to hold true when you are spinning wool. Perhaps even more so I am beginning to realise.
After several wrong attempts to find the right shade of Blue Faced Leicester wool to spin up to make up the shortfall for my current hand-spun hand-knit cardigan, I finally found the right shade. I gratefully began spinning and at the same time continuing to knit in the wool I had previously spun many moons ago. I was sure I would have enough to finish and so any problems would be over. There should be no ‘before’ or ‘after’ because I only recently started knitting this particular garment therefore I should be home and dry. ‘New’ Spinning. Again not BFL.
It now occurs to me that some differences will show, not in the knitting but in the wool, because I now think that there are subtle differences in the way that I spin and ply the singles. I can’t quite put my finger on what the difference is. It isn’t either the raw wool or wheel, so can only be in my hands [or perhaps my head?]. I relax more now when spinning and pay more attention when plying, so that could be it. On the other hand the arthritis in my hands hasn’t improved any, quite the opposite despite continually moving and exercising them in my various crafts.
My spinning, if anything, has slightly improved and more uniform, [which isn’t necessarily a good thing; one can buy commercially spun wool for that]. The difficulty is in the memory of my hands. When you perform any task repeatedly and often, you get a ‘memory’ in your hands. You do whatever it is automatically, your brain no longer feels the need to concentrate. A bit like learning to walk. A baby concentrates hard, all its attention focussed on what it is doing. If we as adults, have no impairment, we no longer think about it – we just walk. It is the same with knitting, spinning, typing or doing anything else with our hands repeatedly and often; the movements become mechanical and automatic. If we stop to think about it, we often stumble.
As a young girl just starting out in employment I was taught to touch type. It was considered a necessary skill to earn one’s living and has on occasions helped financially when I was either training or studying for other careers – but I couldn’t tell you without looking where the various keys are on a keyboard. I would have to let my fingers do the talking. My head has long ago forgotten what my hands know automatically. And so it is with my spinning. My hands can’t tell me how I spun the first lot of Blue Faced Leicester they can only tell me what I am spinning now. It may be alright, there may not be that much difference and if there is it will have to knitted in the sleeves and collar so that there is no obvious line.
I know that there are serious spinners who calculate the ratio of pedal to twist to feeding through to bobbin and have their tension just right. I am not one of those obviously. Were I, I would not be puzzled now I would have it all written down neatly annotated. That is not to say I am not serious about my spinning, I am just not a serious spinner. Nor am I an intuitive, natural spinner either like my daughter Abigail, who I am sure was spinning from the time she left the pram almost ~ but I enjoy it and I tell myself it is useful and creative – whether either of those claims is actually true I’ll probably never know, but I know it saved my sanity when I had to retire from a career I had loved long before I had intended due to ill health. Then I would get out of bed in the night and just spin mindlessly until I was relaxed enough to sleep, beats pills any day .