I've been emailing a couple of friends who share my fibre addiction, and we've been comparing notes and tips on where to buy wool. That's the thing with yarn or fabric or any sort of textile based hobby - it's like heroin. Yarn heroin. Yaroin. You convince yourself you're just going to try it, you know just to see what it's like, just the once, because all the other cool
One of my yarn buddies said she'd like to take up spinning (with roving, not those exercise bikes <shudder>) and I'm reminded of the brief time I joined a spinners and weavers guild to learn how to spin wool.
I purchased my wheel around 20 years ago in a Prince Edward Island antique store, and it has mostly served as a decorative item ever since (and let me just add, it's a son of a gun to dust. Yes, I dust. Occasionally. In years with the number nine in them.) This was way back when we'd drive across the country on vacation with our three young kids in the back of the van armed with crackers, juice and Raffi tapes. (Tangent Alert: I could recite this whole song in a heartbeat, and so could my grown children. It brings me right back to that battered old van.):
Anyway, after dickering and haggling over this spinning wheel with one Dave Jardine for hours, (a whole other story, ending with grins and handshakes all round, and Dave treating me and my husband for lunch) I wanted to learn how to use it and so I joined this guild with that goal in mind. Little did I know that this group consisted mainly of robust German women with strong opinions on everything from spinning wool to raising children (a lot of discipline for both, as I recall.) Some of them were delightfully warm and kind, while others were absolute tyrants. As a woman with a more liberal, laissez-faire attitude in general I was a poor fit but I persevered because all of them were very talented.
Honestly, I believe most of these women really meant well, but unlike the pound cakes and cookies, their advice was sometimes delivered not on a silver plate but with a ball-peen hammer to the side of the head. An innocent remark would bring enlightenment in the form of a swift rebuke. I remember asking one of them about angora. "Are you schtupid? It comes from rabbits, not goats. Goats make mohair." Schtupid?! Oh no, she di'hint. But resistance was futile. I learned to stay silent and observe like Elmer Fudd advised.
The clincher for me was when one of them decided my spinning wheel was "too dirty" from the 100+ years accumulation of lanolin on the inside of the wheel. She went rummaging around the host's kitchen looking for rags, then returned and put her FOOT on the fragile structure and started pulling on it. She was met with resistance, both the creaking wood and my weak protests that perhaps it might break, but she kept twisting and grunted through her clenched teeth, "Yah, it might, and then you'll have to find a good vood-vorker to carve you a new one because they don't make these anymore, but at least it vill be clean." Two other members finally, literally, pulled the woman off, and I decided that was enough spinning guild for me. Relaxing, it was not.
But who knows? I could take it up again, this time on my own, maybe with YouTube as my guide, and I could be spinning circles around you before you can say angora goat. I mean, rabbit.