I am a recent graduate of knitwear design and having pursued work in the same field over the past year I reside in Tamil Nadu now. Over the years it has come to my understanding that the true nature of designing anything sustainably comes with a true understanding of all stages and understanding the making of the fibres used, which seemed crucial and that eventually made me want to learn and experience hand-spinning in person. I came to know about Shuttles & Needles studio during my graduation project at NIFT Chennai and since then I have been an avid fan of their projects, work ethics and just the entire creative space that is the studio
When I got to the studio to begin my three day workshop, I was met with the familiar buzz of learning and discussions of fibres and textiles that I had started missing since my graduation. I got the opportunity to learn or rather be introduced to the skill, through both theory and practice albeit being able to cover only the very basics of it, because as it remains true for any craft, truly honing the skill will require a lot more practice. To try and learn something new is always nerve-wracking, but I found the key to truly hand-spin any fibre into yarn is to get to the rhythm of it. I was constantly guided while learning to spin and I was often told to “let go” and treat the fibres as “the bird in my hand”, a very philosophical yet effective way in telling me to not clump the fibre in my hand. It takes both of your hands and a lot of deep breaths to work in coordination, with a thrumming repeat of draw, pinch and release for the magic to happen in the spinning wheel. The magic in this scenario to me was watching my body take this movement into its muscle memory and also the actual fluff of fibre turns into a tenacious mass of yarn that can possibly be knit, woven or even simply braided.
My fascination with fibres has doubled since I attended this spinning workshop, did you know that kapok cotton fibre that we used to use for pillow stuffing is a very short staple length silk-cotton like fibre that is grown in pods on trees?
I have been working and researching sustainable methods of developing products for the past year and taking this workshop has left me with an array of possible options to begin working from, and I truly hope to keep hand spinning for years to come ahead.
Ranjana Kera is a textile designer and has a keen interest on developing
sustainable products & processes