Learning the Long Draw

Gill taught me to spin, and I also learned much from Jean once spinning group started. Both ladies are lifelong spinners – and very good ones. But both seemingly spin the way that they have always spun – and this is what I have been doing since I started in 2007. It did not take long for me to learn that there is more than one way to achieve the end, and that different means achieve different products.

My interest has long been piqued.

More recently I have been making some effort to learn more. The little that I learned has suggested to me that I actually need to learn the long draw, and also to spin “woollen”. The thing is, I am getting a lot of pain in my left wrist, from the “worsted death grip” – try as I may, I cannot consciously relax my grip (not without losing my yarn). Spinning has to be limited to short periods, and cannot be too frequent. This is frustrating.

As I learn about the long draw it is becoming evident that it could be my panacea. It is such a relaxed way of spinning, and it is necessary to have the lightest of touches.

It is not easy.

Not after several years of spinning the one way.

I am making lots of mess. I am flinching at the waste of good fibre.

I have watched longdrawjames at work, and also spindlecity and the amazing Ruth McGregor (added bonus – fiddle music) all on YouTube, and I have returned to watch Maggie Casey and Abby Franquemont at work in Interweave videos.

They all make it look so very easy… but I was obviously missing something.

Maggie Casey makes much of the automatic and intuitive nature of spinning. I agree with her. Once you cease falling from the bicycle you can simply empty your mind and the whole thing becomes remarkably Zen – the fibre and resulting yarn flow into your fingertips and out of the wheel with seemingly little involvment from the spinner – it just pours out. Spinning is a very relaxing activity – once you have the hang.

Giving myself a new hang to get hold of has rather blown the relaxation side for a while. BUT… I was practising away when Mr L came in to ask me something. I was telling him how I felt like a beginner again and about how very difficult all this is and I suddenly realised that I was just doing it as I spoke. It had started to go right all of a sudden, because I had half my mind elsewhere and had stopped trying too hard.

As the immortal DNA would have put it, I had thrown myself at the ground, and missed.

While I was talking to Mr L, my body had made an intuitive leap about what to do and I was automagically producing an even, fine single.

How about that?

I hope that I can reproduce the trick when I return to my wheel.

As for spinning “woollen” – my researches suggest that I can make the most of the fact that I card my fibre by spinning it woollen and that the resulting yarn would suit my knitting nature better than any of the yarn that I have produced so far. This is one learning curve that will certainly be worth the climb.

I am going to keep at it. I look forward to being the kind of spinner who can intentionaly produce the right yarn for a chosen project.

I want to make funky yarns too – but that offers too little resistance and is too easy a path to tread. I want to apply some discipline and learn to control my spinning and be more of a technical spinner first. The reward will be all the lumpy bumpy curly stuff.

I can’t wait!

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