I spent this last weekend with my knitting buddy Greg, a librarian from Iowa. Greg and I met 5 years ago at Meg Swansen's Knitting Camp--we recognized that we were kindred spirits right off the bat when we were both able to remember the actual page numbers for certain Elizabeth Zimmermann quotes. Greg has been a feral knitter and spinner for many years, so it was a joy to explore to local spinning shops with him.
First, we went to Deep Color Studio in Kensington (just a footstep across the north Berkeley border), where we fondled hanks of naturally dyed multicolor rovings created by Claudia Hoffberg. I've been taking spinning classes at Deep Color, where Claudia works to create a community of fiber fanatics.
Next stop, Chichikokoyama Hospital (ooops, I'm channeling My Neighbor Totoro again--the best movie ever made). Next stop, Carolina Homespun in San Francisco. Greg is scared of bridges, so the Bay Area is not a great place to visit, but by sticking to the center lanes we avoided being sucked over the edge of the 8-mile long Bay Bridge! Morgaine's crowded shop is filled with wonders--here's a photo of Greg fondling the $250 PER OUNCE vicuna, a fiber that has only recently been re-introduced to the US after many years. Vicuna, a South American relative of the alpaca (I think), is not domesticated--to obtain the valuable down easily, unscrupulous traders began killing the animals. Need I say that this is not a sustainable long-term policy? The trade in vicuna is now very closely monitored.
We felt we deserved a treat after these visits, where trying to restrain my spending nearly drove me mad, so we stopped at Taqueria Cancun for Mondo Burritos.
I love the taquerias around here!!!
When we had digested enough of lunch to bend over, Greg demonstrated charka spinning, which involves a certain amount of contortion. Charkas are the hand-driven compact spinning wheels most associated with Mahatma Gandhi. They are perfect for spinning cotton and other short-stapled fibers. When done by someone with experience, charka spinning looks a bit like ballet or yoga--lean in, swing the arm out, lean back, lean forward.
Need I say that I did not look like a yoga master nor did I display the Gandhian serenity so associated with this wheel when I tried??? But I loved the feel of the cotton roving turning into thread. However, in Greg's words, "What the hell am I going to do with this stuff?" Weave it into loincloths, dummy.
I'm enjoying this topic, so I think I'll blog about my attempts to figure out a personal style over the next few months. Kit's comment ("I find it extraordinarily... no, it's *damned depressing*, to see a group of middle-aged women knitting gorgeous sweaters while the rest of their wardrobe looks like crap") was right on the mark: although she kindly stated that she was speaking about herself, we've sat at the same tables often enough for me to know that the comment fits me to a stained T-shirt. I know that I tend to get enthused about a pattern or a color and launch into a project without any thought to how it fits my wardrobe as a whole, and I often dress as though I believe I am invisible.
Gecko Tea Cozy
Tomorrow I'll post with the specifics of this, OK? But I wanted to allow those who smile at this phrase another opportunity.