It is no secret how much I love to spin and one of the things that I love most about the art and craft of spinning is how there is always more to learn. Nowadays, we are lucky to be able to learn from many different sources (magazines, videos, and blogs, just to name a few) and one of my favorites is Ply Magazine. I enjoy the projects, the articles help to stretch and challenge my spinning abilities, and I am always picking up new tips and tricks from the magazines, one of which is how to spin across the top.
In the Autumn “Color” issue, Jacey Boggs wrote a wonderful piece titled “Spinning Across the Top: Beyond Stripping” and she explains that this is an excellent way to preserve medium to long color graduations in handpainted fiber. It is also that special technique needed for spinning a perfect yarn that gently fades from one color to the next from gradient dyed fibers. This intrigued me. Previously when I had purchased gradients, I had always stripped them out and spun them tip to tail (and then tail to tip) and while beautiful, wasn’t really exactly what I wanted as an end result. This technique of spinning across the top was what I needed to learn to get that perfect gradient yarn! So I set to working on it .
My hands seemed brimming with fiber but I could manage (albeit rather clumsily) to work my way across the top from left to right. Getting back again from right to left, though, was a chore. I would pick away at it randomly, experimenting with it for a few minutes here and there, trying to chase the draft, and I was slowly but surely getting a bit more comfortable with it … until this weekend when I NAILED it!
I was doing a spinning demonstration at the Kaleidoscope Festival and all the chatting with people helped me to forget about what my hands were doing and to relax enough to make it work. Isn’t it funny how things can just sort of fall into place sometimes, with very little effort? I think that the two things that helped me most were:
- Being distracted (of all things!) – I have a tendency to over-think which can make learning new techniques difficult ,so, by chatting with passerbys, it helped get me out of that headspace and let my hands take over.
- Relaxing my hands – When you grip fiber, it is going NOWHERE (at least not without much difficulty). I found that even though I thought I wasn’t holding on tightly, I was still holding on tighter than I needed to. I barely had to cup the fiber in my hand to make spinning across the top work.
So far, I have practiced on Shetland, Corriedale, and BFL wools and it has worked like a charm. Now I need to get my dye pot going and get started experimenting with gradients!
Do you have techniques that you struggled with and then they just kind of clicked into place? I’d love to hear about what helped you!