The Heart in Your Hands

Imagine these mittens in solid gray hands, with wild colors for the tailspun cuffs. My nephew will look like he’s got beards growing out of his sleeves, and he’ll love it.

Imagine these mittens in solid gray hands, with wild colors for the tailspun cuffs. My nephew will look like he’s got beards growing out of his sleeves, and he’ll love it.

Handspun yarn possesses a magic even non-spinners notice. When I talk to knitters, crocheters, and even non-yarnies about spinning projects—especially if I’ve got samples—their eyes light up and they lean in. If I know the sheep’s name, they laugh at me but agree that it’s cool to know what critter donated fiber to my cause. And that’s just the yarn. Knitted gifts made from handspun evoke an almost reverent response.

For example, some of my early presents have become the stuff of family legend. When I first started spinning in 1996, I spun and dyed yarn for mittens. Everybody in the family got a pair as I practiced with singles, plied yarns, spinning in the grease, and so on. Then came the fun of dyeing, which again provided all sorts of learning experiences. (Knitting also covered up lots of spinning problems. The lumps or unevenness became “design elements.” Or at least that was my story.) While my skills were pretty pathetic at that stage, nobody seemed to mind. They loved the story of these mittens: the type of wool, how I chose certain colors and knitting patterns, and especially how I worked a lot of love into the process.

Even now, almost twenty years later, my brother and sister-in-law talk about their mittens. My brother, an avid bicyclist, says they were perfect for winter rides. I don’t know if he still uses them, but he still has them. His wife received a pair with stranded colorwork, with a lovely flower on the backs and lice patterning on the palms. They too have survived all these years, and she still talks about them.

Now that I’m a better spinner, it’s time for new handspun gifts, for them and their beautiful children. My sister-in-law would enjoy Teresa’s Texting Mittens, as she’s always on the phone. My brother might like a pair of warm wool socks while he’s riding around thgerish_headshot sme cold, and I relish the challenge of making a 3-ply fine enough for comfort—Green Lake Socks, I’m looking at you! Tailspun Mittens for my tween nephew (to match a hat I knitted him two years ago) and the cuddly Humpty Dumpty for my very young niece will pass on the tradition of handspun gifts to the next generation. Wouldn’t it be something if they still remembered these presents in twenty years?

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