Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


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Saturday, July 03, 2004  

And The Answer Is ...

The haircut is pretty darn good. Not a perfect haircut - where I don't have to do a thing with it even though it's been washed in that soft Tappahannock water. But one douse with my good artesian water and it will look perfect. It's good to go, now, for a couple of weeks.

Warning! Long post where even the fiber stuff at the end becomes spiritual stuff

It's been a strange roller coaster week, where my emotions rode the cars from euphoric heights to subterranean lows, around tense curves and through gravity defying spins. It seems as if my emotional state is dancing around some truth, catching glimpses of it, now and then sensing the entire truth, but shying away from complete immersion in it. My horoscope says "seems like nobody likes you any more? well - you'll get a second chance later in the month". Huh. Great. Well, last weekend notwithstanding, when dear friends stroked lovingly, ever since that July 14 library meeting, it’s seemed as if a goodly number of people, who used to be in my life, have moved on. Some, I don't mind bidding farewell, Others, I am puzzled (read here, wondering what did I do?!) that they have departed - though I must keep reminding myself that it's not necessarily about me - they might just need to go elsewhere. For a few, the parting was painful.

I suppose I'm ultra sensitive to this because I'm pretty involved in putting together the 151st family reunion coming up in August. Two years ago three of us made all the arrangements and had such a loving experience. That triumvirate split over a divorce and now there's a sad aura about doing all this family reunion stuff. Well, it's really not all that much work and it will be done by middle of next week and my reward will be a few days spent with Jen up at Creative Strands.

Life is nothing if not adjustments. In fact, I have been getting some fascinating insights - some of those glimmers of truth I was talking about - from the lecture tapes - the one about Spencer's Faerie Queen - where the ultimate nature of truth is revealed to be submissive to change without losing it’s fundamental core. He was talking about the Church of England, I am worried about the soul of Bess, but of course, what all mankind seems to need is a steadfast core with a reconciliation to change.

Today I have a totally free day. There is a little house keeping that I want to do - and sometime I must do some shopping because we have company coming tomorrow. But I can do all of that tomorrow in the wee dawn hours if I choose. Right now there is a blank slate before me and I have a new piece of chalk. A whole box of colored chalks, in fact. In my pocket is a tiny piece of CVM (California Variegated Mutant) roving. I like to put my fingers in my pocket and feel the tender springy texture of this delicious fiber. It’s got something in it, some nutritional content, that feeds a hunger in me. It works like a love blanket, a security blanket, on my psyche. All week I’ve carried it around in my nightgown pocket, touching it, feeling the silkiness of it, letting its energy calm me.

When I spun a little last weekend I let a good bit of fiber into the twist and ended up with my ubiquitous 4 st. to the inch aran weight 2-ply. Knit up, the fabric had a great heft and structure - a jacket weight fabric. Later in the week, though, I worked up a small length of sport weight 2-ply and knew that was the yarn I wanted to spin.

I don’t have a real long draw technique but I have what I call a modified long draw. When I use this technique I treadle with my left foot and sit almost sideways to the wheel, using the scotch tension with the drive band set up on the small whorl. My forward hand is the left hand and my pinch is very light. My drafting hand is also holding the fibers very lightly and I pull back - or rather, I pull out with my right arm, across my lap, fairly quickly, all the time letting my leading hand pinch open and close as I need to let more twist into the yarn. With this technique I can create a thin, woolen spun yarn of satisfyingly even dimensions and a soft, springy texture.

This isn’t a true long draw - where you definitely do let twist into the yarn while drafting, so that you actually get two points of twist that get stretched apart till the fibers between them accept the twist and poof! suddenly you have a length of yarn. I have experimented with that a bit, but I don’t care for the unevenness of the yarn I get when spinning that way. In fact, I didn’t really care for the unevenness I saw in Patsy Z’s yarn when she demonstrated the technique on her video. It may be that one can create a fairly even yarn using long draw, but I just haven’t seen it. It’s a “for later, after I’ve practiced” technique that I’m just not yet in the mood to learn.

My method is still a fast (for me) way to make yarn. It’s a modified technique where, as the pinch in the fingers of my leading hand opens and closes over the yarn, I can see the energy flowing into the fibers between my two hands. The big difference, as I see it, is that, even though I am drafting swiftly, there is only one point of twist between my hands. But it is still in the “long draw” family of techniques, which is a very spiritual place to be from.

Yes. Spiritual spinning. Not because it is meditative nor in tune with one’s heartbeat; not because of it’s calming effect on self nor because of the peace one generates for others, while spinning. This is an important spiritual act - a ritual perhaps, because when one pulls out the fibers fast, with hands well apart from their staple length, one must trust that the twist will come into the fibers, not only in time to prevent them from breaking apart, but also in time to transfigure them into a beautiful, resilient, useful, pliant, strong and vivacious yarn. In much the same way, one must move out into the world, the unknown, trusting that God will come into you, not only in time to prevent you from falling into the abyss, but also in time to transfigure you into a beautiful, resilient, useful, pliant, strong and vivacious human. We need both the protection of the pinch, which must be gentle, but effective, and the bold courage of that long draw, which moves swiftly and with confidence. The only way to achieve this is to trust. To believe that it will happen because of some fundamental law - in one case a law of physics, in the other, of spirituality.

I am not one who likes ritual (says the woman who eats the same breakfast for years at a time).

Allow me to rephrase that. I am not fond of other’s rituals. But I do like my own. Little repeatable actions that reassure me, comfort me, feed my hungers. Visible steps, observable activities, familiar movements; they offer great opportunities to be reminded of the important things I sometimes forget in my busy, reactive life, all hung about with the fever trees of other people and their wants and demands. Spinning is a pretty spiritual activity, but long draw spinning is my ultimate ritual of faith.

posted by Bess | 6:59 AM