or: periphron penelopeia

weaving of thoughts in doing the work of Penelope

December 1, 2010

Spinning the Beginning, Part 2

When there is a lot to do and I feel unable to tell apart the importance and urgency of the tasks lying ahead (acc. to General Eisenhower) I start the day with spinning. To make a thread out of loose fibers seems to be just the opposite of separating and sorting out things to do. And spinning is definitely neither important nor urgent for my work.

Here and in the background you see the selfmade spindle I am working with. It is 13.5 cm (5.31 in) long and its weight is 3 gr (0.11 oz) with wool (only washed, very short and frizzy hair). I used an acrylic bead as spindle whorl because of its shape and design, but this is a bit shortweight ...

When you try to spin by hand the first time, all instructions seem to be useless. Of course you have to give a spin to the spindle and to drew some fibers out of the bulk of wool in your left hand. But it will be a struggle with yourself and your claims of success. The crucial point is that the thread makes itself if you just attentively watch what the things are doing and if you make the smallest possible interventions. Just regulate the circumstances: give spin to the spindle just in time, give way to the fibers in the other hand, and drew out the thread in tempered speed.

It is a fascinating process. When you try to learn you may think you will never ever manage it. I made this exercise with students and there was a lot of frustration and complaining about the instructions they read in books. Learning to spin challenges our demand of control and coordination.

Instructions and descriptions of spinning never mention the visual and rhythmical awareness that is crucial for the spinning of a consistent thread without knobs and irregularities. This awareness on the spinning process   seems to center myself in mind. And then the rest of the day goes like spinning: watching the circumstances, giving spin and way to the right things in due time, and the threads makes itself.

And the moral of this story? Spinning never goes in the rubbish bin.