Beth Smith

In which fiber stuff is compared to life.

So I’m starting this post with my favorite zoo animal. We went to the Detroit Zoo on Friday. We like to go a couple of times every year. Now, when I was standing at the wall looking at this beautiful animal I saw clumps of bison fiber all over the ground. Do you think if I contacted the zoo and promised to make a donation they would collect the fiber for me?

If not, it’s ok. I got a shipment of Buffalo Gold fiber on Thursday. It’s lovely stuff that I tried out on Saturday at spinner’s flock. It’s very short and you have to spin it like cashmere but it is soooooooo soft.

Detroit has a kangaroo exhibit that you can walk through. No fences. These are the boys.

The wild animals that live at my house posing here in front of the seals’ home.

Prairie dogs wouldn’t come close .

Here are three of them. Chelsea was in Colorado for a couple of days.

This is the view in the back seat of the car on the way home. The zoo really takes it out of you. Lou likes to call it carpolepsy – you know, like narcolepsy, only in the car. Brittney has had it since birth. Maggie and Ryan don’t suffer from as serious a condition but are still affected. HEE.

After we got home from the zoo I went out to get a manicure and get some groceries. Ryan decided to give himself a manicure too.

Brittney will now be putting her nail polish up after she uses it. Although, I must say that he didn’t do a bad job.

And finally. I went to the Okemos lace knitting group last Monday. I took my Russian Support Spindles along for a quick lesson from Faina. It was a good lesson and I took the dyed mohair locks I bought last summer in Pennsylvania.

If you compare the little bit of yarn in the first picture with the cop here, you can see that I am improving.

I started out with a wooden bowl that I got with these spindles from Galina. I switched to this little pottery dipping bowl from a kitchen store. The wood of the spindle spins a lot better in the glazed surface.

So here’s the lesson that I’ve learned from Faina and from my practice. The fibers need to be well prepared. Even if you comb them in advance, when you go to use them you should pull them through the comb again. Good prep is key to fine spinning. ( I knew that from the wheel and other spindles but it’s always good to hear it again.)

For longer fibers it’s best to spin from the fold. You also can’t hold the fibers too tight. As soon as you tighten your grip you get a thicker yarn. You have to trust your light touch and your preparation.

If you feel like you need a couple more fibers or a few less fibers a light roll of the thumb or a tiny change in your hand angle makes a great difference and will change the course of the thread back to where you want it.
I’ve been feeling a little philosophical lately and here is my comparison of spindle spinning to life.
Raising kids, like spinning, takes some finesse. Preparation is key. Preparation of yourself by having a sense of humor, understanding the differences between things of eternal significance and the stuff that really doesn’t matter, finding things that help you relax when things seem to be getting too much.
Good preparation of your kids is also key. By that I mean preparation for life. You teach them values. You teach them how to be kind. You teach them about all of the things which are important for them to be happy and healthy in this life and also all of the things of eternal significance – see above.
In spinning a light touch is necessary. You get a better and faster spin of the spindle if you are just touching the very tip and not grabbing way down on the shaft.
You also don’t want to be squeezing the life out of the fibers because they never behave the way you’d like.
If you do find yourself squeezing too tightly and you get an unruly area you can always stop and go back. Remove some of the twist and stretch the fibers past each other. If you do it right, you can’t even see the spot where the mistake happened.

In raising kids a light touch is also necessary. When they are young you want to take time with them so that they understand that the rules are only there for their safety. You want to stay calm when the milk spills but be prepared to be a little rough if they are headed for the road into oncoming traffic.

When they are older you need an even lighter touch. They are breaking away. My instinct is always to tighten my grip but then the unruliness sets in. It’s difficult to do. When too many fibers seem to be sliding past my fingers I instinctively grasp them more tightly.
When my older children seem to be out of my control, my instinct is to try to control them more and things always get worse. But – and here’s the happy part – you can always stop and back up. Do a little back twisting and soon the little glitch is gone and not remembered.
The life of a mother of adult children can be very scary. They are beyond your control. Sometimes they haven’t gotten to the point of seeking your counsel. You can just sit back and watch and feel helpless until they find their own way. There is always the hope that they’ll need you again and trust that your guidance is again for their own safety, just like when they were little. And, looking back on my life, I can see the transition in myself from little miss independence to asking again for my mother’s guidance and truly knowing that she could help.
I look forward to this with my own girls.
My dad recently told me that it will get easier when they are 35. 14 years to go.
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