Worthy Fiber Quotes

“There is very little “bad” yarn out there. It is “bad” when we make
inappropriate choices. We have to learn to identify yarns with the
characteristics we want to work with in order to make textiles that
will perform their function.”
Laura Fry
Author – “Magic in the Water: Wet Finishing Handwovens”
Seminar teacher – “A Good Yarn”
http://laurafry. com

“As final maxims: never forget the material you are working with, and try always to use it for doing what it can do best: if you feel yourself hampered by the material in which you are working, instead of being helped by it, you have so far not learned your business, any more than a would-be poet has, who complains of the hardship of writing in measure and rhyme. The special limitations of the material should be a pleasure to you, not a hindrance: a designer, therefore, should always thoroughly understand the processes of the special manufacture he is dealing with, or the result will be a mere tour de force. On the other hand, it is the pleasure in understanding the capabilities of a special material, and using them for suggesting (not imitating) natural beauty and incident, that gives the raison d’être of decorative art.”
William Morris “Textiles” (1893)

One of my daily reads is the Yahoo group Weaving digest. It’s a vibrant group willing to share a wealth of information and knowledge. Laura Fry posted the first statement which was followed by another person posting the quote by William Morris.

With the spinning I’ve been doing for weaving and knitting these resonated with what I’m learning as I totter down new paths of learning and not just doing, which is my wont.

Last week I spun 2 ounces of merino to knit a bag with the intention of felting it. On Sunday I decided to add a few bands of white. I’d purchased a few ounces of icelandic wool at OFFF which I hadn’t tried spinning yet. Since most of the spinning I’ve done these past months has been for weaving I’ve gotten into spinning a finer, tighter yarn, which has carried over into the yarns I spun this past week for knitting. I should have spun lighter, loftier yarn. Especially the icelandic which I regret not using the spindle for.

The spindle gives me much more control and consistency throughout the entire batch. With the wheel there is a tendency to over-twist. I was on a roll and wanted to spin, ply and set the twist all within a couple hours. Knitting with the icelandic yarn yesterday I realized there’s too much twist. I should have taken a page from Willow‘s post a couple days ago – there are second chances. Rather than continuing to knit ahead, the yarn should have been run back through the wheel untwisting it some. (Check out her blog, this is a month for daily posts of a “Thankful Month”.)

It’s not that my yarn is “bad”, it would make excellent warp yarn, but it was spun without serious contemplation of what technique and tools I should use for the best end results.

(No time for taking, editing and uploading pictures. We’ve been swamped with a flood of orders through Stitch Diva‘s sale on some of our products, which ends today.)


Author: Wanda J

I never dreamed my life would be entangled with fiber and the tools used to produce fibery items. When I bought a boat shuttle used in weaving Ed looked at it, decided to make a better one and the rest is history. For a decade he made shuttles, crochet hooks, knitting needles, until his spindles became so popular that he had to devote his time to making them, as well as Walking Wheels. Free time is spent reading, trying to coax food from the ground, and playing in the creek near our place. I love long walks and camping far from crowds. Playing a fiddle beside a stream or with good friends brings sweetness to my soul. Sundays are set aside for worshiping God with our small Quaker meeting.

9 thoughts on “Worthy Fiber Quotes”

  1. So.. you’ve already set the twist. drats.
    I really don’t know ‘that’ much about the spinning yet but I did know that particular trick of sending it back through to lessen or tighten the twist.

  2. That is a perfect quote by Laura Fry! So true!

    Choices are hard at times…do we spin to a project (end results) or spin to what the fiber wants to be (is yarn considered the end result)?

    Sometimes answers raise more questions… but it’s all good!

  3. Those are great quotes — and such perfect timing, as I was just thinking the same sort of thoughts, from a different angle. I’ve been thinking lately how much I enjoy books like Clara Parkes’, which make me think about what kind of yarns works for what kinds of projects; it makes me a more thoughtful knitter to consider the match of yarn to project more carefully. As I knit my handspun more, I also find, like you, that it forms a sort of feedback loop that allows me to spin the next batch more closely to what I want…

  4. I’m imagining spinning to be much like playing the cello–a relaxing time of sitting quietly and applying what one has learned, and always, of course, learning something new. Except spinning is not accompanied by squeaks. Someday I will spin! I’m glad to hear you have lots of orders. Here we are getting that swamped feeling too, and it’s not going to get much better, since Advent is approaching. My extremely busy DH will be updating my website tonight for me, I hope.

  5. Hmmm. This experience is applicable to just about every effort we make…. spinning, knitting, running, biking, hiking, fishing, playing music… did we give enough attention to the process required to achieve the results we want? There is no bad yarn (bad shoes, bad training, bad bait, bad practice…), just inappropriate choices relative to the results desired. Hmmm. Gonna remember this one as “The Lesson of the Yarn.”

  6. Thanks for the nice comment on my blog. I just spun regular singles, as if I were going to ply…. I can’t remember which those are? lol.

    It has been so long since I visited your blog…Your work is so lovely! The yarn, the weaving!

    And those quotes are just great.

  7. One of my goals for 2009 is going to be to LEARN more about spinning and weaving. I spin, as you said, but I’m not ‘learning’ much. It’s time to take the next step of being purposeful in my spinning.

  8. I’ve been so busy lately that I’ve spun not so much with goals in mind, but just for the sake of spinning. I do a fair amount of that anyway since it’s a type of therapy and downtime away from work and the machine when I can get it. But I’ve noticed that there’s a blend for me. When I spin toward a project, I do think about the fibers and their characteristics, but of course we can only factor in what we know. And what we know changes with every experience. So, sometimes we spin *just* to learn. Then we can apply those lessons to that fiber/project the next time. And sometimes we *don’t* know enough at the outset, but we learn–and that in itself is worthwhile.

    It seems to me that what both Fry and Morris (and I love the Morris quote!) are saying here is that we need to recognize what we know . . . and what we don’t know. And then we need to decide whether we want to learn more, or whether we’re satisfied with where we’re at. Morris in particular makes me realize that if we’re satisfied with where we’re at, then we also have to be content with our results. It’s no good not being happy with the results if we’re not willing to experiment, explore, and learn how to make the vision reality.

    Thanks, Wanda.

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