A Passion, Revisited

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Some of our Border Leicester and Gotland-cross sheep grazing up on the hill

I love fiber. In particular, I love yarn, so it follows that I also adore anything having to do with producing or using it. That’s probably true, too. I haven’t done a great deal of knitting (or weaving, or crocheting either) lately, but that’s mostly because the arthritis in my hands has become a problem. I still subscribe to at least half a dozen knitting or fiber magazines, possess a yarn stash, bags of fleeces, and I still have all my equipment in my yarn studio, unused though it may be.

Kromski Polonaise spinning wheel

Kromski Polonaise spinning wheel

I was reminded of this a couple of days ago, when an old post from Facebook surfaced (they like to remind you of your “memories”). Four years ago I bought my spinning wheel—a beautiful Kromski Polonaise model in natural wood color (not stained, like the one pictured). Man, I can’t believe it’s been four years! I always wanted to learn to spin, so it was a red-letter-day when I bought my lovely wheel from a Craigslist ad placed by its former owner—a college student at Seattle Pacific University. It was only lightly-used, and I got it at a bargain price. I can still remember how pleased I felt driving home with my prize.

My 40-inch 8 shaft Macomber Add-A-Harness Loom with bench

My 40-inch 8 shaft Macomber Add-A-Harness Loom with bench

Not long after that I found another Craigslist ad (I used to frequent Craigslist in those days) listing this beautiful 40-inch 8-shaft Macomber floor loom for sale. What a wonderful deal I got on that! The loom was at half-price, plus it came with a boat-load of free stuff thrown in: a loom bench, a tension box, and loads of other goodies like shuttles, reeds, plus a stand for holding bobbins of yarn strung through the tension box. WOW. I could scarcely contain my excitement when Sam and I drove home with all that!

 

I already had bought a 32-inch Kromski Harp Rigid Heddle Loom (and all the stuff that went with it, including a carrying bag) not long before from KnitPicks and had been playing around with that.

My first project (a table runner) set up on my Kromski rigid heddle loom

My first project (a table runner) set up on my Kromski rigid heddle loom

Then Sam bought me a wonderful 24-inch 8-shaft Ashford table loom for Christmas that year. This one is really nifty, because it can be run off a stand with floor pedals, too. I have nearly everything that goes with it, except the floor stand and a second back beam, which I don’t need to have right now anyway.

 

 

Ashford table loom on its stand

Ashford table loom on its stand

All that spinning and weaving paraphernalia is in addition to all the knitting and crocheting gear I have around, most of which I’ve had for years. That stuff I use regularly—at least when I am engaged in a project. I can’t afford to buy loads of yarn anymore, since I’m retired (no Noro for a long time  :(), so it’s good that I have a sizable stash to work from. I mostly like to make gifts for friends and family at Christmastime and whenever somebody has a baby—seems like I’ve made dozens of baby outfits and Afghans in my lifetime. Most recently I gathered up all the things I’d made this past year that were still hanging around and donated them to a silent auction to benefit the husband of one of my nieces who has cancer.

One of the items donated to my niece's husband's silent auction

One of the items donated to my niece’s husband’s silent auction

So, have I spun up bunches of yarn or woven loads of projects? Um, no. I did try to take some classes on how to spin and weave from Weaving Works in Seattle before I retired, but that didn’t work out well—I lived too far away to be able to make it to classes on time (that due to the horrendous traffic). I have bought lots of books and DVDs on how to do those things, but I’m sad to say I have not yet made one skein of yarn with my beautiful wheel from my lovely fleeces. I haven’t made more than a couple of projects with my looms, either. Last year we sold our wonderful Border Leicester and Gotland-cross sheep, so no more fleeces. I miss my sheep (something I never thought I would say in my lifetime), but we had to make a choice on what direction to go, and the Nubian goats won. I dearly love them, and I can buy nicer

A detail of one of the many baby Afghans I've made through the years

A detail of one of the many baby Afghans I’ve made through the years

fleeces more inexpensively than I could produce them myself!

In the future, I’m still hoping and planning to spin up some yarn and learn to use my looms. The first step is to stop being intimidated by them –and I’ve always loved Nike’s motto, “Just do it!” I think my first project will be to complete the set of placemats that I warped on my rigid heddle loom TWO YEARS ago. Tsk.

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