How I finally learned to spin--I think

Maggie Casey

I have owned a spinning wheel for, hmm, let's say seven years. In that time, I've watched women, who have never spun before, spool out the most amazing yarn their first time spinning.

That some people are naturals is a given. Like the woman sitting next to me this weekend in Maggie Casey's spinning class. She had never spun before and was turning out the prettiest plies you've ever seen. I've spun pounds of yarn and let's just say, you ain't going to get shawls made from my handspun to glide through a wedding ring.

It's not that I haven't had good instruction. Many a fine spinner has tried to show me the subtle movements required in getting fiber to take twist evenly. All that pinching, pulling, tugging and drafting while fiber is being sucked onto the bobbin, or breaking, or creating giant python-swallowed-elephant blobs. It's certainly not the fault of the wheel. I managed to find a used Schacht Matchless single treadle online, an early model from the 1980s. Though for the past couple of years, it's been out of commission, the victim of small children and a kitten who enjoyed derailing drive bands. Physical coordination has never been a strong suit.

But after spending two solid days trapped in a gym with Maggie Casey and 13 other spinners, something clicked. Suddenly some of the rubbing-your-head-patting-your-stomach moves started happening, accidentally then volitionally. Suddenly it felt good and not maddening.

You can see the wonky result below. Here's to a summer of spinning garden- and creek-side in the presence of drowsy, purring cats.


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