Let me start by confessing that writing the first entry to what I believe is the first website dedicated to the ergonomics of hand knitting, hand spinning, and the fiber arts is scary. Weeks of agonizing over the perfect entry made my head hurt and my confidence wane. The first entry needs to tell you what you'll find here. Information about tools, fibers, posture, injury reduction strategies - it all needs to be talked about. I get these questions everywhere I go to teach. Its probably because I'm a physical therapist that I'm driven to give you all this information in a neat little package to take home and use. So after months of paying for a domain my BFF (and recently my Stitches East students) have pushed me off the cliff and here we are free falling and waiting for a splash or a thud. And all I can think to to tell you about is my recent east coast adventure. I admit that I like to tell stories even in my classes, but they almost always have a point even if I need to sharpen it a little at the end. This story begin with me flying to New England at an hour not usually seen on my clock. I rented a car in Hartford and drove to Massachusetts to pick up my mom. We were headed to the NY Sheep and Wool Festival at Rhinebeck where we'd meet up with my BFF and partner in fiber crime, Mary Scott Huff (who is now a big fancy published author and the sassiest gal I know). You need to know that when Mary and I went to the Black Sheep Gathering this year she did nothing to to stop me from buying not one, but three of the most beautiful unprocessed fleeces I've ever seen from Island Fibers. Well if one is good, then two is better, so three must be best. Sold. I bought them because I want to be involved in all phases of the fiber production and because they are gorgeous and because one of my fantasy projects is to knit a traditional Gansey with wool that I've prepared and spun. Its good to give those small hand and wrist muscles a break by doing some of the fiber processing. Let the big muscles do some work sometime. Its now months later and I haven't finished cleaning the first one, but I maintain it was still the right decision to buy three. I did however make Mary sign a pact that if she ever sees that glassy look in my eyes again while I gaze at a fleece she is to strike me with the nearest heavy object until I regain my senses.
But Rhinebeck was different. I was on a different mission. For the last year or so I've been foaming at the mouth wanting to try a Norm Hall spinning wheel. It was a total long shot that he would even have one there to try. And he's not taking orders at this point so I could forget ordering one even if I fell in love with the wheel he might not have for me to try. But St. Fleecia was smiling upon me. He did have a wheel to try. And it was love at the first draft. The orifice is perfectly in front of my hands. The treadle is designed so that its axis is exactly under the axis of my ankle with overhang for your heel so that both the up and down movement of your foot are effective. You can start the wheel by treadling without having to reach out to turn the wheel. This machine is so smooth that you'd want to drink it for breakfast. And can we talk beauty? A work of art. Its made of zebra maple and cherry. It even sounds delicious - except for the zebra part. How could I walk away without buying it? Impossible. So I did. Of course I did. Would I tell you all this and end by not buying it?
So what's all this got to do with knitting? Well, spinning makes yarn. And spinning is another opportunity to change up the postures and movements that we knitters all too frequently employ. That's partly why I do it. And our tools are important for all phases of fiber work. We should choose tools that fit us and that are comfortable to use (and if they are works of art so much the better). We should choose tools that optimize the natural forces of gravity and friction. They should always help us to make work easier. I promise to tell you more about how to do all this in upcoming posts. But for now I've got a fleece or three to wash.
What was that sound?
Knitting connects me to the hands and hearts of those who have taught me. Ergo, I knit.