I recently had the sad duty of cleaning out the stash of a long-time weaver, spinner, and knitter, Jane Garrett. Jane was 89 years old, and had seemingly done everything in the fiber arts, from turning fleeces into sweaters of hand-dyed, handspun yarn, to weaving fabric for a reversible, double weave coat, making clever animals out of yarn, knitting beautiful lace shawlsand practical slippers, weaving miles of hand-woven dish towels, etc., etc. She left all her fiber related stuff to Seaview Weavers Guild, and after her death, her daughter Sally called me to come pick it up. We were glad that Sally decided to keep the loom her father had made for Jane, and that she hopes to learn to weave.
As Sally and I sorted through boxes and sacks and piles and mounds of (mostly) neatly labeled yarns, fiber, buttons, tools, scraps of handwoven, binders of weaving samples, and so on, I came to a couple of conclusions. One, don’t keep everything. Scrappy stuff will just get tossed when you are not there to hang onto it. Two, don’t leave the best for later, because later might not arrive in time for you. We found two ounces of quiviut fiber, a couple of pounds of silk, about half a pound of angora, a sack of alpaca, several pounds of merino, etc., etc., all ready to be spun. Massive amounts of handspun, waiting to be knitted. Cones and cones of cotton, waiting to be woven. By ruthlessly tossing, we managed to get the usable stuff and the spinning wheel into my Volvo stationwagon and have enough room left for me.
The spinning wheel is being kept by the guild to have available for long-term loan. It still had Jane’s last work on it, a lovely merino/tencel blend. There were two bobbins done and one on the wheel, with a little fiber yet to spin. I spun that off, and decided that Jane had intended to make 3-ply. The top yarn here is the three-ply, about 85 yards. The lower yarn is 25 yards of two-ply that I made with what remained on two bobbins after one ran out.
Probably the worst of the lumpy bits in the top yarn are my spinning — that tencel blend is very slippery, and took some getting used to! But the bottom yarn is all Jane-spun, and I’m relieved to see that it’s not perfect, either. The plying is all mine — like the curate’s egg, parts of it are excellent. I think I’ll make it into a lacy neck-warmer type thing, and use the two-ply to have an extra lacy edge. Pattern suggestions are welcome!
The wheel, a Lendrum single-treadle, is one of the ones I learned to spin on and has seen a lot of use. The flyer has grooves worn in it by the passage of miles of yarn.
Who knew that spinning wheels could get crow’s feet, or maybe laugh lines?
At our meeting, as the guild members chose items from Jane’s legacy to us to incorporate into our stashes, we decided to make note of where these things came from, and include that fact when we bring the finished items back to guild Show and Tell. So Jane will still be part of our meetings, as long as her stash lasts.