Posts Tagged ‘spinning’

As sure as Mel Brooks failed to offer History of the World: Part II, this spindler has yet you bring you Rhinebeck: Part II; whilst not a sequel, health, family and life in general has resulted in more delays…frustrating, but out of my control.

The unfinished addendum focused on my time with Kevin and Beth Hansen and their electronic spinner. I learned a lot that day, my time with the Hansen’s a great finale to meeting so many interesting people and seeing the variety of items that make up the world of fiber arts.

Following a hands-on demonstration where I was able to practice using this well-made spinning machine, agreement from my friend and her sisters (whom all seemed impressed with The Hansen’s and their namesake device), I felt fully confident investing in the Hansen e-spinner.

Already, A++ for customer service; most recent: Kevin’s super-fast e-mail reply answering questions regarding battery recommendations. Once I knew I could easily operate the e-spinner home-alone, extra bobbins, a narrow orifice tube and quill attachment easily ordered from the Hansen website also arrived in super-fast speed.

A beautiful maple exterior, simple design, easy for me to pick up on (if you don’t recall, only mere hours earlier I saw a real life spinning wheel for the first time!) and the ability to use from bed, makes this another “tool” that allows me to spin on days I otherwise would not be able; I hope it will increase my production of finished yarn ready to knit or crochet, as it physically takes me longer and longer.

So, yes. I invested in an e-spinner.

Yes, me — self-proclaimed spindler that I am.

And, yes, I like using it.

Yet, it cannot replace my hand spindles.

I feel lost the mornings I am unable to spin in MY living room chair, which, BTW, is in the wrong spot! An issue I have struggled with for many years now. My mother, one of THE MOST caring, loving human beings I will ever know, decided “change is good” and moved MY chair over a year ago. I suggested we move HER chair, so she could reap the benefits of rearranging the living room, but no…she respectfully declined. Just like the only change in congress, the only change in our living room had no benefit to me.

In fact, the power of feng shui is dead in my world…a quick demise for a victim lost in the throes of a struggle in the name of change. Specifically, when it comes to moving MY favorite chair from it’s corner, where all MY favorite chairs spent their days from the time I was a young girl to the present, where I now live at home as an adult…change is NOT good.

I’m not bitter or upset though.


So, I sit in front of the picture window, looking out toward the dining room (table’s in the wrong spot now too! oy.) with one of my three favorite spindles — 2 Russians and a Tibetan. Always, my morning meditation involves spinning one of Loop’s bumps — this particular one is only for mornings. I keep 2 spindles in the bag the fiber came in and grab an S-shaped “lap-bowl” Joshua Lynch designed so I could spin from the wheelchair. It easily works from anywhere — wheelchair, bed, car, LR chair in the wrong spot …

I used to do yoga. Starting off every morning centered, energized; ending my days in poses that drained away the stresses of the day. For awhile, I worked with someone on modified poses for home and sessions in her office, where ropes built into a wall supported and enabled many poses I thought no longer possible. This was pre-wheelchair and other health maladies.

I miss yoga. I miss it very much.

In it’s place, beginning my own meditation of sorts: spinning. Using one of two spindles special to me — in part, because the kindness of the talented individuals that made each; in part, because they are so beautiful; in part, because they bring me the most JOY.

We all have gems in our collections. The one made with your favorite wood. The one that seems to spin forever, effortlessly. The one that fits you hand just so, as if it were literally made for you. The one that came unexpected, that you had extra money to buy, that caught your eye, that has an OOAK property….

I enjoy spinning a great number of my spindles, but two more than all others.

(And, no, I won’t reveal which 2 they are!)

But these 2 spindles helped me accept an important change. (Not the mis-placement of MY chair.)

Maybe choice is a better word.

No longer able to do yoga left me 2 choices: lay in bed missing yoga or find a new way to start my days. I struggled with this for the longest time, until the second of the 2 spindles arrived.

I was lost in the act of spinning. Relaxed, loving the beauty of this new spindle and how soft it felt against my hand — a perfect fit! — watching it spin (it was/is so smooth and fast I sometimes can’t even tell it’s spinning until it slows down! I’ve experienced this with others since, but at that time….this spindle was, well, meant for ME, for my hands — how COOL is that?).

