Sunday, February 17, 2019

Handspun: Let Love In

Last week, I wrote about my excitement to start a new spinning project after buying eight ounces of handpainted Targhee wool from Spunky Eclectic in the colorway Let Love In. This week, I separated most of the gray-colored fiber and hand-carded it with four ounces of white alpaca roving that I already had on hand, leaving the bright colors intact.

The fiber spun up as beautifully as I had hoped, with one ounce (28 g) becoming 118 yards (108 m) of two-ply super fine yarn. It’s incredibly soft and bouncy, and captures the essence of spring-like silver skies and rainbows. I’m looking forward to spinning the remaining 11 ounces (312 g). If my gauge is consistent I should end up with a little more than 1,400 yards (1280 m) of yarn, which opens the doors to a wide range of projects.

Skein of colorful handspun wool and alpaca yarn with a penny tucked in to show scale.

Then an interesting thing happened. The same day that I shared a photo of my newly spun yarn online, a friend on Facebook posted two photos from a theater. One photo was of her and her husband with another couple, smiling together as they waited for the performance to begin. The other was looking down from the balcony on a woman who was — GASP! SNICKER! — knitting.

I’m not going to lie; that struck a nerve.

The knitter was quietly minding her own business. The surrounding seats were empty enough that there was clearly plenty of time before showtime. Why shouldn't she spend that time doing something productive rather than, say, passing judgment on strangers?

But then, isn’t my reaction passing judgment in return?

I learned recently that my desire to keep my hands busy is medically considered a tic. I’ve found a harmless way to manage something that drives about 25% of the general population on a biological level. Research has shown that knitting and other such handiwork reduces anxiety levels, thereby coming full circle and reducing the incidence of tics.

I don’t understand my friend’s contentment with simply sitting, drinking, and talking any more than she understands my desire to do something more in the same situation.

I know that my friend is an intelligent person with a successful career. She’s a caring mother who tries to make the world a better place for her children by speaking out against the negative “-isms” that we encounter daily. The tone of her post doesn’t reflect the person I believe her to be.

This example shows the limits to real communication on social media and other modern forms of electronic interaction — yes, including blogs such as this one. I don’t think her reaction would have been the same if she knew the knitter personally, and I don’t think she set out to be insulting when she posted about it. How could I respond without sounding overly-sensitive and defensive?

By letting love in. Every one of us is a complex and contradictory combination of biology, environment, and experience. I don’t need to understand every nuance of you any more than you need to understand every nuance of me. Matching judgment for judgment may feel easier in the moment, but reflection from a place of love serves me better in the long run.

That and keeping my hands busy.

Today, that means I’ll be over here joyfully handspinning 11 more ounces of gorgeous fiber and daydreaming about what it will knit up to be.

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