Monday, June 05, 2006

There is that old saying: "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." When I was younger, I thought of this saying as a sort of metaphysical "The universe will move a teacher to your location as soon as you are really ready." I have come to believe somewhat the opposite as I have grown older: I believe that teachers are all around us, giving us information all the time. When the student is ready, they hear the information they need. Until the student is ready, the information doesn't stick.
It's a variant on that other phenomenon that once you hear about one xyz, you suddenly hear about xyz in all sorts of contexts. It really just means that you have become sensitized to xyz.
The relevance? Well, a short while back, June of Twosheep posted a lovely entry on the subject of keeping one's grist constant through the simple use of an index card. Place several wraps of a singles around an index card and fasten them down under tension. Then, as you are spinning, every so often lay a current bit of singles between the ones on the card and see/feel how it looks.
June credits Elaine Benfatto with telling her about it, and it is very possible that I was on a list to which Elaine posted this idea before; it sounds vaguely familiar. But when I (may have) heard this before, I wasn't ready for the information. It didn't stick. Now, it's a solution to a problem I know I have but hadn't addressed consciously. When I read June's discussion of the technique, I went Aha! Just what I need.
I used to spin one thing at a time. I had one wheel, I had no particular use for spindles (I had only two spindles, both the same size) (whoops sorry, I had a boat anchor too; I still have no use for that one). I spun one fiber til I was done and then moved on. Sometimes I stopped for a while and had trouble getting back to the grist I had been spinning, but all in all it worked fairly well.
Now I have multiple spindles at varying weights and I have (shhh!) several different projects going on the wheel. Keeping track of making even grist has become more important to me. This is the (current) perfect solution to my problem. And the proof of the pudding is that my grist on the latest two skeins of the same thing is 1. 1490 ypp and 2. 1450 ypp, which is really good for me and well within the tolerance level of my ability to measure either weight or length; i.e. my ability to do either with my current measuring tools has a fair amount of error built in. Best of all, the skeins feel like they go together, which has not always been the case on previous projects.

1 comment:

The Purloined Letter said...

Great idea. Patsy Zawistoski suggests the same thing in her video Spinning Wool: Basics and Beyond. She suggests doing a quick self-ply sample (pulling the yarn out of the bobbin and letting it twist on itself, then tying it off) and including that on the card as well. If you ply to try to match it, you'll get a balanced yarn. Pretty clever. Well, except for us newbies that still have to let the yarn do whatever it pleases because we have no control....