Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Thomas Merton

Friday, April 22, 2011

Have Fiber Will Travel

I almost always have some fiber and something to twist it with in my van. The van has become my traveling fiber studio. Having ready access to spinning gear is a great way to both pass the time while waiting for appointments or people and to get more spinning done. Sometimes I have my spinning wheel with me, but most of the time I use a drop spindle because of its portability. On this particular day late last summer, I was at one of the Marshall County Parks on Lake Guntersville for a couple of hours and decided to blend some pink, blue, and gold wool to see what the outcome would be.

The traveling studio. Left to right: large Ziploc bag of assorted fibers; basket with some of my spun yarns from a recent craft show, a few drop spindles, a mini niddy noddy for skeining yarn; another Ziploc bag with more fiber and yarn; a birch bark basket for holding whatever needs to be contained, also good for display purposes; shoebox with sundry spinning tools, wool combs, and other supplies; clear plastic bin with carders, pens, paper, bags for storing fiber or yarn, and miscellaneous stuff; a rug that serves as a ground cover for my spinning wheel when I spin with it outside, to keep it from sliding on slick surfaces, or to mark my space when spinning at gatherings, shows, or demos; two things that aren't really part of the spinning studio--a plastic bag of books to go to the Friends of the Library bookstore and a critter carrier left over from taking one of the cats to the vet, but good for transporting wooler-type bunnies if I happen to be enticed to buy one at a fiber festival (generally, I'm pretty good at resisting temptation, but it is becoming increasingly difficult; I almost came home from the Tennessee Fiber Festival last May with a beautiful grey Angora bunny). Not shown: folding lawn chair and folding TV tray/table, essential for a variety of uses besides spinning.

Another shot of the studio.

What a great place to sit and spin.

Closer view of some of the sailboats

Partial contents of my spinning emergency kit: twine--especially handy when a drive band breaks; drop spindle parts including small bag of paper clips and cup hooks for spindle hook repairs; hand lotion; snacks; and a bottle of musical instrument oil for spinning wheel lubrication. In the upper part of the photo is the bag containing the fibers I blended during my visit to the park and the birch bark basket with a little bit of wool I blended before making the photo. Not shown: assortment of small jewelry pliers and wire cutter, emery boards, small pieces of cloth, pocket knife, rubber bands.

The drop spindle I used for that day's spinning session. I make these spindles using wooden toy truck wheels, wooden dowels, and small cup hooks or large paper clips worked into a hook shape. I like to have spindle parts with me in case someone wants to learn to spin. Rather than starting prospective spinners on one of my many other purchased spindles that I often have with me, I make them their own spindles that they can take with them. I sometimes make up starter kits that contain a spindle and a small amount of fiber for purchase when I attend craft shows or demonstrations because of the frequency of requests for on-the-spot lessons.

A carder loaded with the pink, blue, and gold wool. I had these various colors of wool with me and decided to have some fun blending them rather than spinning the colors separately.

After a few passes to blend the colors.

A roll of blended, carded wool, commonly known as a
rolag, ready to spin.

Some of the spun fiber. Single-strand, unplied yarn, known as "singles". The lighting made it difficult to capture the colors properly.

Finished two-ply (two-strand) yarn on the niddy noddy (skein winder).

Skein of completed sample of blended two-ply yarn ready to be wound into a ball for knitting.

Finished swatch of blended yarn, stockinette stitch with garter stitch border. I only blended enough fiber to spin a few yards of yarn, so the color distribution would be somewhat different in a larger swatch. I think I like it. I'll need to dye more yarn if I want to make more of this particular blend.

One of the things that I enjoy about having spinning as a hobby is that it is so portable. I can stuff a few essential items in a backpack or a large purse and be ready to spin just about anywhere. Here around Lake Guntersville is of my favorite spinning spots.


  1. What a wonderful view to "sit and spin" and I liked your traveling studio. It looked like a peaceful place...something I will have to look for around here this summer and be creative. Water is always a good source of creative energy!
    Have a Happy Easter!
    Smile today. :)

  2. Great! We once made drop spindles for kids with old CD's. Many years ago, in a different life, BL spent much time on that lake!

  3. Wonderful!! Next time you sit and spin by the lake let me know and I'll bring a chair!!

  4. Very impressed with your portable spinning studio Melissa. You have everything you need to hand. I enjoyed the lessons too. It is a completely unknown world to me.

  5. oh how lovely to sit by the lake and spin...

  6. Gloria, d.moll, Crafty Green: yes, sitting by the water seems to both inspire creativity and soothe the soul. I enjoy my time there, even when I just sit and watch.

    RG: I usually have my spinning students make spindles out of CD's. It's a great way to recycle.

    Eve: every time I pass Keller's Bait Shop, I think of you. I really should call, but my trips there are usually very spur of the moment. I still have those milkweed seeds for you...

    Cathy: Glad you enjoyed it!

  7. that's great!! how relaxing...clearing of the sit by the lake...and do what you enjoy the most!!