Have you experienced that feeling when you’ve known something for so long (basically, forever) that you’re scarcely even consciously aware of it any more?
There is a reason why I’m asking. Having finally given in to the temptation to learn to spin, and having instantly found it absorbing and addictive, my mum (Mother Twisted) had to remind me of something that I’ve known in the very back of my mind forever: I come from a long line of professional weavers, so there’s a certain amount of fibre sloshing around in my blood. (NB: That’s a different line of my family from the one that occupied the family seat for 300 years. So yeah, alcohol and textiles are in my blood, which explains a lot.) My great, great, grandmother was a month too old to be affected when laws were introduced in 1880 mandating children to attend school at least until the age of ten. She was gutted, because she would have loved to have gone to school. Instead, she had to stay home and help work the family weaving loom, like her mother before her. Here she is:-
Here’s my very first attempt in progress:-
I know, I know, there’s plenty of room for improvement. And one day I will no doubt look at this picture and wince. Maybe I’ll even sneak back here when you’re not looking and delete it. But for now, it’s all I’ve got.
I’d been successfully resisting the temptation to learn to spin. But last Sunday, my resolve crumbled into an ugly pile of dust on the floor, and I bought a drop spindle and some tops. It was all my friend J’s fault. You see, it was her birthday, and in order to celebrate, she, her husband N, and I, visited the premises of Toft in Warwickshire. Not heard of Toft? You’re missing something marvellous! (Were you not paying attention when I reviewed one of their books, here? Tsk, tsk!) Toft is an indie producer and supplier of alpaca yarn and startlingly wonderful animal crochet patterns.
They do publish some terribly sensible hat patterns and scarf patterns, and that’s great…
…but let’s face it, really we’re all here for the eight-foot-tall giraffes.
And all the other critters:-
J fell hopelessly in love with a gecko. I’m sure you can empathise. We’ve all been there, have we not? Unrequited gecko-love is the worst. Here is the fibrous stealer of hearts:-
And again, with my friend J:-
It’s fair to say that our visit was not especially brief. In addition to the yarn, it involved cake, as well as green tea (me), and coffee (J and N):-
No matter how many times we wandered around this small space, there was always something new to notice.
When you’re surrounded by novelty crocheted cats and elephants and sea slugs, it’s oh-too-easy to fail to notice a giant flamingo:-
Some money was spent. More money, in fact, than the cautious among you might consider to be prudent. And that’s how I came to be the proud owner of a drop spindle and some merino tops.
And then we went outside, to see the alpacas that had given up their yarn for us, and to thank them personally.
Gotta love these fluffsome bundles of eccentrity.
This one was clearly working on the imagery for the cover of that tricky second album:-
Aren’t they adorable?
Thank you for your fluff, alpacas.
And back home, I unpacked my drop spindle and my woollen tops, and I began to spin. And strangely, it felt almost familiar, though I’d never done it before. The twinnage watched. One of them asked me to knit them a snake, specifically a diamond-backed rattlesnake. And who am I to refuse? Best get on with the spinning, then…
I wonder how long it took to make that giraffe? What a magical place…. have fun spinning 🙂
Now I’m even more gutted that I couldn’t join you, J & N on your Toft adventure – it looks amazing!!
Ann Shepherd says
I think the secret to spinning when you are a beginner is to tell anyone who asks that it’s art yarn and it’s meant to look like that.
Dramatic Lyric says
Yay you’re spinning! It looks amazing!! I’m so excited for you.
And Ann Shepherd is right – just say the slubs and bumps are intentional 😉
Joanne Hortensius says
Love that giraffe!!
The alpaca yarn and the Edward’s Menagerie book was my downfall on the way home from holiday last year. Beautiful yarn. The lunch in the cafe was pretty good too!! The girls who were on internship from uni courses were so interesting to talk too and the alpaca were really really cute….good job the car was full of holiday packing!
I threw all caution to the wind and started with straight fleece locks (not washed) with my spinning adventure and my end results are perfect for some windswept fisherman’s jumper, never to grace the covers of a yarn magazine and perfect for wiping fishy hands on. I am still spinning thick/thin with nubs in it but as I love that kind of look, I don’t mind. Your’s looks very even and completely yarn like Ms T. It would appear that if you want to be able to knit something that isn’t lumpy and bumpy, you need to start with tops. I will remember this for the future me but for the moment I have a LOT of fleece that I bought in a mad panic because the lady was divesting her stash, of all kinds of critters waiting for me in bags and boxes in my craft room that absolutely positively has to be spun before I even contemplate tops. Excellent start Ms T and can’t wait to see where you go with it 🙂
I tried spinning and gave up. not because I hated it but I’d rather be knitting. Anyway – I wasn’t very good at it. You will be much better even though I come from weavers too. (Huguenots) Enjoyed the animals even though I did a double take on what I thought was a suspicious looking lifesized man until later I realised with relief that it is a flamingo. Phew!
My main comment however, is that I love that top you are wearing.
I too thought it was a man facing the wall who had neglected to put on any clothes!
Alison Garnett says
That’s a very impressive first effort. I bought a drop spindle, then I bought a wheel, then someone gave me another wheel, and now my fleece stash is as big as my yarn stash. And of course reducing my fleece stash increases my yarn stash. It’s a very enjoyable slippery slope!
Oh yes, they are adorable. Good luck with your spinning, you are doing very well xx
Ann P Wilson says
Once more you have captivated me – thoroughly! I worked for a very short while on an alpaca ranch in California and was amazed at how easy it was to love them – never did acquire any fibre…. just as well as I can barely keep up with the stash I have! I look forward to seeing your progress.
The Knitwit says
Thanks for sharing. The animals are cute!
I foresee giant animals coming from the twisted household in 2018. I love the way your friend holds the gecko, as if it’s real! Oh it was real? That explains it.
Okay, so weaving next? 🙂
Rainbow Junkie says
Looks like a happy bunch of alpacas!
Winwick Mum says
How long before the “look at these alpacas living in my back garden” post then? 😉 xx
The Twisted Yarn says
Ohhhh… about a week or so?
Ohhh!!! Alpacas! *sigh*
The Little Room of Rachell says
I wondered if it was that J and it is, what a lovely picture of her. She is holding that gecko very tenderly. Sounds like a lovely trip.
The Twisted Yarn says
It was a lovely trip. And yes to it being a fab pic of J!