Like saying a mantra over and over, the act of flicking the thin shaft, drafting, another flick to allow the singles to wrap around the shaft just below my fingers. Over and over, like holding a pose to release the stress of the day in my muscles OR painting — brushes in each hand until, viscerally, I knew my work was done.

Singles butterflied onto an ever-growing cop — I knew I found a solution.

All kidding aside, every day I am able, I ask for help to sit in the (ill-positioned) chair and start my day spinning. Not a traditional meditation, but I’ve never been much for conventional ways — in my life, they seem to serve as a place of which to jump off. An understanding of the results of practices like meditation and yoga and an openness to discover I don’t need them to center myself.

Complicated? Never as much as I make it out to be.

Difficult? Yes, sometimes it is difficult when no longer able to do something I love. Something, like yoga, that I would never choose to let go.

Sad? No. Not if my life is defined by limits.

Limitations, like convention, can be a place to dive into the water, with open heart and mind to discover all that is possible.

I’m rambling; it’s late, I’m tired and still want to finish editing more content for the website and blog…but I cannot stop thinking about the importance of possibility. Of how, especially at first, the moment life changes, the moment we look down and no longer see the foundation of which we thought secure to stand upon…

What does one do without ground to stand on?

We fly in the air,
We dive into the water,
We call aweather the wind,
We recognize the earth below.

We realize our feet are never firmly planted in the ground,
They can’t be.
They never were; but —
We know we are OK.

Comfortable in the groundless-ness,
We can see possibility.

Maybe possibility isn’t yoga today; maybe not ever.
I remind myself THAT is OK.

And spin.
Starting over again, each day I am able, with a bag of fiber in the mornings and a spindle.

One of 2 that are so special to me; spin perfect, soft against my hand and bring such JOY — I become lost in the process…

(so lost, some days I forget…the chair on which I sit, is in the wrong spot)

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Got Milk?

Expecting to lose power a la Sandy, I decided today was not conducive to polishing off Rhinebeck: the Sequel.

Each time I went to do any time-consuming activity that involved electricity…power: off.

Aside from a few flickers, to my surprise the lights are still on.

I should quantify the significance of this — we ALWAYS lose power:

Rain: blackout.
Wind: blackout.
Ever so slight northwest breeze: blackout.
Sneeze outside: blackout.
Hurricane: no blackout. what??

Well, there IS still time.


Rainy days and mondays, feeling pretty tired, joints swollen and painful….

Overall, not a productive day.

And, now that it’s time to power off, the juice is flowing fine. Not even a slight flicker — my lamp or my eyes!

This evening I spun Milk Protein for the first time. I felt it before, but not enough of a sample to bother spinning.

I plan to use a Russian turned by Mark at Pumpkin Hill Farm from a piece of Panga Panga.

I know, Panga what? At first appearance, it looks like the negative of wenge. A brief internet search…it’s a relative of wenge! Sibling? Cousin? Second-generation once removed? … Panga and wenge are family. Both from East Africa, with similar hardwood traits; Wenge is notably darker.

My Panga Russian, chosen from my collection for its light weight and fast spin — two traits I find essential when spinning silk on a support. Although my first time spinning this fiber, I am approaching similar as I do silk.

Surprisingly, fiber from milk protein (casein) is not a new conception.

In fact, the use of casein (not as a fiber or beverage component) dates back centuries! An artist, history buff and somewhat nerdy, this exemplifies the sort of tidbit of useless information I carry around in my head. I have a near-photographic memory; “near” as medication, health, possible old age results the occasional wayward tidbit of (useful) information. Sans the opportunity to buzz in questions on jeopardy, the majority of my truly intellectual conversations of late occur with Murph…my dog (shh…it offends him when I call him the D-word).

Oy. A master of segue….


Centuries before the advent of an alternative fiber, casein served as a “binder” of sorts in paints commonly referred to as tempera (not to be confused with tempura, another protein, derived from a Japanese fish dish).

