One of my "Facebook Memories" today was from 9 years ago.... a blog post I'd shared there, announcing the arrival of my very first spinning wheel, my beloved Louie S10.
A blast from the past like that got me thinking, about my journey from then, to now.
The wheels I've owned, and loved, and said goodbye to, and what I have learned, both about the craft, and myself.
Boy, have I learned a lot!
A friend from back then had introduced me to spinning by making me a home-made spindle, and I very quickly graduated to buying Louie off eBay, from a seller in Holland.
People do come into our lives, some stay and some go, and some leave behind them a gift, and you can either take it or leave it.
I can't thank her enough for the gift she gave me...
I remember being so excited when he arrived, like I'd come home, and I couldn't stop spinning :)
I learned so much with this guy. He's an Irish tension wheel, so speeding up and slowing down was my tension, and believe it or not, I still spin a bit like that today. He only had 2 speed bobbins, and I could only get to a certain thread fineness with him before he started to pull like mad. It took me a good 12 months to grow out of him though, and during that time, I'd also learned to hand-dye fibre for myself too.
I never learned the true value of different sized whorls until I got my second wheel, Lola (over a year later) a Louet Julia.
Spinning on Lola was like going from a car without power steering, to one with it. That's the only way I can describe it to you (and I don't drive either!) She had 3 whorl speeds, and an actual tension band... it was a complete revelation! We made some beautiful yarn together... in fact one of my skinniest yarns to date was made on her, a 3ply sock yarn I made for my Mum. I hated the sliding hook on her flyer though (yeah, I know) so modified her and put brass hooks on it instead.
I also invested in a Louet Victoria at this time too, so I could take my spinning anywhere.
I had been well and truly bitten.
Also around this time, I signed up for Davids fibre club at Southern Cross Fibre ; I got to spin with a wide varying selection of expertly dyed fibres, in a colour palette I would choose to dye for myself...
I also got my undying love of Polwarth, plus silk and tencel mixes from this fella.
Who is also a lover of the green, doncha know :)
The one and only proper garment I have ever made from handspun yarn was made with Davids fibres, my Elsewhere jacket.
In 2009, I found my Robin on eBay. The pictures in the listing were terrible, and she was sold to me for a song, a fraction of what she's worth.
Now this wheel is a real workhorse, if you want a certain weight of yarn. She has a huge bobbin capacity, which means she's not so good at speed, and she's also really high maintenance... haha... bit like me really.
She's beautifully engineered though, almost silent in motion and stops on a penny.
I love her so much, even with her foibles :)
My next wheel was the biggest mistake I ever made, in a creative sense, and to be perfectly honest with you, I tried to run before I could walk properly, and it was my complete downfall.
In my defense though, she was one of only 150 made, so I had to try, right?
At the time she was the only Cherry Matchless in the UK, and I felt like I was the cat that got the cream. But you know what? I didn't really have a clue what I was doing with her, and the harder I tried, the stupider I felt. Thankfully, I sold her 6 months later to someone who still has her, and loves her like she deserves.
Looking back now, I needed someone to teach me how she worked, but maybe I was a little too arrogant for that at the time. I blamed the wheel for my own inadequacy, and you know what they say about a workman who blames his tools :P
This experience sent me into a downward spiral, one where the Black Dog had full control, and I didn't do any real spinning for over 2 years. There were a lot of other things going on at the time too, and because I didn't have my absolute love of spinning to retreat to, I had no therapy.
The creative wilderness is not a good place to be, especially when it's what you rely on!
Dyeing yarns and fibres is one thing & it only kept me going for so long... but not wanting make my own yarn?
Making yarn is, for me anyway, a really therapeutic process. I choose the fibres, and as they run through my fingers, the troubles I have seem to fade a little.
I have time.
A time and space where I am free to think, and dream of fantastic ideas.
After the Matchless, I still had Robin, but I'd also bought a Louet S51, thinking going back to the beginning would help, but it didn't.
I'd lost all desire (and self confidence) and it took a very good friend to rekindle it.
I'd taught her to spin on a spindle, so I guess holding my hand & leading me back into the rabbit hole was her way of thanking me :P
She came round one day and helped me give my poor Robin a good clean and oiling, and she literally coaxed me and my pretty baby back to life.
This yarn was the first one I really loved making at that time, and I called it 'Coming Home'... because I finally felt like I had returned.
Albeit the same person with the same skills, but with a totally different outlook; to never take this gift I have for granted ever again.
There's been a Kromski Sonata in my life since then, and she is an amazing wheel. Super reliable, she got me through two Spinzillas.
I just recently sent her off to a new home, where I hope she'll nurture a new spinner into loving the craft as much as I do.
So, my new playmate?
A Lendrum :)
And, so far, so good :)
Am spinning faster, but without any loss of quality, which will always be a thing for me because it's just how I am.
A control freak :P
I have no shame in admitting it either!
Thanks for getting through to the end... I can go on a bit.
Sorry.Not sorry :)
It's been an amazing journey sofar, and I look forward to where I'll go next. I just know now that wherever I am taken, I have the skills to support my learning, and the experience to just let it happen.
And if not, there's always cider and blackcurrant :)