In the first week of 2023, I set out to start the new year by learning a new skill, something that has come to bring me so much joy and relaxation. I spent most of January assimilating knowledge - which fibres work well together, what are the various ways in which I can spin and realised how meditative and satisfying the entire process is. Knowing that after a day of spinning, I can hold a hank of yarn feeling almost giddy with happiness is just so compelling, I do it for the adrenaline rush day after day.
As a knitter, I’ve always hoarded yarns of different colours, compositions and textures - but never had I fathomed that I could be making my own yarn, let alone knit entire garments with it. The possibility that I could bring my vision to life floored and excited me for more reasons than one. The range of colours and textures that I could lay my hands on was simply baffling.
Soon, I discovered that there were no limits to handspun yarn. If I had a thought, there was surely some way to make it come alive! I realised with support and guidance that there is really no wrong way to spin yarn. There were no mistakes, it’s a space for complete artistic expression. No yarn is ‘bad’, everything could be salvaged into what always becomes a hank deemed as a prized possession. Each hank is a labour of love.
Now, I spend about five hours a day spinning, and two months later I still feel like a kid in a candy store whenever I’m planning a project or deciding which fibres to use or yarn to create. The sheer number of ways I could go about preparing the yarn for a project leaves me spellbound. The options are endless and I’m forced to exercise some restraint because I’m bursting with ideas!
Learning how to spin my own yarn has been the most exciting experience I could have ever imagined. It makes me feel all sorts of different emotions - the most interesting thing I’ve learnt is that the way I feel reflects in my spinning for the day. A calm day will bring me a hank of some lovely consistent yarn whereas, on a more distracted day, I will spin a less harmonious-looking yarn, all of which are used for my projects regardless. Spinning helps me keep my mental health in check. My spinning wheel is where I have the space to have a conversation with myself, be more present in the moment and spend more time with myself. It’s my me-time, and every time I sit down to spin, I feel thankful for this gift!
Lalitha Alwan is a budding Knitwear Designer from NIFT Chennai, doing her graduation design collection project at Shuttles & Needles