The nice folks at Spinning Daily wanted to hear about people's first spinning experiences. I started to post a comment and realized I was writing a book. So, I thought I'd put it here.
I remember my first spinning experience very clearly. The Teenager was 7 years old. There were some lovely women at my local Canada Day celebrations, demonstrating handspinning -- both wheel and spindle. I hadn't been paying much attention, but my daughter? She was transfixed by the spindle. The woman holding it, invited her over to give it a try.
Well. That 7 year old kid suddenly had to have her own spindle. Immediately. It took her two days to earn the $5 needed to procure the starter spindle and some fibre. When we went to her house to get the set, the lady looked at my daughter, looked at me, and pronounced, "You're going to be a spinner!" My response was something like, "Nah, I knit. That's enough for me." She suggested to me that it would be a good idea if there was an adult available, to help the child out of any sticky situations she might find herself in. I thought that was a really smart idea, but it didn't necessarily make me a spinner.
Little did I know...
The lady (her name is Beth) patiently showed me how to apply clockwise spin into a bit of pencil roving. I tried it, myself, and did a pretty good job, but I still wasn't convinced. We took the starter set home, and my kid commenced to spin up every millimetre of the pencil roving we had.
Days later, we were back at Beth's house, looking for more fluff to spin into yarn. That was the day that Beth showed me a natural oatmeal coloured batt and a Turkish spindle. She showed me how to attenuate the batt into something I could spin, and then, showed me how to spin it into yarn. I'm not sure if it was the colour, or the smell, or, even the texture of the fibre between my fingers, but suddenly, I was getting it. I found the slow spin of the bottom whorl spindle somehow hypnotic and relaxing. We took home some more pencil roving for the kid, and two more batts of that lovely oatmeal coloured fluff.
I turned it into beautiful, lumpy, heavy yarn in about 6 hours over the next two days.
The kid and I went back and forth from our house to Beth's several times that first month (no small feat -- she lives in another town), learning a little more every time we visited. Pretty soon the intense interest of the 7 year old waned, but, there I was, wondering what other wonderful bits of fluff Beth had over there. I explored every natural colour of wool that I could get my hands on.
On one of my visits, Beth suggested I enter my first skein into the local fair. I thought she was nuts. She patiently explained that we all have to be beginners some time. It was strictly for fun. So I agreed to put my heavy, lumpy, beginner yarn into the ring with yarns from spinners who had been at it for decades.
I came in Third. (And, yes. There were more than three skeins in that class.)
That was the final motivation for me. I now wanted to try out different breeds of sheep, mohair, alpaca -- anything that I could make hold together on a spindle.
Oh. And those lovely ladies at the Canada Day Celebration?