Tempera paints were made by mixing a pigment, egg yolk and something like casein or vinegar or water — the latter three or similar substances meant to prevent cracking by extending the time it takes an egg yolk to dry. Adding substances like casein enabled artists to control the consistency of paint; unlike water-based acrylics, I used to know artists that used tempera as a base layer to conserve on oils or, better, conserve on money). Although not completely passé (I used as a kid!); I don’t recall seeing tempera as the primary medium in a work of art for decades — last that comes to mind: Andy Warhol….think early Warhol? My art history regarding such facts is limited and this blog is about fiber arts.

Still, it’s art and if not interested in a few facts I’m overjoyed to have a use for, kindly skip the next few paragraphs.

The casein extended the life of the tempera; many community buildings with mosaics or maybe it’s merely murals (?? see, a detail I cannot recall!) that have stood the “test of time” (ugh. I’m so tired I resorted to cliché) contain casein in the paint.

During the first world war, casein paints were used to create camouflage. My Uncle Mike, a proud Marine, talented artist and mentor of sorts — art and life — helped to create camouflage during WWII. He was a well respected and known local artist, but I’m not sure if he designed or actually helped paint it…just know he was very proud to share with me the non-violent contributions to the US war efforts.

What does this have to do with spinning fiber?


Well, a little. During the WWII, when many families were still struggling as a result of the depression and other families needed to watch pennies with so many husbands overseas milk fiber was a common textile.

Produced in Italy and the US around the WWII (possibly earlier) casein was used as a more economic alternative to wool. Not as successful, I assume, as it hasn’t been used for this purpose in any major way of which I am aware.

I read this long before I ever saw or felt a sample of milk protein fiber; so, when it arrived, I was very surprised! It doesn’t feel or spin like “wool.”

Milk protein is soft and light and the fibers….well, you know how silk fibers seem to easily part? Say, if you grabbed a length of mulberry silk and brought your hands together — you can see individual fibers…they don’t “cling” in the same way as Merino or Corrie wool.

Yet, the attractiveness of the fiber is obvious — it’s lovely, takes color, has moisture-resistant properties similar to wool (a factoid I read in a recent shop’s description). I can’t say whether it drapes similar, if it feels breathable if you wear an item or the care needed to wash it.

I must say, knowing it was used as substitute to wool, I expected it to look, feel and spin similar to wool. Yes, wool is a broad term; maybe baby alpaca or something similarly slick. However, to me, it looks and feels like silk — not as shiny as a Mulberry/Bombyx, but possibly a Tussah — the kind I recently heard described as “creamy.”

Yes. Milk protein fiber is like an unpasteurized, creamy, opaque Tussah.

Now, a day later — storm, not feeling well or blog-erly — and too lazy to try to find the source of these facts when I first heard about milk fiber for spinning a few years ago. Milk fiber is not the eco-friendly dream granola nuts like myself assumed when first hearing about “alternative” fibers.

Myth: Milk fiber does not use chemicals.

It does. Same as rayon. Same as Acrylic. Well, maybe different chemicals..
I don’t know. The chemicals listed…well, don’t eat your milk fiber.

Myth: Milk fiber is good for the environment.

Nope. Not even a little. From cow to liquid to binders that make it a solid fiber — it is not a completely eco-friendly process. Whether it’s more/less harmful than making a rayon…I don’t know.

Myth: Milk protein fibers are similar to wool.

Um, not really. Certainly there is some overlap in properties….however, if you want to wear/make a woolen item, buy wool.

Myth: Milk protein fiber should be avoid if you have lactose intolerance.

That’s just me being silly!
In all seriousness, my sense is sheep need not be concerned spinners, crochet and knitters and weavers will abandon all love for a nice fleece or the fiber and yarn made from it.

That said, I am enjoying this lovely sample of milk fiber I’m spinning. I was surprised with how well it took color. I’m not sure how to set the twist when finished though!

I received this truly generous sample Roo, from Moonwood Farms, placed in the box of a recent order. Truly generous in size, as well as the time she took to dye the sample — the sample-braid is just as lovely as every other item I ordered.

