I recently finished making a skein of yarn. It is always exciting to see what it looks like as a complete product. I am never 100% sure at the beginning of the process exactly what the outcome will be.
I have been knitting forever, but learned to spin wool into yarn about 14 years ago. I have always loved all the colors and textures of the fiber world. It is amazing to think that you can take an endless supply of fiber and make an infinite variety of necessary, useful, and beautiful end products. The first time I saw someone using a spinning wheel I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. I knew I had to learn how to do that. It took a year of thinking about it before I took steps to learn. After borrowing a spinning wheel from a friend who was out of the country for four months, I bought one for myself.
People first figured out how to twist overlapping plant fibers into string at least 20,000 years ago. It was a turning point in human history to be able to make and use string and ropes for tying and pulling, nets and snares for catching animals and carrying things, and belts to use with primitive clothing. Note the image* of a reconstructed piece of fossilized string found in the caves of Lascaux, France, ca. 15,000 BC.
Until the industrial age, thread and yarn for all fabrics and textiles was spun by hand using various tools depending on the time and place and purpose. That includes all clothing, undergarments, stockings, outerwear, sheets and blankets, towels, rugs, ropes, sails, bags and baskets. Think about that. Many women spent all “spare” time they had on textile production.
Fiber can be prepared for spinning in many different ways. My recent yarn started out from two different sources of fiber. I had bought a “cloud” of a pretty blend of wool dyed blue, turquoise, and purple at the North Country Fiber Fair in Watertown, South Dakota this fall. I spun that on one bobbin.
I already had in my stash a ball of blue roving that I bought from Joanie Ellison’s Northcroft Farm in Pelican Rapids, MN. Joanie had dyed the wool herself before having it processed into roving at Dakota Fiber Mill in North Dakota. I spun some of that on another bobbin.
I plied them together using the spinning wheel and VOILA it became a 3.5 ounce (100 gram) skein of bulky two ply yarn, about 220 yards long. It will be for sale at Tangles to Treasures. http://www.tanglestotreasures.com/
* The image of fossilized string came from a fascinating book called “Women’s Work: The First 20,000” Years by Elizabeth Wayland Barber.