Thursday, June 17, 2010


bliss (blis) n. 1. great happiness, perfect joy

Not so very long ago, I was a stay-at-home mom with small children and a husband who worked weird hours.  Like many women in that position, I watched a lot of Oprah.  There was one hour set aside in every day to sit and knit and listen to somebody talk about something, anything, besides Barney The Purple Dinosaur.  And Oprah kept telling me to "find my bliss."

Well, at the time, my bliss consisted of finding two matching socks in a load of laundry, or someone actually flushing the toilet after they used it, so I really couldn't figure out what Oprah was talking about.  But it sounded good.

As my children got a little older and started school, I had more free time to knit.  Then I learned to spin. 

At first, it was hard.  I couldn't make the spindle do what I wanted it to do and my yarns were over-twisted and lumpy.  But I really wanted to do this, so I kept practicing, and pretty soon I was making a smooth yarn that was actually usable.  Then I started the Master Spinner Program and found out how much I didn't know.  Back to square one, with lots of practice and lots of frustration.  If someone had asked me then if I had found my bliss, I probably would have punched them in the throat.

I managed to struggle through the hundreds of sample skeins that we were assigned at school, and I must admit, there was little to no joy in spinning for me during those years.  I fought the idea of specific tpi for a specific use.  I hated counting those treadles!  It was Serious Work.  No fun at all.  Joyless.  But, I was determined to be a Master.  I made specific skeins out of specific fibres, whether I wanted to or not.  When I wasn't making assigned skeins, I was practicing my drafting.  I took workshops whenever I could afford to.  I worked and worked to be a good spinner.

Then one day, I sat down to spin.  And I was a good spinner.  I still had a couple of levels left in the Master Spinner Program, but I knew what I was doing and I could handle it.  I really enjoyed spinning to a specific tpi for my in-depth study.  I really enjoyed spinning.  Period.

Then I broke my wrist.  I was in and out of casts for the larger part of a year after that, and I learned something.  Spinning was the thing that made me complete.  I have been blessed with a wonderful husband,  three beautiful, clever, healthy children, a home, and a good life.  But spinning was mine alone.  The thing that made me, well, feel like me.

I had found my bliss.

Since then, I have been teaching spinning on a fairly regular basis.  This gives me an excuse to continue spinning, but it also gives me an opportunity to share that thing that brings me such joy with others.  I have seen others struggle the way I did, and I can offer a way around that thing that is blocking their bliss.

I am a member of a far-flung community of string lovers.  We gather every now and then, such as at the HWSDA's conference in Edmonton a couple of weeks ago.  When we gather, the bliss is multiplied.  It's good to know that playing with string affects others as deeply as it does me.  And sometimes, there is an unexpected bonus.  Like these two lovely young people...

Laura and Daniel were not members of the HWSDA.  They attend the college where the conference was held,  but Laura has always loved the idea of spinning.  Her mother was a spinner and Laura did not appreciate it until she moved away from home, and was asking a lot of questions.  So we sat her down and gave her a quick lesson.   Daniel wanted to try, too, so we got him going on another wheel.  Soon, both of them where spinning a fair-to-middlin' yarn.  Look at the expressions on their faces.  Pure joy at their accomplishments.


I will also confess that a glass or two of wine has been known to contribute to my bliss.  Which leads me to this photo from that conference... under lock and key.  In case your computer's resolution is preventing you from reading the sign, here is a close-up.

Bwahahahaha!  Apparently. they know us too well!  And they are taunting us!  "Look inside", indeed!

So, now I'm preparing for another Fibre Week.  I will be teaching Level 3 once again, inflicting tpi stress upon another class.  I try very hard to remember my own anxiety about those very specific skeins when I teach this level.  And I remember the day I said "ah-ha!" and it ceased to be work.  And I try to share how the struggle to learn proper technical skills actually set me free to spin.  Spinning the right yarn for the right job ceased to be Serious Work.

And became Bliss.