Ground and explore

I have a daily yoga practice that I don’t want to be without. The time I give myself is a moment where I ground in my foundation and explore where my body can take me. On many of these explorations on the yoga mat I have felt a connection to spinning. Grounding and exploring is an important part of my spinning journey.

When I started spinning ten years ago I didn’t know much about spinning at all. I knew knitting and I knew that most of the Swedish wool was being wasted while we imported tons of wool from New Zealand every year. I had decided I wanted to spin a Z-plied yarn for two-end knitting, I knew these yarns were hard to come by. This was the base from which I started building my experience.

Ground

We all have a foundation to lean on, whether it is a few years of spinning practice, a lifetime as a sheep farmer, a reenactment passion or simply the gut feeling that spinning is for me. We all have some sort of connection to spinning, otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it in the first place. This is our foundation, this is our grounding. A safe place where we can connect to what we know.

Pia-Lotta the sheep and mittens from her fleece. Photo by Dan Waltin
Pia-Lotta the finull sheep and two-end knitted mittens from her fleece. Photo by Dan Waltin

My foundation was knitting and a sense of responsibility for endangered techniques and wool waste. While knowing nothing at all about spinning I started from that very foundation, with a curiosity about wool as a knitting companion and as a natural resource that was right in front of me.

Explore

From that foundation I can start exploring what I don’t know, add what I learn to my foundation and explore some more from a new and expanded perspective. Explore the wool, the technique, the tools and my own capacity.

Since I got a box of raw fleece at my very first spinning lesson I got the opportunity to explore and get to know it. I explored the crimp, the elasticity and my technique. Even if I didn’t know it in so many words then, I did explore.

I explore weaving from my foundation as a spinner.

As I learned more I realized that there was a whole range of spinning techniques on the weaving end of the spectrum I decided to learn how to weave. My foundation was by then spinning and I could start from my handspun yarns. I made many mistakes as I explored what I could do and did learn a lot from it. I am still very much of a beginner in weaving. From my grounding as a spinner and with my handspun yarns as my most important foundation, I explore.

Dynamics

From my exploration point I can also go back to my foundation when things start feeling wobbly. The dynamic between grounding and exploring is a sweet motion between what I know and what I have the opportunity to learn, just a short reach away if I dare to take the step.

It’s up to me how far from my foundation I want to explore. As I had finished my two-end knitting yarn I made a pair of two-end knitting mittens. Far too loosely spun and with far too fine fibers in the yarn. As I realized this I went back to my home base, my foundation – I fulled the mittens quite heavily to make them more durable. I spun the yarn for my next two-end knitting project with stronger fibers.

A grey mitten with a venus symbol
I made my second two-end knitting yarn in a stronger wool. Photo by Dan Waltin.

Finding a dynamic between grounding and exploring is a sweet experience. Feeling confident in what I know and how far I can explore gives me strength to reach in new directions while standing strong in my foundation. Reflecting, analyzing and making new discoveries about myself as a spinner are a part of that dynamic. As I learn my foundation deepens, broadens and I can reach further and in new directions from there, just like a tree with deeper roots can stretch further than a sapling.

As my grounding grows, so can my exploration expand. I did make a second (and third) two-end knitting yarn and two-end knitted mittens from new foundations, reaching for further challenges.

The token of my inner artist

A year or so ago I found a bronze sculpture on Swedish eBay. A ballet dancer in a backbend pose, holding her raised ankle behind her. While balancing on the toes of her other leg she is firmly grounded in the floor. At the same time she explores her capacity to broaden her chest and bend her back. Strong, yet supple, grounded, yet open to new possibilities.

I needed her to come to me, and she did. She stands on a sideboard by the living room window, looking out over the lake and into the bright room. She is a token of my inner artist. Grounded in the safety of her foundation. Exploring upwards, outwards, forwards. Her future is bright, but she also has the capacity to face challenges and setbacks with her strength and calmness. She is a part of me.

