Back in November I signed up for a brand new online creativity course, Journey to the Golden Fleece, from the Fibery Goodeness masterminds Arlene (Spin Artiste) and Suzy (Woolwench). I've always been fascinated with myths and tales of heros and their epic journeys since listening to Joseph Campbell lectures in my college days. Arlene and Suzy have pulled together a fantastic course based on the journey of Jason and the quest for the legendary golden fleece. The goal is to boost your creativity through exploration of the course themes and challenges much in the way of the hero's journey.
I created my first yarn in December. The Module One theme isThe Call To Adventure. The goal is to spin a yarn that represents who you were at the beginning of your path to creative discovery. Granted, it was right before the holidays and I had a lot going on so I didn’t spend a huge amount of time spinning, but I was inspired early on to do some self-exploration on how I got started spinning. Recognizing what came “before" and confronting the agents for change was an important part of the first module theme. I started looking around and collecting objects that I felt represented myself and my environment before I got started in the fiber arts.
Collection of Materials for My Mod 1 Yarn
Cotton boll, mini crocheted flowers, Frozen Charlotte Doll
I used a variety of fibers in the yarn and actually built some of the sections separately using a drop spindle, crochet hook, and a spinning wheel to chain ply most of it. The start of the yarn contains mohair yarn with pearl beads. I then crocheted (I just learned to crochet!) metal wire and threaded the yarn through the chain and secured the Frozen Charlotte doll with the wire to the strand of yarn I was building.
Crocheting the Frozen Charlotte Doll With Metal Wire
I incorporated other fibers and sections of yarn spun from raw cotton, cashmere, wool locks from local farms, Angelina, and bits of fabric and sparkly trim and chain plyed the finished piece.
Detail of My Module 1 Yarn
When I first became intrigued with the idea of spinning my own yarn, I had no idea where to start and I was just learning about different fibers. I’ve always loved cotton (I even tried to grow some but it never sprouted L). I had purchased a kit with raw cotton of different types and then put the box away and never touched it. This this yarn represented the beginning of my journey I decided it was finally time to take the cotton out and try to spin some. I used a drop spindle and really didn’t do anything to prepare the fiber – I just jumped right in. Cotton has a short staple length so I had to get used to spinning it, but I found it lovely to work with. It’s so amazingly soft and there is something very pleasing about the feel of cotton. I had that commercial theme song in my head the whole time as I was spinning (the touch, the feel of cotton…) I know, goofy but they were right. I’ve lived in Virginia for 18 years and cotton has a rich colored history here in the South (being raised a Yankee girl that’s still hard for me to admit). But controversy aside, I think it’s underrated as a foundational fiber by a lot of handspinners.
I’ve mainly stayed with protein fibers in my yarn (wool, alpaca, mohair) and haven’t ventured too much into cellulose or synthetic fibers. I kind of have a tendency to stick with what I know so this was an opportunity to try something news. One fiber I had never spun (most because of the cost) is cashmere. This represents to me some of my earlier perceptions about fiber – it’s sort of considered the Cadillac of fleece and produces the ultimate luxury yarn. It also brings me to the beginning of my journey and how it ended up in my Mod 1 yarn…
The weekend I received my first course module I felt like getting out of the house and was looking for something different to spin, so I decided to go to a yarn store about 25 minutes away. I’ve always thought that things that were meant to be happened for a reason, even the bad things. This is kind of a long story but about five years ago I started working for a company on a short term six-month contract. I had just been laid off from my previous job and was willing to take a job with a longer (terrible) commute. I wasn’t totally happy in doing so, but it paid the bills blah, blah, blah. I kind of felt like this was a turning point in my career and my outlook in general. I ended up there because I took a risk and left a perfectly good job at a company I had worked for several years to go to another company to work for someone I knew. I chose the seemingly wrong fork in the road and the new job was a dead end. Within five months I was left stranded and was looking for a new job. So I took this contract to basically pay the bills.
But as it turned out, I met a really great coworker there who loved to knit. I had been looking to take spinning lessons for a long time with no luck finding any. I had Googled it and tried to find a guild near me but the Interwebs were no help. I mentioned this to my new friend and she said, “hey, there is a great yarn store down the road and I know they teach spinning there”. We went there on our lunch break and within a few weeks I had taken several classes and purchased a spinning wheel. I left that contract a few months later to work for an online education company that provides alternative learning to students across the country (a mission I fully support). Someone I worked with previously at that “good” job I left recommended me for the position and I’ve been there since.
So getting back to the cashmere... I just so happened to go back to that yarn store where I took my first spinning lessons on the same day I got my first Module for the course. This wasn’t intentional (at least not on a conscious level), but it brought me back full circle to where I started my journey. They had some packages of cashmere fleece there and I eagerly grabbed a bag because it was so irresistible and I had never spun cashmere before.
Another funny thing happened that day. On my way home I decided to stop by Craftystitches, a design studio that teaches sewing and knitting based on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning. I had wanted to go check it out for a while and I spontaneously decided to pop in that day. I got to chatting with the owner we ended up planning for me to do some spinning demos and teach the kids. I’ve always loved the idea of teaching and supporting education through the arts for children so this was right up my alley. So I went from being a student to a teacher and passing on handspinning to the next generation all in one round trip. And that’s the story behind this yarn. It starts with a Frozen Charlotte and along the way are feathers, seashells, crocheted flowers, lace, a key, and a tiny compass to remind me of where and why I began and where I’m headed.
My Finished Module 1 Yarn
Materials: Wool, cashmere, cotton, fabric, trim, Angelina, feathers, metal, porcelain, seashells