Sunday, September 6, 2009


What's in a name? Centuries ago people often acquired surnames associated with their occupation. Baker, Cooper, Miller. These names identified the work that the person did, their livelihood.

I don't recall, nor have I done enough research to know if there was a name for a person who makes yarn. Spinner? Spindler? Perhaps it was because women did the spinning, the yarnmaking and women did not get their own surnames? I read somewhere in the history of knitting that men did the knitting and women did the spinning. Yet I don't recall a surname for knitter either. There are a few names associated with the fiber world...such as Weaver. And for those who kept the sheep, the name Shepherd. There's Taylor (tailor?), Clothier...surely there are many more.

Tell me, do you know if there are any surnames associated with yarn making?

If I were to choose a surname now, I would lean toward something fiber related. The one that keeps coming round in my mind these days is Yarnmaker. When people ask what I do with my spare time, I say, "I make yarn. I am a yarnmaker." I say, "I am a knitter, I make things."

I like the idea that I am making things. That my hands and some simple tools are able to make tangible, real objects. The day job involves "selling solutions". There are wires and cables and interfaces and muxes and connections, but they are so abstracted by the time I get involved, the thing I sell is more about solving some business problem, helping to cut costs, increase productivity, or some other intangible. It's not like I can touch it, see it, put it to my nose and smell it. Which is why the idea of yarnmaking is so attractive. When I finish a skein of yarn and I can hold it in my hands, examine the twist, breathe in the sheepy goodness, I feel such satisfaction! There. It's real. And, sometimes, it's really pretty too.

Masham Turkish Delight Singles-1

This skein of fingering weight singles is spun from Southern Cross Fibres Club April 2009, Turkish Delight. The fiber is a British long wool breed called Masham. Long wool is an understatement. The staple on this fiber is amazing - 8" to 10", similar to a Wensleydale, making the drafting a real dream!

Masham Turkish Delight Singles-5

I took David's advice and aimed for a low twist single on this yarn. It practically spun itself. Those long fibers will easily keep the yarn in one piece despite the low twist. To make it a higher twist risks turning it into twine. This is fuzzy stuff! After the bath and a good whack, it set nicely. The gorgeous colors are David's brand of genius, and yes, it is a true Turkish Delight, all 434 yards of it.

Masham Turkish Delight Singles-6

Again, the yarn I make screams "weaving!" to me. Why is that? I am not a weaver yet. But the yarns I make seem to speak in weaving terms, and I am intrigued by the path that is being cut through this forest.

But for knitting, I might say, go with a 3 ply handspun yarn. Like this little lovely, spun up from Southern Cross Fibres, a Corriedale called Enchanted. Yes, it is enchanting!

Enchanted 3 ply-2

My first attempt at a 3 ply, these gorgeous colors, some of my favorites, blended so nicely with the greens and blues popping against the browns and blacks. My idea of heaven on earth. A 3 ply adds roundness and plumpiness to the yarn.

Enchanted 3 ply-4

My original intent was sock yarn. It might be a bit more on the worsted side to be sock yarn, and that's okay because I want to make something more visible - fingerless mitts? A hat?

Enchanted 3 ply-9

It doesn't matter right now. There's 236 yards to work with and I'll know it when I see it. Right now I enjoy looking at it and squeezing it. And I'm making more 3 ply. I can't help myself. And I can't wait to show you all the next yarns to come off the wheel, so stop by again real soon, okay?


barefootrooster said...

ohhh, lisa. you ARE a yarnmaker. these skeins are drop-dead gorgeous. lovely, lovely, spinning. i can't decide which one i like more!!

Katie M. said...

That is some bea-yoo-tiful yarn! Yarnmaker, indeed. I think you've earned your name.

Luscious Gracious said...

I think this may be the most beautiful post I have ever read, anywhere, by anyone. You nailed it. Thank you.


Oiyi said...

Your handspuns are so yummy!