Every time I practice yoga I see her and my heart sings. She stands beside my spinning wheel and I see her from there too. She reminds me to stand strong in my foundation and explore with curiosity and balance.

The ground will catch me

My ballet dancer is firmly rooted in the ground, yet she explores her capacity to open and stretch her body. Her whole body is attentive to this balance and while she stretches her mind she has full control of all the muscles that keep her upright. If she should fall the ground is there to catch her.

One of my very first weaving projects was full of breaking warp threads.

In one of my very first weaving projects over 30 of my warp threads broke. Very frustrating, no doubt, but my foundation was the handspun yarn and literally the foundation of the project. I know how much time and love I had spent spinning and that I couldn’t let the weave go to waste. I found out how to mend broken warp threads and saved my weave.

As a spinner I ground in my foundation, the ground that is true for me. Yours may be totally different. Our points of explorations will be different too. Yet, we both stand firmly on our respective grounds, reaching and exploring from there. If I fall the ground will catch me, just as your ground will catch you.

The teacher

As a teacher I find it extremely important to get to know the foundation of my students and their respective capacity to explore. I want them to find that dynamic between the points of grounding and exploration that makes them smile and sing “Aaahh!” as they see their progress and realize their own development. I want to be there, right with them as they start from their respective foundations.

Listen to this student as she listens to the wool and aaahhs over understanding carding on a new level.

I hear that aaahh every time I talk about the twist model and we practice opening up the twist. Not right away, but after a bit of practice it comes, I hear my students sing that aaahh, with a smile from ear to ear.

Seven spindle cases finished and ready for my A spindle a day class at Sätergläntan in July, five to go.

In mid July I will be back at Sätergläntan craft education center again, teaching the course A spindle a day to twelve students. I can’t wait to see their journeys. I will bring my yoga mat.

Resources

Below are some resources where you can explore from your foundation:

  • The five-day challenge Fleece through your senses, where you explore a fleece of your own from where you are and with the tools you have
  • The five-day challenge Hands-on, where you explore your hand roles in spinning and change hands to explore on a deeper level.
  • Know your fleece, a course where you go deeper into exploring a fleece of your own with some tools I provide.

Happy exploring!

You can find me in several social media:

  • This blog is my main channel. This is where I write posts about spinning, but also where I explain a bit more about videos I release. Sometimes I make videos that are on the blog only. Subscribe or make an rss feed to be sure not to miss any posts.
  • My youtube channel is where I release a lot of my videos. Subscribe to be sure not to missanything!
  • I have a facebook page where I link to all my blog posts, you are welcome to follow me there.
  • I run an online spinning school, welcome to join a course! You can also check out my course page for courses in Sweden.
  • On Patreon you can get early access to new videos and other Patreon only benefits. The contributions from my patrons is an important way to cover the costs, time and energy I put into the videos and blog posts I create. Shooting and editing a 3 minute video takes about 5 hours. Writing a blog post around 3. You can read more about my Patreon page here.
  • You are also welcome to make one-off donations on my Ko-fi page.
  • Follow me on Instagram.  I announce new blog posts, share images from behind the scenes and post lots of woolliness.
  • Read the new book Knit (spin) Sweden! by Sara Wolf. I am a co-author and write in the fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.
  • In all the social media I offer, you are more than welcome to contact me. Interacting with you helps me make better content. My private Facebook page, however, will remain private.
  • I support Centro de textiles tradicionales del Cusco, a group of talented textile artists in Cusco, Peru who dedicate their work to the empowerment of weavers through the revitalization and sustainable practice of Peruvian ancestral textiles in the Cusco region. Please consider supporting their work by donating to their causes.
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2 Replies to “Ground and explore”

  1. You are so right that moving up, outward, forward, and back in the most efficient manner depends on being firmly rooted in a secure place. It is such a simple teaching but not always easy to keep in mind when needed. So thank you for this lovely reminder.

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