Back in the summer I bought a spinning wheel–a little Schacht Ladybug with which I have completely fallen in love. It was slightly an impulse purchase, and I didn’t really know what I was doing at first. After a workshop at Georgia Fiberfest, however, and some gentle instruction from a few good and patient friends, I’m getting more comfortable with it. My singles are getting smoother and more uniform, and my two-ply yarn is looking more like . . . well . . . yarn, and less like the nest of a very troubled wren.
Since I started spinning, it’s been fun to collect fiber samples with interesting origins and to feel the differences amongst breed, region, individual animal, preparation–fiber that comes with a story. One of my favorite FFE’s (future farm enablers), Alison of Phoenix Farm Fiber, sent me a couple of small samples of Shetland sheep roving, including one from her own ram, Angus, whom we actually met on our visit to her farm back in December. I spun both of them up (Angus’s is the softest fleece I have ever worked with). I had experimented with some natural dyes on a piece of white roving I picked up somewhere along the line, so I spun it up and added it to the pile. A friend brought me home some lovely grey Shetland roving from SAFF last year, so it went on the wheel and into the growing collection.
Eventually I had a random but complementary assortment of hand-spun skeins, none of which were large enough for a project on their own, but all of which were curious little treasures unto themselves. I also had one skein each from a couple of other beloved projects–including a lovely beige Eden Cottage Bowland DK my Sweet Feller from Texas had brought home for me from Loop in London a couple of years ago (BOYFRIEND BONUS POINTS!). Plus some creamy laceweight alpaca from my friend Liza at Merritt Farm. So on a cold winter morning in early January, I decided to work all of these oddments and assortments into a shawl.
It was a travel project. I had a rather miserable trip to Texas, and having that shawl on my needles kept me going on planes and in airports and hotels through a rotten head cold and a bout of homesickness. When I got home and well again, I carried it on my shuttle ride back and forth to work for a week.
I didn’t really have a written pattern per se, but I am sure there are patterns like this out there. I started a feather-and-fan pattern that increased in the center and on each edge. My goal was to make it wider than I am tall (not quite there but it’s wide enough). I started with Angus, since it was the smallest scrap and I wanted his softness closest to my neck, then I added the other bit from Alison/Phoenix Farm. Then the Eden Cottage bit. The colors and patterns gradually revealed themselves. I worked on it for about 2 1/2 weeks, then bound it off and added a top crochet chain border to frame it all together.
Here is the result. It is all I had hoped for–ample, warm, full of stories and personal connections. Fleeces I have buried my fingers in while they are still on the backs of the animal, fibers dyed in colors extracted from blooms in my garden, people whose spirits I want to wear wrapped tight around me.