Although this time of year is extremely busy for us, as we harvest and preserve our garden bounty, I’ve found enough little dabs of time to spin up some yarn and begin a scarf. I’m still captivated by the process.
But I need to find a human instructor; the Internet is a great source of information and guidance, but when it comes to the fine points of drafting fleece, for example, I need hands-on help. Though I can create passable yarn, I still manage to turn the fleece slowly back on itself as I spin, and I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong.
I also learned a lot about the different breeds of sheep by reading articles on the Internet … but visiting a local spinner/knitter/dyer who uses the fleece from her own sheep made a huge difference in my understanding of the process. Running my fingers through a chocolate brown tangled coat provided more information (way more) about what it takes to transform that warm mess into spinnable fiber than I could ever get from the many helpful Internet sites available.
I’ve learned several important things on “the farm” up here: Doing something yourself isn’t just educational—it’s exciting, awe-inspiring and life-changing. Finding your morning egg still warm and snuggled in a freshly made nest, for example, is an experience so far removed from picking up a dozen factory-produced eggs in a plastic box that it seems to come from an entirely different world. It certainly comes from an entirely different worldview. Homemade sauerkraut seems almost to be made from an entirely different vegetable than the store-bought variety. (It’s simple to do and delicious to eat—try it!) For that matter, any food taken directly from the Earth and eaten within hours will open and entirely different—and fabulous—world of taste.
Here’s another one of my little “ah-ha” discoveries: the human appears to be well designed to give and receive help. Not only do other folks know more than I do about a lot of things, there’s something deeper going on when people get together and help each other out. Reading is fabulous, and I would never even suggest giving that up as a resource as well as recreation. The Internet is another excellent source of information. But you just can’t beat sitting down with an old friend (or a new one) and learning the fine points of spinning—or farming, or teaching, or anything at all—with them.
And one’s own store of learning and experience is a gift meant to be shared. Each of us has something she knows a little more about than someone else does. And when that someone else wants to learn, it feels really terrific to be able to pass along the little wisdoms we’ve acquired. In the midst of this human weaving of knowledge and learning, wonderful things happen. Friends are made, new ideas appear, fresh discoveries are made.
And that’s when the real magic begins.