Where most would send un-dyed or a surplus of whatever fiber/colorway on hand — and that’s fine — my lovely milk is dyed in my favorite (greens), a color that matches other items in my order.

I LOVE when sellers include fiber samples in my order — fiber and spindle purchases. The latter, I have fiber in hand to spin the moment I remove the spindle from the box. Malcolm Felding (The Lace and Bobbin Shop) has given the largest sample of a single fiber to date — TAZ Corrie…which changed my mind about Corriedale!

And I can easily list five shops that gave me samples of fibers I hadn’t used prior and, because of this, I made purchases I otherwise would not have made.

Sometimes, if unsure about a shop or fiber, I will ask for a sample; many oblige and each time, I’ve purchased the fiber. Sometimes, if it’s a shop I frequent and I know they include samples, I ask to try something new.

And sometimes, on my fiber-bucket list, sits a fiber I really want to spin, but I put it off — money, availability, a large fiber stash — and a talented fiber artist (like Roo) throws a sample of the very fiber sitting atop your wish-list.

Got Milk?

Yes, Indeed I do.


(between the storm, not feeling well and other goings-on…seems my musings are posted days after writing. I still need to finish Rhinebeck, but with tired eyes, hope this doesn’t have many grammar errors!)

PS: Getting REALLY close to announcing the site — maybe next week. Depends on how I’m feeling and whether I can complete the writing I want to in that amount of time…almost there.

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The site is very close! Spindle Talk articles can be easily found vis a drop-down tab at the top or at the side navigation.

I signed up for a Twitter account. I don’t know what to do with it…but seemed like a good step.

I am still working on some articles I hope to finalized before I announce the site.

Banner and logo…I’ve drawn a creative blank, but hope genius will strike me (or someone else willing to share) mighty soon.

Things are coming together beautifully!

original post:

Thanks to the help of Anthony Garcia and Ariel Soulag, A Spindler’s Musings is finally taking form and looking cooler than I imagined!

I am very excited!

For those if you you have been privy to the stages of conception to web, I continue to appreciate your support and feedback.

You will find easy access to “spindle talk” pages — with a most recent interview with Joshua Lynch of TexasJeans.

Three additional pages appear in the upper navigation — “spindles,” “spinning” (which I like to think of as the “informational pages” — but too long a title) and “contact me.”

I set up an e-address specifically for this website. Although you can make comments on the very first page, commentary has been turned off for all other pages — I want to keep these as valid sources of information that can be used and expanded upon in the future. Personally, I feel too many comments can clutter pages — esp. those designed to be informational rather than opinion.

Recognizing that visitors may want to leave a comment, you can have a comment approved on the “hello friends” page or blog.

Although I’ve yet to fully decide how large of a roll the blog will play — just announcements or brief snippets into projects I’m working on or new tools I test or what spindles I’m using or…whatever.

If you’d like to hear about some of my personal projects, please contact me with feedback — I’ve never used a blog before and want this website to be most successful.

Please note that other than announcements, my blog entries should not be taken as an endorsement, recommendation or discouragement of any spindles, fibers, stores and so on. “Official” review and discussions will remain under “spindle talk.”

So, I know I still have some work to do — been a bit under the weather and unable to figure out how to make the site look/feel as I envisioned. I think it is coming along nicely, thanks to the two gentlemen helping in more ways I could list here.

We are getting close!
Please e-mail me direct for comments or suggestions.

Happy spinning!

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Another new interview!

Check out Spindle Talk with Gary and Monica Thompson of Just Ducky Handspun!

More about Gary’s spindles to come soon!
As well as spindles by Enid and Neal!

Working on setting up the website is a larger learning curve than I expected … but, things are coming along and new pages discussing spindles — what to look for; types and styles; wood choices; spindle shops — I plan to post topics such as these in the coming weeks.

Thank you!

New page:

Look under Spindle Talk pages for a short interviews with Enid Ashcroft and Neal Brand!

More about Enid’s and Neal’s spindles to come soon! Thank you.

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