After learning how to make yarn, I have a new appreciation for clothes and handmade textiles. The process was surprisingly simple, especially since three women who have been spinning for years as part of a spinning club taught us. As they said, “it takes five minutes to year, but five years to perfect.” Basically once you have cut the wool off a sheep and combed it so the fibers are parallel, you simply twist it. And twist it. And twist it. Once you run out of wool, add more wool and keep twisting. When yarn and string was originally being made, the twisting was done with just fingers; however, basic tools such as a drop spindle were created to both make twisting easier as well as keep the string taught. I was amazed by how easy the process was. Prior to machinery, I can see why women would go about their daily routines while spinning, because a large part of the process simply muscle memory. This is why I struggled with the process, and became easily frustrated. At first I made the yarn too thin, and the drop-spindle dropped (followed by laughter from the spinning women). Next I made my yarn thicker; however, when adding more wool to elongate the string, the width became very inconsistent. I played it off as if I were trying to make wavy yarn; but deep inside I knew making consistent, straight yarn would take years of practice. Now when I look at any of my shirts and see the tiny little fibers, I appreciate the precision and consistency of the machinery. Yet when I look at textiles made by women who have spun their entire lives, I am astounded by the complexity and skill involved. I understand why textiles were once used as currency.

-Martin Keyt

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