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50 Cove St
Portland, ME, 04101
United States

(207) 780-1345

Located in the East Bayside area of Portland, Maine, we strive to provide an encouraging community for fellow fiber-lovers by offering classes and carrying supplies for weavers, spinners, wet felters, needle felters, and dyers.  Stop in and let us help you on your merry fiber way!  

Saying Goodbye to Learning Yarns

PortFiber Blogginess

Casey and Julie's ramblings on spinning, weaving, felting, dyeing, and of life in Portland, Maine.

Saying Goodbye to Learning Yarns

Casey Ryder

Howdy all!

Casey and I thought it would be fun if I stepped in on the blog now and then to talk about what I'm up to (I mean, I've got crafting fever almost as bad as she does, right?)  So here goes!

This Saturday (April 25th) marks the start of summer farmer's markets here in Portland.  Casey and I will be at Deering Oaks park Saturday mornings with an artisan's table, selling our new felting kits and hand-spun yarn.  

In preparation for this, I took a deep breath and took the plunge!  I'll explain...

Back in August I decided that the next step on my fiber journey needed to be mastery of woolen yarns (go big or go home!)  I had fiddled around with spinning woolen on my spindles before, but it always felt tenuous and unsafe, as if I had no safety line.  I've always felt that the essence to anything is found in it's action, if only you're open to seeing it.   While I love reading about the theories and whys behind spinning (or any physical phenomenon), there needs to be a certain amount of open, conscious practice before something new can click.  

From August to November I practiced my supported long draw on several of my drop spindles, little by little gaining confidence as I watched how my actions influenced my singles.  I spun through two pounds of roving (some suffolk/southdown/romney from a destash).  By the end of it I definitely felt comfortable with supported long draw (the finished skeins are pretty consistent, especially since I plied older and newer singles together), and was able to pick up a true long draw with my support spindle not too long after.  I also learned how to ply on a wheel (before PortFiber I did everything on my spindles, which I'm proud of, but plying big projects can be a pain on a spindle) with this same yarn.

The 11 (OK, really more like 10.5) resulting skeins done, I stepped back and thought, 'now what?'  I had been assuming all along that this yarn would eventually become a large project, a sweater or something, which would have been fine.  Truth be told, though, I enjoy spinning much more than knitting, and after spinning and plying all two pounds of roving I was ready to say goodbye.

The decision was just a teensy-bit hard to make.  Wasn't I supposed to cherish my first sweater quantity of hand-spun?  Luckily I tend to be fairly unsentimental, so into the dye pot my handspun went.  Over about two weeks, I dyed each skein individually in PortFiber color-ways.  I enjoyed specifically not dyeing my own color-ways as it felt that I was beginning to distance myself from handspun that I would sell, though I couldn't have articulated this at the time.

So there you have it!  If you stop by our booth on a Saturday, you'll probably see at least a partial pile of my supported long-draw skeins.  Looking back on it, this project follows the arch of my creative process as much as any of my drawings or prints ever did; I start with a goal (usually a new skill I want to learn), and while that remains constant throughout, everything else is in constant flux.  As with all my other work as well, my enjoyment of it is in the process and experience of it- the final product is almost irrelevant.