At the Still Point of the Turning World
Residency is over, NOW what? (While I'm waiting for the answer, I'll get some spinning done....)

Saturday, November 02, 2002


I hit the ground running since returning to Salinas--up early this morning to round on the ICU, and then spent the rest of the day participating in the Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics (ALSO) course being hosted at my hospital. I'm feeling major re-entry shock at the change from spinning and knitting, but in a strange way it's nice to be back. My work gives meaning to the time I have for spinning and knitting. Returning to work certainly makes me treasure the SOAR experience. Here's a few concluding thoughts:

Workshop Review

I'm still catching up with the project assignments I received in my workshop with Kathryn Alexander. At some point I may post some photos of my own experiments using her techniques, but if you're curious about what we got up to, consult the Spring 2002 issue of Spin-Off for her article, which describes the basic principles she taught us in the workshop. Here's the Reader's Digest version:

1. When you spin singles, you introduce twist energy into the resulting yarn. This twist can be either S- or Z- in direction.

2. Various factors can alter the amount of energy in singles yarn. You can "kill" twist energy to a certain extent by blocking or steaming yarn, but you never completely eliminate this energy.

3. Instead of trying to "kill" the twist energy of your singles yarn, you could try to incorporate their energy into your knitted fabric. You can achieve this through various means: using balanced knit-purl textured patterns to even out Z- or S-twist energy; alternating knitting with Z- and S-spun singles; or using special knitting techniques such as entrelac, which helps balance out unidirectional twist energy by extending the knitted fabric into different dirctions.

4. By using these techniques, you can create a balanced knitted fabric BUT this fabric will have a lot of lively surface texture because you used energized singles!

There's so much more to what I learned in Kathryn's workshop, but these are the basic principles. I will post photos soon if I can muster up the energy. Most of all, I learned so much from being around Kathryn herself. She's a wonderful, friendly woman with a real artistic perception of knitting (and weaving). She talked a lot about the surfaces of textiles--something I never thought about before--and about pleasing yourself with your knitting. Often we'd consult her about our emerging knitted swatch, worried that it was "wrong" (no two knitted swatches in our class looked alike!). In response, she'd ask, "Well, do you like it?" It was eye-opening to work with someone who strives to please herself first in all her creative pursuits, instead of trying to make a sweater look like the photograph on the pattern, or to create a finished object that looks "professional." I came away from her workshop with so many ideas. Right now I'm planning to spin some of the many, many pounds of naturally-dyed rovings I dyed last winter into energized singles and play at creating energized surfaces--just for the fun of it. Whee!

Spinning Community

One of my favorite things about being at SOAR was looking up--at dinner, in the workshops, during the evening events--and seeing people spinning and knitting everywhere. Sometimes I feel isolated in my fibery pursuits, since I pursue them on my own and here in the online fiber arts community. I rarely get to watch people work, however. SOAR gave me a hint at the large fiber arts community out there--and it was thrilling. What was especially wonderful was how open and helpful the SOAR "veterans" were towards the SOAR "virgins" (like moi!). For example, I got to meet Selma Miriam, whose work is featured in Knitting in America, and who has a special interest in natural dyeing like I do. She offered to help me with future indigo dyeing efforts and encouraged me to knit her shawl design from Knitting in America. So kind! So spinnerly!

Last but not Least: My Loot!

You thought I'd never get to this, didn't you? Well, here it is! (Click on thumbnails for larger images.)

1. Spindles. Number 1: a Tabachek compact deluxe (2.5" whorl, 8" shaft) in bloodwood. Number 2: a Cascabeles spindle in bocote, inlaid with onyx, coral and turquoise beads. Number 3: a new design of spindle by Avi Wasserman, an Israeli woodturner, available at The Fold.

I also succumbed to a mini-Bossie in Black Palm, which didn't photograph well. Delicious!

2. Fiber. Number 1: merino/tencel roving from Bonkers. The upper colorway is called Indian Summer, the lower is Dragonfly. Number 2: handpainted tussah silk rovings from Treenway Silk. The colorway on the left is Spice Market, the one on the left is Autumn Glory. Number 3: a luscious blend of merino/cormo/tussah from The Fold--it spins up into a lovely pale gold yarn.

That's about all. I bought some lovely naturally-dyed and handspun yarn for my mother, but no photo. You'll have to wait until Mom finishes a garment!