Hello, and many thanks to Anne for hosting me today! Yesterday at Jessica Davies' blog, I started a 2-part series on spinning, which is a central metaphor in my novella Homespun -- and a brand-new hobby of mine!
Before I get to the fun stuff, I wanted to mention that during my blog tour (which runs 'til Oct. 8) I'm giving away a handmade scarf, knit or crocheted by me specially for you, in a style and yarn color that you get to pick! (This would also be a great holiday gift for someone else!) More details here - you just need to comment on any of the posts in the Homespun blog tour to be entered.
Fiber crafts are something I enjoy as a hobby, and spinning is a central metaphor in Homespun -- the way that human lives wind together just like fibers being spun into yarn. At the time I wrote Homespun, all I knew about spinning was learned from books and the Internet. In the last few weeks, however, I've learned to spin on a drop spindle, and I'm going to talk about that today.
I talked a little yesterday about the history of spinning, which was one of the primary occupations of housewives the world over -- since all the yarn to create fabric for the family's clothes and blankets must be spun from fiber produced on the farm. Obviously I am not going to be spinning for all our clothing needs (ALTHOUGH I COULD, BY GOD). However, I am now the proud owner of a drop spindle, the exact same piece of technology that women, and some men, have been using for at least 10,000 years. And I know how to use it!
You see here the fruits of my first spinning lesson: a simple wooden drop spindle, and two different colors of wool. The purple wool came with the lesson. This is Corriedale wool, from Corriedale sheep. (Dyed, obviously. The sheep are not purple. Though it would be cool if they were.) The gray wool is from Jacob sheep, and as far as I know, that's its natural color -- a mix of white and black wool from spotted sheep. (If you click on the above link, I would like to point out that there are four horns on that sheep. Apparently they can have as many as six. That's just over-achieving if you ask me.)
I was not actually planning to sign up for spinning lessons. I went into a local yarn shop back in August because I was curious and wanted to look at their selection. The shop, called a Weaver's Yarn, turned out to have a wide selection of wool and spinning tools, and I got to talking with the lady who owned it about spinning, and ... er, before I knew it, I'd tripped and signed up for spinning lessons. IT HAPPENS, OKAY.
Here is me using the spindle:
The way a drop spindle works is complicated -- okay, downright nonsensical -- to try to visualize from a verbal description, but relatively simple when you see it in action. It is much easier to watch a video, and there are many on Youtube. Here is one (If you want to skip ahead to about 3:43-3:50, you can see a closeup shot of the real magic: the fiber twisting itself into yarn.)
Here is a site that has detailed written descriptions of spinning, plus convenient videos for each step: http://joyofhandspinning.com/spinning-yarn-with-a-drop-spindle/
You can also check out
this somewhat unusual take on the hobby of spinning: Spinning yarn in Antarctica!
My own process of learning to spin went something like this:
- Okay, this doesn't look too hard.
- AUGH, I AM ALL THUMBS.
- ACK, FIBER EVERYWHERE, I AM FAIL, WHAT WHAT.
- ... wait, what, magic just happened. THERE IS MAGIC HAPPENING IN MY LAP.
I don't know if it's like this for everyone, but I'm not terribly coordinated, and I started out feeling like the world's clumsiest person. You have to do something different with each hand, and do it smoothly and quickly. I was dropping my spindle, breaking my yarn, and generally feeling like an uncoordinated idiot.
But then magic happened. Seriously. MAGIC. Once you get the hang of it, and can get the spindle to spin smoothly like a top while you gentle release and grip the fiber, you will watch a handful of puffy, completely unyarnlike wool begin to automatically twist ITSELF into yarn. You let go of each little handful of roving -- that's the unspun wool; the process of separating it out gently with your hand is called drafting -- and it will instantly go BING! and twist itself into yarn. (Okay, without the BING! sound effect. But it totally deserves a sound effect.)
Owen Fortescue in Homespun is a stress spinner. When he's upset or frustrated, he retreats to his spinning wheel and loses himself in the activity. Now that I've done it myself, I can definitely see the appeal!
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: Novella/104 pages
Release Date: Sept. 18, 2013
For twenty years, Owen Fortescue, a down-to-earth farmer in upstate New York, has had an on-again, off-again relationship with volatile New York City artist Kerry Ruehling. Now that same-sex marriage is recognized in New York, Owen wants to tie the knot. But Kerry responds to the proposal with instant, angry withdrawal. Owen resolves to prove to Kerry that, regardless of the way his family of origin has treated him, family ties don’t necessarily tie a man down. With help from his grown daughter, Laura, who loves them both, Owen hopes to convince Kerry that his marriage proposal isn’t a trap, but a chance at real love.
Layla M. Wier is the romance pen name of artist and writer Layla Lawlor. She was born in a log cabin in rural Alaska and grew up thirty miles from towns, roads, electricity, and cars. These days, she lives in Fox, a gold-rush mining town on the highway north of Fairbanks, Alaska, with her husband, dogs, and the occasional farm animal. Their house is a log cabin in a birch and aspen forest. Wolves, moose, and foxes wander through the front yard. During the short, bright Arctic summer, Layla enjoys gardening and hiking, and in the winter, she writes, paints, and draws.
Where to find Layla:
Stops and topics on the Homespun blog tour (Sept. 16-Oct. 8):
Monday, Sept. 16: Zahra Owens - autumn
Tuesday, Sept. 17: Tali Spencer - sharing passions
Wednesday, Sept. 18: RELEASE DAY! Party at the Dreamspinner Press blog!
Thursday, Sept. 19: Charley Descoteaux Charley Descoteaux - location scouting in central New York
Friday, Sept. 20: Chris T. Kat - interview
Monday, Sept. 23: Charlie Cochet's Purple Rose Tea House - doing research
Tuesday, Sept. 24: Helen Pattyskyn - bisexuality in Homespun
Wednesday, Sept. 25: Garrett Leigh - interview
Thursday, Sept. 26: Skylar Catse - rural life
Friday, Sept. 27: Madison Parker - interview + review
Monday, Sept. 30: Jessica Davies - learning to spin, part 1
Tuesday, Oct. 1: Anne Barwell - learning to spin, part 2
Thursday, Oct. 3: Michael Rupured - writing respectfully from outside a subculture
Friday, Oct. 4: Jana Denardo - invading characters' privacy
Monday, Oct. 7: SL Huang - interview
Tuesday, Oct. 8: PD Singer - central NY photo tour