Baa Baa Black Sheep…Can I Spin Your Wool?

Yes, I actually spun the wool on this spindle. Swear.

I learned to spin today. I’d been waiting for this for years.

More specifically, I learned the first part of spinning wool. Apparently there’s a few more steps and the next one involves “plying”. Plying basically goes like this: after you stress out and finagle everything into spinning a couple of bobbins, you let a couple of yarns twist together (or a single back onto itself to add the plies), effectively cutting your progress in half. Go figure.

Anyway, I’m trying hard not to think that far ahead. My teachers run a small business called All About Ewe and are some of the nicest ladies I’ve met since we moved up here. They kindly cheered me on saying that my spinning looked great (no doubt “for a beginner”, but ya’ll know I’m easy and I’ll catch any bone tossed my way).

I think I did okay.

I had my first spinning lesson inside a charming barn filled with all things warm, colorful, and handmade. This place where the sheep ladies teach doubles as a handcraft boutique that I didn’t get nearly enough time to peruse.

There couldn’t have been a better classroom.

Like every fiber craft I’ve ever learned, I knew I would enjoy it. I felt comfortable right away while drawing the wool from the roving and letting the wheel twist the fiber onto the bobbin. I’m learning on a smoky-brown wool called Rambouillet (pronounced ram-boo-lay) and while I don’t know much about the sheep breed itself, rambouillet is about as romantic and exotic sounding as it gets — so there’s that.

You’ll recognize this sheep breed from the back of your expensive wool sweaters — Merino.

When my lesson was over, I got to meet the sheep behind the wool, so to speak. I say “so to speak” because these sheep weren’t actually those behind the wool that I was spinning — but they very well could have been. The fiber I was using came from a sheep named Victor who is now grazing on that big pasture in the sky. Although, I’ll never meet him I silently thanked him for donating his lovely wool so that this first-timer could learn this ancient and classic art.

I tried to sneak this one into the back of the car…

I did get the chance to chat with a black sheep that had some seriously big doll eyes framed in long lashes that let me ruffle his wooly head — like a story book come to life. I kid you not. There was also a curious Llama who came right up to me and wasn’t unfriendly, but would rather you kept your hands to yourself thank-you-very-much…I felt I should respect that.

I got the feeling that she ran the place.

As I drove away with both spinning wheel and fluffy roving, I thought about the fact that after completing the basic spinning steps and the necessary hours of practice, I’ll be able to create something warm and wonderful for my efforts.

Then that it dawned on me that I don’t know how to knit.