Tuesday, July 20, 2010


While V is out of the country on a business trip, I took advantage of a weekend class in handspinning at Indigo Studios - which I googled.

Knitting has been experiencing something of a renaissance in the US, along with handspinning to a lesser extent. I do not find hand crafts particularly popular among the Spanish - especially among the younger generations. My mother in law knits and sews but none of her 4 daughters do. Although it may be becoming more popular again since I´ve been looking for a knitting class and finding them all with waiting lists.

I think all fibre and textile arts are fascinating, but mostly I´m looking for an excuse to keep hypothetical sheep at our hypothetical Galician farm.

Anyway, Lala was terrific (and Gallega!). She´s been doing textile work for years, along with working for various crafts associations. A few years ago she had a studio in Madrid, but lost the lease. Now she gives classes from her home in Titulcia outside of Madrid and does the conference circuit. She´s off to Costa Rica in August/September. This is the church in Titulcia - I apologize for the quality of the pictures, but I´m still limited to my cell. There were storks in the nests of the steeple and on the roof to the right.

In two eight hour days I got to wash, card and spin wool (Leicester, Merino, Gotland, and generic ¨Spanish¨ mutt as well as Mohair and silk).

Carding aligns the fibres and gets rid of some of the ¨vegetable matter¨ caught in the fleece. It is exercise. I have a bruise on my left forearm from the paddle handle and my shoulders felt it afterwards. Depending on what you load on the paddle you can mix different fibres and/or colors before spinning into yarn.

When you´re through carding you roll the fibre off the paddles and roll them into bundles or rolags (croquetas in Spanish). These are Gotland (grey) and mohair.

Then I was using a drop spindle. This is an old method of spinning - which is basically teasing the fibers into a long piece and then twisting into a strand for strength. It´s easier to do this standing up - which makes sense since often people do it while walking from one place to another. The weight of the spindle combined with the spin you give it manually creates the mechanism for producing yarn. After you´ve twisted a length you have to stop, unfasten the strand, wind up what you´ve done, and continue on.

And then I got to try 2 different wheels - a Louet and an Ashford.

My final yarn was still too thick and ropey, but didn´t have the egregious lumps that the first day had. My favorite was a combination of merino yarn (lumpy) then twisted with mohair (also lumpy but much finer).

Sixteen hours sitting took its toll on my backside - but it was challenging, very enjoyable and I learned a lot and made a delightful acquaintence.

I sense there will be more crazy ideas coming out of this.

An amazing knitting/fibre arts resource: www.ravelry.com
and to buy cool stuff: www.etsy.com

I´ll be absent for a while as I´m going stateside while my mother recovers from back surgery. I´m confident absolutely nothing will happen Europe since everyone will be on vacation until September.

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