I went to a spinning event yesterday, an event that happens in Newport each year. Spinners from all across the state descend on the little school either the first or last weekend of school vacation. This year it was the first weekend, which makes a difference. There was still heat in the building from the last day of classes on Friday. The bathroom was warm. There was no flooding of toilets, sink, or pipes.
This is also, here in Maine, the first weekend of the High School Basketball Tourney. Spinners with high school affiliations need to make a choice. Me? I will always choose spinning over basketball. It is also the weekend before the NETA Spa (sometimes the weekend after, but not this year). This means that the vendors who came to Newport were well stocked.
I rode down with a friend and, despite having made an unplanned stop at Hannaford, we arrived just one minute after the event was scheduled to start. We found our friends and started to make our little spinning circle. It turned out that friends had brought friends and we were a large circle – I think 10 of us in all.
Being in a room with a hundred or more spinners is extraordinary. I’m sure I’m not giving away any secrets. Within minutes I had seen a different way of starting a leader, using conjoined loops rather than trying to catch the new roving into the leader as I normally do. I’m tucking that away for sure. Feet were pumping up and down, the hum of voices was so quiet that you didn’t notice them until someone called for quiet so announcements could be made. Then came the door prizes and cheers as members of different circles won. Next came the Swap, different this year since there was a requirement that it be spinning fiber; there were no books, no cheesy bags of unwanted acrylic yarn, and nothing the giver would spin themselves. For the first year in ten, I had brought nothing to trade. That, alone, changed my outlook. Then, at 2:30, came the “last call for vendors.” There was a flurry of last minute purchases. I thought about more of Pogo’s roving, but remembered that I still had a broad selection of her offerings in two ounce bundles, waiting to become my “Sunrise, Sunset Sweater.”
I reconnected with a cherished friend I hadn’t seen for two years. It was wonderful wandering around the vendors, feeling the wool and catching up. We encourage each other to try new things and take risks. She bought some wonderfully golden mohair. Spun it was like walking through an oak forest. I bought this (left) from a new vendor who is part of a community fiber cooperative. Very light and airy. A pound was huge. Here is my plan. I’m going to separate the colors (right). Spin them thin and Navajo-ply. My goal is to get a giant gradient lace spun yarn that I will then knit into a Sunshine Shawl. To get the proper effect I’ll need to bind off the edging rather than use an applied edging as my bind off strategy. But that will be OK. What I have in mind will be reminiscent of a giant yellow mandala I painted on the infirmary wall at the University of Rhode Island.
Here is where the ambiance really comes in. Everyone was branching out, relaxing into the process of spinning. One spinner, who normally spins natural fiber from her own sheep, added the bling of Firestar to a sample. Another (my riding friend) spun a color that reminded me of the sun drenched Caribbean. The spinner to my right had bought what looked like rusty roving, but spun it took on the character of the heart of a volcano. Behind me a lady had brought an electric spinner and did a constant business with people stopping by to ask questions and take a gander at something not many of us had seen.
There were people I never talk to, but am always happy to see. I recognized some by their sweaters – one a beautiful cable montage of blue panels joined by dark blue single cables, socks – Fair Isle shown off under skirts and Birkenstocks, and shawl – from the simple Tasha Tudor to the complex lace that I tend to knit. The lady with the tulip painted wheel was there, as were a pair that spun on dark, castle style wheels.
In the middle of winter I was in the midst of heat and friendship. It was a sunshiny drive there and back home. The snowstorm just barely starting as I drove into my dooryard.