For several years there has been discussion in the knitting community about whether people are product or process knitters, and I can quite comfortably say I am very much a product knitter but I recently realised that in contrast I am a process spinner. How did I come to this conclusion? Well, it may have had something to do with opening my craft cupboard to store my latest spin and a mountain of handspun yarn tumbling to the floor.
Despite learning to spin in 2010 and getting my wheel in 2014 the only things I have ever knitted with handspun are a sockhead hat, a hitchhiker scarf and 2 pairs of socks (both pairs of socks were only knitted this year!). In fact my mother has knitted with more of my handspun than I have.
It’s not like I have unusable art yarn, pretty much all of my spinning resulted in relatively even/ consistent yarn at a fingering to DK weight – the weight that nearly all my knitting projects are at. So why don’t I knit with it? A very good question, and only partly explained by my crazy notion that it is too precious to knit with. Taking a closer look at the mountain may help.
A lot of my early spinning was using scrap bags of mixed merino top from my LYS which produced some very colourful barber poled yarns in 100g skeins, beautiful but probably only enough yardage to knit a hat or some mittens. My problem came when thinking about knitting them up, the only handspun hat I own has bagged out of shape over time and I am reluctant to wear it on rainy days – something that we get a lot of living in the North West UK. Am I worrying too much about ruining my handspun knits, I can’t imagine other people save their precious objects just for those handful of cold but dry days. Do they get ruined, do other people have magic tricks for keeping them looking good? Should I just stop worrying, knit it and wear it with pride for however long it lasts?
My second issue was thinking that I didn’t have anything that would work for a garment because the skeins were so small and in colours that were too different to each other but too barber poled for effective colour work. Looking at the second row from the top I can’t really use this excuse anymore (especially as I actually have another 500g of a similar dark green still in my stash!)
The bottom row is mainly mini skeins from free samples with orders, fuzzlings or blending box samples ranging in size from 10-30g and I have no idea what these will ever become but I love them. The 3 skeins to the right of the bottom row are actually bigger skeins and have either already become socks or are destined to be in the very near future because they are not merino (the orange is Wensleydale and the blue is a Norwegian/ bamboo blend)
As I am trying to take a more mindful approach to crafting in 2016 I am taking a few lessons from this realisation
- I need to knit more with what I spin by stopping treating it as precious and breaking away from seeing them as individual skeins and considering mixing and matching them on larger projects
- When I buy fibre I need to think more about what it will become, merino has its place but in reality it probably isn’t in my wardrobe I need something that is a bit hardier I also need to think more about the colours I wear most especially as I take steps towards extending my handmade wardrobe and essentially building myself almost a uniform for day to day wear.
I probably should go through my breed specific handspun yarns in neutral colours and work out what they are going to become but I think I’ve made enough big decisions for today.