Tales of a Beginning Spinner: Spinning Life Lessons

Learning to spin was a whirlwind of new experiences, and after relocating far from home to take on a new job, I was feeling particularly open to new things. Spinning entered my life at a transition period where I was into both trying different things and thinking introspectively about the journey of life. Spinning lessons became spinning life lessons.

No doubt, there is no better place to learn to spin than Interweave. My coworkers are not only knowledgeable and dedicated to their crafts, but they are also eager to teach others. After five weeks of spinning lessons, I found that what I was learning could easily transfer into my daily life. Perhaps this list of spinning life lessons can serve as a nice reminder for you. (See the links at the end of this post to follow my journey week by week.)

1. There’s always room for progress.

My spinning coworkers applauded even my first handspun that I thought was horrible. Perhaps it’s because they are super encouraging and positive people, but I also think it has something to do with an understanding that every spinner has room for progress—especially in the beginning. At first, all yarn is good yarn. The goal, then, becomes making better yarn the next time. I am reminded to not be too hard on myself as I try something new.

My first ever piece of handspun yarn shows that I have lots of room for improvement.

My first ever piece of handspun yarn shows that I have lots of room for improvement.

2. Everyone starts somewhere.

When my teacher and coworker Elizabeth began my lessons, I made a joke that she must have been born attached to a spinning wheel because she seemed like such a natural. But, of course years of practice made Elizabeth seem like a natural. Maybe she even felt as awkward as I did when she started spinning fiber. In spinning and everything else, everyone has to start somewhere! I’ve learned not to compare myself with others, especially those with more experience.

3. It’s important to relax.

As someone who always strives for perfection, spinning was quite the wake-up call. Not only does it take a lot of work to make decent-looking yarn, but also, perfect handspun doesn’t exist! What is perfect to one person might not be perfect to another. What matters is that you enjoy your handspun, and that you enjoyed the process of making it. While spinning, I constantly had to remind myself to lighten up because I was gripping the fiber too hard and wasn’t able to draft. So in life, I want to remember to relax and lighten up, or else forward motion will be quite difficult!

This plied yarn will soon become a pot holder.

This plied yarn will soon become a pot holder.

4. Sometimes it’s nice to keep it simple.

The spinning wheel is a complex and intricate device that is fun to use, but learning to spin on a drop spindle felt like a breath of fresh air. It’s like writing with a pen on paper rather than typing in a word processor. Although it might be more time consuming, going back to the roots reminds us of the simplicity of what we’re doing, letting us appreciate humble beginnings. Find joy in the simple things!

5. Control what you can.

There are many things in life and in spinning that we can’t control, but we can do our best to see that the things we can control go well. Controlling the twist in spinning was one of the most important things I needed to keep in mind. If not focused on my fiber-pinching fingers, I’d have a mess of twist in my fiber source.

6. There will always be choices. Lots and lots of choices. But don’t be overwhelmed!

Spinning is full of options. Wheel or spindle? High-whorl or low-whorl spindle? Electric spinning wheel? Castle spinning wheel? What kind of fiber? What color fiber? I’m getting overwhelmed already—but the bottom line is that it all serves the same purpose: to create handspun yarn. I find it useful to think less about making the right decision and more about doing what feels right to me, trying new things, and enjoying the experience.

My spinning lessons have come to an end, but it is not the end of my spinning. Although I don’t think I’ll be investing in a wheel in the near future (I’m on a budget), I have acquired a spindle and plan on using it. To sum it up, my spinning teachers have taught me a lot about spinning, and spinning has taught me a lot about so much more!


View all of my spinning lessons!

Tales of a Beginning Spinner: Lesson One
Tales of a Beginning Spinner: Change Your Whorl, Change Your Yarn
Tales of a Beginning Spinner: Learning to Ply
Tales of a Beginning Spinner: Drop (Spindle) Like It’s Hot
Tales of a Beginning Spinner: Spinning like a Millennial with the Electric Spinning Wheel

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