Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spinning 101

Yesterday was my first spinning class.  Since moving to New Mexico I have become very interesting in fibers of all kinds and feel like I'm in the right place to learn more about them.  There are fiber guilds all over the state and many people that have been weaving, spinning and knitting for decades.  I was lucky enough to be introduced to one of these people: JoAnn.  Yesterday was my first spinning class with her.  She has been spinning for over 30 years and holds an intense one-on-one class for those ready to learn to spin.

Spinning school consists of eight, four hour one-on-one sessions.  Yesterday was day one.  She is a wealth of information and has an extensive fiber library.  I was able to see and touch cultivated worm silk, tussan wild worm silk including unprocessed cocoons, alpaca fleece, wool, spun copper, soy silk, flax, mohair and many more neat fibers.  Like my teacher, I find wool the most interesting - there are over 900 breeds of sheep and each breed has different wool as well as each flock in those breeds as well as each sheep in that flock - every fleece is different from another, no two sheep are the same.   What I also find interesting is cotton.  Did you know that cotton comes in over 40 colors naturally including blue?  My husband and I try to be as environmentally friendly as possibly and try to strive for self sustainability so the thought of having our own sheep and goats and growing our own cotton for spinning some day makes me very excited.

This is the basic:  learning to make thread and yarn.  Being able to control the dyes used in our clothing is so important to me.  We have both been reading Living Downstream by Sandra Steingraber and realizing the importance of small things like this.  According to her book, "Elevated cancer rates are also found among painters, welders, asbestos workers, plastics manufactures, dye and fabric makers, firefighters, miners, printers, and radiation workers."  This is another reason why I use organic unbleached cotton in my items for Ash Tree Organics.  The chemicals used to dye clothing these days are carcinogenic.  Raising our own sheep and growing our own cotton is just the next step for us.  It's our way of getting one step closer to being off the map.  Besides wool and mohair,  sheep and goats are good for making milk, soap, and cheese.  It's a long way off, but for now Spinning School is teaching me a whole new world about wool and fibers and I can't wait to start showing you what I make.  My homework assignment is to spin the pink fiber (pictured above) onto my spindle before the next class.  Wish me luck!

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