Every now and then you find a person who has so much talent and skill that you probably should be jealous, but you can’t because you’re just so stinkin’ proud of them. I have a friend like that. A couple of years ago, we were at a fiber festival and she was test-driving spinning wheels, just to see if she might be interested in taking up spinning. At that point, she was already a pretty good knitter and was ready to try something new.

Well, she did take up spinning and in a very big way. Rather than buy a new, modern wheel, she began buying antique wheels and fixing them up to make them spin again. She became what we started to call a ‘wheel whisperer’ and used her talents to help others find and rescue antique wheels as well. It’s become more of a calling than a hobby, it seems to me.

She’s been spinning less time than I have but her skills surpass me. And her work is lovely – she’s not only learned this skill, she’s practiced it intensely and you can tell that in her work. With her permission, I’d like to share one of her latest projects and in so doing, tell you a bit about how wool gets from the sheep to the garment.

She started with Corriedale top that she purchased at an Illinois spinning shop. Corriedale is a breed of sheep. Top is wool that had been sheared from the sheep, washed, combed, and processed into a long roll that looks like this:

Corriedale Top from The Fold in Marengo, IL.
Photo (c) 2012 Veronica Svatos Deluca

Then she began to spin, using one of her antique wheels.

Winding singles off of an antique spinning wheel.
Photo (c) 2012 Veronica Svatos Deluca

She spun and she spun and she spun…lots of singles (which is one thickness of yarn; finished yarn has two or more singles plied together).

Lots of singles ready to be plied.
Photo (c) 2012 Veronica Svatos Deluca

Then she plied… which is spinning two singles together to make a balanced yarn. The yarn is then wound off into skeins, which are washed to set the twist and make the yarn ready to knit with.

Finished yarn made into skeins.
Photo (c) 2012 Veronica Svatos Deluca

Then the finished yarn is made into balls, ready to knit.

Yarn that is spun, plied and balled. Ready for knitting.
Photo (c) 2012 Veronica Svatos Deluca

Then she began to knit.

Partially knit shawl; you can see the pattern begin to appear.
Photo (c) 2012 Veronica Svatos Deluca

And finally, she was done. The finished shawl, washed and blocked to spread the lace. A true work of art.

Forest Canopy Shawl; complete.
Photo (c) 2012 Veronica Svatos Deluca

So, I think you can see why I consider her to be a true artist. My memory is fuzzy but I think she’s been spinning less than two years, and to turn out work as lovely as this is amazing. Watching her transform from ‘I think I might want to learn to spin’ to ‘I made this’ has been a great thing.  It also means I need to get moving so my skills can catch up.

Thanks, Vern for the inspiration, for letting me be part of watching you become a spinner, and most of all, for giving me the push I needed to keep building my own skills.

Credit also goes to Susan Lawrence, designer of the Forest Canopy Shawl pattern. This pattern is available on Ravelry in case you’d like to knit it yourself.


7 thoughts on “Transformations

  1. Peggy says:

    Awesome Vern! She’s truly an inspiration!

  2. eileen says:

    vern is the person that i first think of when i think of spinning. she helped me purchase my first antique spinning well. she is awesome! a true wheel whisperer! my idol!

  3. Freyja says:

    a lovely and impressive young woman indeed…

  4. Joan Burns says:

    What a nice article about a talented gal!

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