I dare you to!

Posted by on October 30, 2012 in Events, Fiber, Observations, Yarns | 5 comments

Last week I had a particularly cool day. I went to the Hand Craft Fair held in Rotterdam, its a big event and I was really looking forward to it – not least because I was planning on seeing some people there I havent seen in a while, as well as meeting up with Deidre (Deidre Dreams) – we have been chatting off and on for months on Facebook, as well as buying each others products! So this was already cool. Add to that the potential of making awesome finds and purchases, getting new ideas, and seeing what everyone else is doing, had to be good right!?

It got even better.

I found the stand of the lovely Alet from Textielwerk en Zo, she was surrounded by quite a number of people talking yarns, I didn’t want to disturb that so I went in search of adventure and found where Monique was manning the spinning wheels and carders at a big table. She gleefully revealed to me a large box under the table with all the left over fibers that Esther (JazzTurtle) had brought over for the workshop back in June. I say box. I mean TREASURE CHEST. I looked at Monique and I am sure she knew exactly what was going through my mind as she pointed to the drum carders. Yes! I reached in and grabbed handful after handful, allowing whatever came out of the box to take its place in the batt, as was its right. At some point, I found a white feather, it was attached, to a feather boa. It was one of the things I had added to the pile back at the workshop, one end was quite bald, and I briefly considered plucking off some more feathers to spin into the yarn. My mind balked at this idea. I wanted to whip up something fast, make it look easy, show off  the Aura and  just what can be done with an it (as it is The One Wheel afterall).

The thought raced across my mind, accompanied with an image; Why not spin the WHOLE THING into the yarn?

What? But.. but… its thick.. and fat with feathers!’ I thought.
Followed by ‘well, thats why you have an Aura isnt it? So you can do crazy things?’

‘But.. its weird, isnt it? a lump of feathers in the middle of a skein?’
‘well? so?’

Ok then, dammit! I WILL spin this boa straight into the yarn!

I cut off a length about 16 inches long, and sat with it, and the batt, on my knee. There were also strips of fabric, many many different colours and fibers, sparkly christmas tinsel, and Monique even found a felted ball with a hole through it in the box  treasure chest, and a needle in her bag to thread some roving through (we later found that not only did Monique have a sewing needle in her bag, but Deidre had her crochet, I had my spindle and roving, and Esther P had yarn! Geeks, everyone of us).

I started core spinning, which I chose because its not the most common technique and I guessed  there might be a number of traditional spinners around who could be interested. People came to see what I was doing. I am fairly sure that some of them experienced brain implosion at various points of progression through the batt. I know this because I saw the face-pucker that this event brings on. Most however were really interested, intrigued,  and/or enthusiastic.

When I got to the feather boa I simply attached one end between the fiber and the core and gave it a good bit of twist with some fibers around the outside, and then let it coil around the core till I got to the end and did the same at that end, it seemed pretty secure! At this point though, I did start to wonder what I was doing. I had planned to navajo ply the yarn, again because its an interesting technique that not everyone knows, and to show that the Aura is great for a really textured big yarn. As I spun these feathers through it though, I did wonder if it was even going to be possible to n-ply such a thick and not so bendy thing. I said as much to Monique, but we decided that if I was to just make the chain as long as the boa piece, it wouldnt get ‘that’ much thicker and should go through the wheel ok.

So thats what I did, when I got to the boa I pulled it out far enough that two threads of woollen fibers just wrapped along it and it wasn’t doubled. It was still pretty thick, and I didnt have a tool to lift the head on the wheel higher to increase the tension enough to pull that onto the bobbin, so we wound that part on by hand. In a stroke of pure luck, the big felted ball ended up on just the right part of the yarn to be alongside the boa as I plyed it, so they joined each other in the craziest part of the yarn. I thought it was cool that by challenging myself to do this it had randomly led to all the right things coming together at the right place and time. I had this same thing when I made the Leather and Lace yarn for the Spin Artiste travelling yarn show, I had dreamed this idea of drawing tattoos on the leather pieces, I wasnt sure how it would come out but I was planning and planning, and at some point my planning reached a kind of pivot-point from which I thought ‘dammit’ and I just made a leap, before all the ideas were really fully formed and analysed in my head.

Next came the cool part – with the boa on the bobbin, as I treadled it spun and all the tiny bits of feather I had cut at the ends and were loose came flying out like snow. Really pretty! Thats what I call special effects for spinning! Once the air cleared, the spinning bobbin looked rather like it had a chicken wrapped around it, and I tell you what, if you ever want to attract attention in a crowd, spin a chicken on your wheel. People were coming up and, after ascertaining that there wasn’t actual animal cruelty occurring at the craft show, were asking about the yarn, and of course, what to do with it. We made some suggestions, mostly involving things like accessories, body adornments, and artworks.

I dont know if my little demonstration sold any wheels XD and I don’t know if it even got close to inspiring anyone to learn to spin, but I did get a name to add to the list for my next workshop (because happily the 8 Dec workshop is now full!), so maybe we will spin feather boa’s into our yarns then! I didnt scare everyone off at least 😀

Ok so the whole title thing, about daring? After I did that yarn, and looked at the pic of it later, I thought about the choice I had made to spin that piece of boa into it. I am sure someone else already did this before me, but I havent seen that and at the time  I couldnt imagine how it would look in the middle of a skein. I had some moments of doubt, fuelled by – what will people think – is it too crazy – will it totally fail – kinda questions. I took a risk, and I dared myself to just do it. And I did. And I loved the result. I realised that most of the things I have done that I most enjoyed and have turned out the most successful for me, were the things when I had big doubts, and then just thought’ hey what the hell, just do it!

I think there are two things required in order to do this and take what I consider semi-intuitive leaps- you need to be able to trust yourself to deal with any sh*t you might get yourself into by just ‘doing it’. And you need to not think about what other people will think. Some risks are small, like choosing to spin a boa into yarn, some risks are big, like moving to the other side of the planet. But when I look at the choices I make and have made, usually those ones that make me feel like I am really ‘daring’ to do it, have totally brought the most amazing results in comparison to the ones where I took the safe path. Its like you can open doors for yourself if you have the passion to do something and let your fears go.

Also a lot of coffee helps.

Some people live by their religions, I guess I live by the Nike logo, ‘Just Do It’

I can’t say if thats good or bad, I have to also acknowledge my limitations and balance it with the extent to which I trust myself.

Do you have a phrase that sums up your decision making process? Are you an instinctive person or a more deliberate thoughtful person? An optimist or a realist? When was the last time you did something you thought was really daring and did it bring you great success? 


  1. Simply amazing!! It’s the thrill of trying it. I always say “Perserverance is my middle name”.

  2. so inspiring and right on…creative break throughs are there to be had when you let yourself fall into the abyss!

    • the abyss! Thats a good description of it, finding unknown depths.. to boldly go where no spinner has been before..

  3. You picked the right words! Great story. I had really fun to!
    And i always tell myself as in “Bob the builder” Can we fix it, YES WE CAN! Can we spin it, Yes we can!

    • youre right Annemoon! And if it wasnt for you I would have chickened out (:P) of n-plying that boa!

Leave a Reply