Judith Mackenzie McCuin, writes in The Intentional Spinner: A Holistic Approach to Making Yarn that Sarah Natani, a Navajo weaver, tells her students that a spinner is  “just like Spider Woman. Everything She touches changes and She touches everything.”  Judith asks that we remember Spider Woman, and watch what happens to the twist as we use our tools – everything from ball and bobbin winders to knitting needles and whether or not we carry the yarn in our right or left hand.  She suggests we swatch and watch what happens.  Sounds like an experiment.

Spider Rock

Spider Rock, home of Spider Woman

I got out a two-ply bulky handspun  and cast on.  I knit a dozen rows continental, a dozen English and a dozen continental again.  Judith said that yarns plied S or to left, will tighten when knit in the continental manner  and the twist will relax when carried in the right hand as when knitting English.  The experiment did not get the expected result.  My continental stitches were consistently looser than the English stitches.  I definitely carry the yarn with less tension in the left hand than when wrapping with the right.  So, I will continue to spin Z and ply S. 

As a new spinner, I am spinning to improve my skill and trust that the finished yarn will tell me what it wants to become.    The thick and thin merinos I spun and plied bloomed beautifully.  It will be too warm for wearing, so  I think  I will save  it  for weaving.  I can imagine it mixed with other yarns , sett loosely and woven in plain weave.   It will be an opportunity to test another of  Judith’s theories that if both the warp and weft are spun in the same direction, the yarns will lock together to make a strong but lightweight fabric.    Which is exactly what I would want in a blanket.


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