There’s such electric possibility in knowing nothing at all. And that’s why my world has a new gravitational center these days:


This is Ginevra. She’s a pocket wheel, built by hand on Whidbey Island out of a few well-considered pieces of hardware and some beautiful wood. I’ve been curious about spinning for many years, and I’ve done some drop spindling here and there, but what pushed me over the edge—I cannot tell a lie—is the sheer beauty and economy of design in Jon McCoy’s pocket wheels. Ginevra is so little she can travel in a diaper box (though I really must find her a more dignified vehicle), so I didn’t have to commit a whole section of a room to this new craft; she’ll tuck right under my farm table work surface (just as soon as the paint dries on the legs). It took me a couple of moments adjusting the tension to find the right amount of draw (and here you’ll have to forgive me for knowing nothing of the spinning language, either… I can say the equivalent of “Dónde está el baño?” in Spinning, but I’m not going to understand the answer) and then I was away with my first ball of roving.


My sweet little wheel hums along so agreeably that I don’t have to think about my treadling much, which is fortunate because I need to bring all my attention to bear on the drafting. I’m wholeheartedly committed to making some very ugly yarn in the beginning. I’m quite sure this is frightfully lumpy and overspun and I’ve already apologized to the blameless Cormo sheep who grew it, so that’s all fine. I saw a lot of improvement as I went along filling my bobbin.


This puzzle remains: Cormo (or at least this roving) is full of curious little puffballs. I can sort of tease them apart and ease them in amongst the smoother fibers, but I hit patches of wool where there are so many it hardly seems worth it. These nebbly bits of sheep’s knickers invariably cause funny underspun lumps in my yarn, and for now I’m going to call them rustic character and let them lie, but I’d dearly like to know how real spinners cope with them.

What’s jolly grand is that I’m bound for Madrona in a few weeks’ time, and there I’m sure to get some sage advice from friends. I have thrown myself into the deep end and signed up for a class on spinning Shetland with Judith MacKenzie McCuin. The class description said “must be able to spin a continuous thread.” At first I assumed this meant not breaking the yarn every few meters, and I reckoned I had six weeks to practice and if I kept at it every day I was bound to have cleared that low bar. Later it occurred to me that continuous is rather a vague word. It might mean continuous in quality, in which case I’m up a creek. Judith might not be impressed that it took me 30 minutes of rising panic to get the tension right again after I switched bobbins for the first time. I’m about to try it again and I’d better be able to improve considerably on my pit stop time. (This time I also have to reverse the tension for plying. Thank Wool for the internet, without which I wouldn’t even know that I have to treadle backwards for this step. The good folk of the Pocket Wheel group on Ravelry have already saved me buckets of frustrated tears.)


This is such a lark. I have no idea what I’m going to end up with when I assemble my smart new lazy kate and let my scraggly singles meet. I promise to show you the homely results. I love that I’ve grown up enough to savor being a beginner.