Spinning and Knitting


spindleHello!  My name’s Karen and I’m a knitter and spinner from the US.  Spinning and knitting are two of the things that bring me joy.  They’re very different, but related, activities.  In fact, one of those activities led straight into the other – but not in the order some might expect.

When I was a very little girl, about the same age my daughter is now, my mother tried to teach me to knit.  She had made lots of things for my sister and me; sweaters, hats, mittens and gloves, pretty much the usual little kid stuff back in the late ’60s.  I remember her making some valiant efforts to teach me.  No matter how hard I tried, it just never made sense.  Then I tried crochet the next year (shh…), and that was that for my fiber efforts.

Fast forward about 20 years or so.  My husband and I were traveling in the North Carolina mountains and went into a pretty large fiber arts store in our favorite mountain town.  I mentioned that I had tried spinning cotton not long before, and that it wasn’t going very well.  Could they give me some help, or at least show me what I was doing wrong?

“Oh baby, cotton’s pretty tough to learn on.  Here, try this.”  She offered me a spindle behind the counter and some medium-fine roving to try.  It was like magic.  It made huge gigantic super-duper bulky yarn, but yarn it was.  Yarn that held together too.  When we went home, with a small drop spindle and about a kilo’s worth of roving, I started making yarn.  I haven’t stopped yet. Well, maybe a couple of times here and there…

Spinning brought me back to trying knitting again.  Somewhere in those 20 years I had figured out how to make the sticks work together to create a fabric.  Real stuff, like my mother had made.  Just like the spinning, I’ve only stopped for brief periods of time.  One of the longest times was when our daughter was placed with us.  I can’t ever remember being tired like that before or since.  One day when I was whining to a friend about not realizing how much work an infant could be, she mentioned trying to spin again.  I couldn’t spin at a wheel – babies usually don’t stay still and calm long enough to use a wheel  – but drop spindling was something I could do.  So I did.  In fact, I spun enough to make myself a tank top.  Bright pink and black silk, with little angora skulls around the top.  In those very early days of being a mum, it helped me stay relatively sane.

Both knitting and spinning have done more for me than keep me sane.  They’ve helped me to make friends and given me lots of exciting experiences (like the time I helped out with a shearing day).  They have also given me many hours of pleasure.

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Thank you very much Spyderkl. You can read more from Spyderkl here.

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