For the first post here at Kindred Yarn I want to introduce you to the story of how I became a handspun knitter. Let’s get started.
So, how did I begin knitting with natural, handspun fibers?
It was a 4-H project gone awry. Okay, not totally awry. It’s more like it has simply become far more involved than I intended. Though I started this endeavor 12 years ago, it hasn’t stopped despite the fact that I’m now entirely unqualified I am to be a 4-Her. For me, learning to knit went hand in hand with raising animals. I was unfamiliar with the craft store experience, at least when it came to knitting. I didn’t walk along rows of acrylic yarns looking at the endless combinations of colors and styles to pick out my first project.I was lucky enough to start someplace entirely different.
The Goat that Started It All
Instead, my knitting started with Winnie – the first Angora fiber goat that started my 4-H project. She produced a medium fine white mohair. She was by no means a stellar “show goat” with perfectly formed ringlets, but she was my soulmate goat (if such a thing exists). She was stubborn but as loyal to me as any pet dog. She was, in short, awesome.
Being lucky enough to have an avid knitter and spinner for a mom, I got to work first hand with Winnie’s fiber. Once sheared and washed, we dyed the fiber. Using Kool-Aid as our dye (yes, that’s possible) and my sixth grade sensibilities, I turned her fleece into neon pink and electric blue locks. Let’s just say my fashion sense had yet to be developed.
Then I carded it – by hand, mind you – with two carding paddles. Lazy summer afternoons in front of the TV or by the pens at county fairs were punctuated by the simple task. The carded fluff was then passed on to my mom. She would spin it tuft by tuft (definitely not an ideal process for a spinner) but she was patient. She was helping me to create a project right from the goat’s back.
Finally, the finished skeins were turned into a simple cowl – my first lace pattern. I completed it my senior year of high school. Let me be clear here. My terrible turnaround time on this project had more to do with the strife of being a teen than it did with the particular challenges of handspun yarn. It knits up just about as fast as anything else.
Since then, this cowl has been a constant winter staple. Over the years, it’s faded to a lovely lavender shade – much more wearable than my initial design decision. Tiny curls from the original fleece have begun to pull themselves out of the ply to create what my mom likes to call a lovely “halo”. Long past Winnie’s lifetime, I cherish wearing her with me still.
Handspun Yarn Rocks
Working with handspun is a treasure. It’s the chance to connect with the process of animal husbandry that makes fiber arts possible. It’s the chance to connect with the person (or people) who provided you with the opportunity to knit. Most of all, it allows the project you create to be truly handmade – from start to finish!
That’s the spirit of Kindred Yarn Co. Taking the time to foster connection to fiber arts traditions – the ones that made our modern craft possible. So join me, whether you are an experienced knitter or a total newbie, to take our knitting game to a new (and meaningful) level.
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