14 November 2006

NI Spinning Moan

Over the last few months I have come to believe I need to learn to spin. During this time I've learnt quite a bit about spinning, thanks to the wonders of the internet and some excellent books. I've even made a wee bit of fairly knittable yarn on a basic handspindle. However, all my research and reading and messing about has just served to make it all the more frustrating that I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYONE SPIN. No matter how good the illustrations (even with the few short video clips available on the web), there is no substitute for seeing how all the bits of the process are meant to go together. This does not seem to be possible in Northern Ireland.

I had a particularly discouraging experience when my bemused parents gave me the weekend spinning course I had requested for my birthday. I turned up, containing my fibre-frenzied excitement, only to wander round the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum (which is open-air and takes a while to cover on foot)for an hour and a half before any member of staff was able to confirm my hunch that the class had been cancelled. I later learned that only one other person had booked a place, and the teacher had no record of my application (Dodgy post? Muddled mother? Who can tell) so hadn't contacted me. I haven't been able to find any other classes, which isn't too surprising if only two people in this part of the world want to learn to spin. There is a spinning and weaving guild, which meets in the aforementioned museum, but this is a) not a class and b) populated, in my mind at any rate, by posh ladies from Cultraw of a certain respectably artsy bent that sends me running for philistine squalor. This may be unfair and untrue, but I would not be able to flee politely if it wasn't.

Northern Ireland is not a great place to be a knitter unless you specialise in pastel baby clothes. The entire fibre arts revolution seemed to leapfrog us as it rolled across the Atlantic to Britain, depositing only an apparently endless hunger for furry acrylic scarves. Pish. I'm going to extend my spinning search across the border - it's cheaper than getting to England.


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