After 10+ years’ hiatus, I’ve taken up another old interest of mine: handspinning. A week or two ago, I wandered down to my local yarn shop, Purlescence Yarns, because I had heard they were stocking weaving supplies. In particular, I had heard that they had a computer-driven Louet Megado, which startled me because that is a mighty high-end, complex loom for a yarn shop to be selling. Having a Megado on their floor meant that they were serious about selling to weavers, so I drifted in to suss out their offerings.
I’m pleased to say that we now have a “real” weaving shop in the Bay Area! They have quite a variety of looms, including several types of rigid heddle looms, table looms, and floor looms (both treadled and electronic dobby). Yarns are mostly cotton, I think 5/2, 10/2, and 20/2 cotton. That’s not too surprising since the majority of weavers use those yarns. They have Lunatic Fringe yarns in a rainbow of colors, plus the American Maid yarns, natural color-grown cotton that Lunatic Fringe also supplies. They also have a lot of other weaving yarns, but I have to admit that I was so drawn to the brightly colored Lunatic Fringe yarns that I didn’t much notice the others. (I am a color magpie, in case you hadn’t noticed. 🙂 )
In addition to weaving supplies and equipment, and the expected array of knitting yarns, Purlescence also sells equipment and materials for handspinning. There’s a largish flock of spinning wheels on their shop floor, plus four or five drum carders, and a wall dedicated to spinning supplies – natural, commercially dyed, and hand painted rovings, plus a little bit of fleece. And other spinning goodies, like spindles, hand cards, blending boards, etc.
If you’re in the Bay Area, you should definitely check them out. They’re in Sunnyvale, so South Bay folks (like me!) should be especially excited – we haven’t had a good fiber arts shop down here for ages.
Anyway, I had decided beforehand that I was not buying any more weaving yarn – my stash is embarrassingly large already! But ooh, pretty colors! I wound up walking out with a four-ounce braid of rainbow-colored hand-painted roving, 50-50 silk/merino, from Greenwood Fiberworks. It’s gorgeous.
I was berating myself for the complete uselessness of this purchase (I haven’t spun anything in ten years, don’t own a spinning wheel, and had no intentions of picking up spinning again) when it occurred to me that hey, maybe I could use a drop spindle and spin while walking! I had been trying to get myself to exercise more, but was stymied by my subconscious, which has zero patience for anything it considers unproductive. “Are we done yet? Can we go do something useful now?” Having to listen to your subconscious whining in the back seat for the entirety of a one-hour walk is a real demotivator, so I was having trouble getting myself to go for even short walks.
So I got out my drop spindle from a dusty bin of craft supplies, and tried out the roving. It was a delight to spin, and I quickly discovered that I could spin while walking briskly. And my subconscious did a 180-degree about-face: “Oh, can we do just a few more blocks? I want to make more yarn!”So behold my secret weapon for exercise:
Having started spinning again, of course, it was inevitable that I would acquire a stash. So I bought some roving, and traded with a friend to get some hand cards and some of her fiber stash. I now have about 5-6 pounds of various spinning fibers – enough for several years at the rate I’m spinning.
Since most of my new stash was undyed, I naturally had to put some color in it. So yesterday I hand-painted this roving:
It’s Kraemer Yarns’ Sterling roving – 63% superwash merino, 20% silk, 15% nylon, and 2% glitter. Perfect for a pair of fabulous socks. (And I do mean faaaabulous, dahhhling.)
So after I’m done practicing on the rainbow roving, I’ll start spinning this one. I’m thinking a three-ply yarn, Navajo-plied to keep the color sequence intact, would be perfect.
Meanwhile, I’ve been reading up on another long-forgotten interest, origami. I’ve read the first 200 pages of Robert Lang’s Origami Design Secrets – a fantastic book about designing your own origami models. I haven’t studied it at great depth, but I understand the basic strategies that he’s outlining. It’s very well-written and logical in its progression – you can tell it was written by a scientist! (Lang is a former professor at Caltech, and was affiliated with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for quite some time.) I’m really enjoying it.
I’ve also tried folding some origami tessellations, but have been stymied by my small squares of origami paper. The tessellation I was attempting begins by nonchalantly telling you to fold the paper into 1,024 squares of equal size, so you can imagine that on an 11×11 sheet of origami paper, those squares are very small indeed! (But don’t look so aghast: you can fold those 1,024 squares with just 64 folds.) So I bought some larger sheets of origami-suitable paper yesterday and will try again this week.
I’m also planning to get in touch with some origami masters this week, to see if I can pick their brains about doing origami in fabric. Fortunately several very well-known origamists are in the Bay Area, so hopefully at least one of them will let me buy them lunch. 🙂
But if not, maybe I can pull some strings. After all, I do have friends in high places.