Sometimes we encounter some truly unsatisfactory yarn or fibre. It might not be a major offense like scritchiness or too many knots, but it might be some inherent character flaw, and we find ourselves wanting to ‘break up’ with it. Many of us persevere to the end of a project and then vow never to use that particular yarn or fibre again, or some of us might at some point during the project toss it down and say something like, ‘Ugh, this stuff is awful!’ and dump it back into a project bag or even into the garbage, never to be seen or heard from again.
What if somewhere along the line, we’ve been mistaken? Don’t get me wrong, truly awful yarn and fibre exists in abundance, and there’s way more mediocre, sub-par quality stuff out there than there should be, but what if, in one of these fits of frustration, we’ve misjudged the character flaws of that yarn or that fibre.
I have evidence of this in my attic closet.
Several years ago I bought a bunch of Tencel (lyocell) spinning fibre, and dyed it. The resulting batches were pretty, glossy heaps of roving that looked like they could effortlessly turn into pretty, glossy skeins of yarn. Having never worked with Tencel before, I sat down to spin some of it.
‘Ugh! This is awful! I can’t spin this, it’s all stuck together and hurts my hands to try to pull it apart.’
I probably said something like that. But what I did next, was, I bagged it all up, and it went waaaay to the back of my attic closet, never to be seen or heard from again…
Until Spinzilla 2014.
As I began thinking of personal goals for the spinning competition, the thought of that Tencel in my attic was nagging in the back of my mind. I didn’t like that I had bags and bags of this fibre just sitting in my closet unused. I had spent a fair bit on it, and I strongly dislike wasting anything. I decided to make spinning some of it one of my goals.
For a whole morning and through about half of an afternoon about two days into Spinzilla, I fought this stuff mercilessly. I yanked and struggled, and tried diligently to make it work. Then at some point something clicked in my mind. What if maybe there was nothing at all wrong with this fibre, but I was simply handling it wrong? Going against my instincts, I ripped off a smallish chunk of fibre, and stripped off a smaller, pencil thick piece of fibre. I tried that…
Cue the Hallelujah Chorus! Eureka, I’ve found it! It spun smoothly, effortlessly and without a hitch. Suddenly this mound of deeply resented fibre became loved and appreciated once again. Much sooner than anticipated, I finished enough of it to create two plump skeins of absolutely gorgeous yarn! Tahdahh!
In the time since this discovery, I have encountered other fibre and other yarns that have since been acquitted of their perceived offenses. Just like they say there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes for it, I like to think, maybe its not bad yarn, but its just the right yarn in the wrong job, or the right fibre with the wrong technique.
I think we’ve all misjudged yarn or fibre at one point in our lives. I can recall trying to make a sock out of 100% cotton. Yech! I couldn’t get it over my heel. But we learn from these experiences, and that has made us better at our craft, and perhaps even has made us better people in the process.