Paper and Wool

Normal difficulties arise with editing, and with those difficulties, doubts.  Is this really a story worth telling?  Would anyone read it?  Does that matter?

I find solace in my poetry.  Coming back and reading it after having put it away for a while is comforting.

Unlike writing a complex story, poetry, at least short poems, give more immediate gratification   I can read them and feel a sense of accomplishment: I've done this before.  I've completed a satisfying work of written art.  Don't let the doubt creep in.

Aside from poetry, pretty things sustain me.  The comforts of home.  Domesticity takes so much of a backseat in the writing lifestyle, at least in my lifestyle.  Home-spun wool.  A magazine leafed with whimsical curiosity.  The black paper-cut silhouette of my son on the mantle.  It may seem strange, but these are the things that motivate me to clean out the pantry, to wash the dishes, and shake out the rugs.

And maybe a clean house will feel like a clear head, and aid the writing process as well.

Spinning is like writing.  A lot of things are like writing, I think, and even more things are like spinning.  But this connection is especially poignant.  You've got this stuff, this potential--clean, washed, and shining.  But you have to work it.  Twist it.  It doesn't come out ready.  I mean, is it beautiful by itself, without being worked?  Yes.  But when you transform it into yarn, that is when it becomes something useful, something essential.



  1. "pretty things sustain me"--I know just what you mean. That is why I have sheer golden curtains and houseplants and lots of full bookshelves, and it's part of why I have my old spinning wheel.

    " have to work it. Twist it." Yes, and the twist has to be just right: not so tight that the yarn folds in on itself, nor so loose that the fibers pull apart, but firm and even. It takes a great deal of practice to learn to make firm, evenly twisted yarn. And you have to choose your materials thoughtfully--pick a well-grown, well-cut fleece, wash it and card it; hunt up quality flax or silk or other rare fibers; perhaps dye the wool or add brightly colored silk noils. So much thought goes into making a good skein of yarn. And the final product is so, so different from the machine-made synthetic off the rack at Michael's.

    It's a very good analogy, really. And your white wool yarn on that spindle is so pretty.

    P.S. I love the John William Waterhouse you're using as a cover on FB... that is him, right? He's one of my all-time favorites. :)

    1. Oh, houseplants! How I long for thee! I've never cultivated a green thumb, and I'm too sporadic with my comings and goings to tend to them properly. Though I suppose I could get one of those automatic waterers. I do occasionally purchase a bouquet of flowers.

      I know just what you mean about the spinning wheel. I wonder if modern culture forgot how to make things pretty AND useful.

      Oh, thank you! My friend Caitlin GAVE me her old spindle and the wool roving. She said pencil roving is the easiest, though. I wasn't expecting to take to spinning so quickly.

      I know what you mean about the thought going into the yarn. There's a . . . for lack of a better phrase . . . life force, invisible, that goes into making it, that is not the same in factory-made products.

      I _think_ that is a Waterhouse painting. One of the Pre-Raphaelites, at least. It's the Maid of Astolat. Her story is so sad.

  2. Beautiful analogies and photos! The other thing I'm learning to love about spinning, writing, and life in general is to slow down. To focus on one thing at a time (although, as the mother of a toddler, I imagine that is difficult for you!). When I get frustrated at not accomplishing as much as I would like to, I try to remind myself that things take as much time as they need.

    I am also learning that I need clear space, both physically and mentally. To me that also means to let myself have the space and time to dream, and not be "producing" all the time.

    Your yarn looks lovely!

    1. Thank you, Caitlin!

      I think I know what you mean. I'm terrible at either doing nothing or wanting to get everything done in one unrealistic swoop. Pacing is key. Learning satisfaction is a reward in itself.

      You're very much a "producer." And thank you for the reminder: its not what we do, what we accomplish that gives us value; that is intrinsic. And we need to allow ourselves to bask in that from time to time.

      When I finish spinning the roving, what comes next? Should I ply the yarn?

    2. I would ply at least some of it; it's good practice and makes the yarn stronger and more balanced. Start with two ply to keep things easier. Remember when you ply to twist the spindle counter-clockwise; as you've spun both single-plys clockwise, they need to be spun the opposite way to make them twist together and remove excess "energy" that might have been spun into them. Also plying does not take as much twist/effort/time on the spindle while spinning as the single plys do, so you'll want to keep an eye on the two ply and wind on more quickly. It's not terrible but it is possible to overspin in the opposite direction and end up with an energized two-ply.

      After you have your two-ply, email and I'll tell you how to wind it and set the yarn! :)

      This is a great website with some videos and resources: They also have an email called Spinning Daily that you can sign up for.

      Hope that's not too much information at once! Feel free to call/text/email with any questions.

  3. Also, here is a lovely home and craft blog that I think you will enjoy:

  4. I KNOW!! What are the odds of getting one on your little cherub? ;)

    1. Almost 100%!

      The odds of keeping one on him, though . . . that's tricky! It'd help if we make a big deal out of it, so he thinks he's stylin'. c;

  5. Wow..wonderful! Poetry and pretty things..exactly! They are so sustaining and so balancing. Spinning fascinates me. Your yarn is lovely! How long have you been doing it?

    "Domesticity takes such a backseat writing lifestyle"..Maybe that's why you manage to accomplish so much! I try that, and my poems become lists of the things on my table and the dust on my floor. ;) So I get very little done, but at least it's a pretty very little, right?

    So lovely!

    1. M., there is a direct relation to how much housework I get done and how much writing work I get done!

      This week, alas, I have done none of either!

      I've been spinning for about three weeks now. I'm surprised at how fast I took to it. It's quite easy. Or maybe there's something inherited from my ancestresses. It wouldn't surprise me!


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