Tuesday, January 14, 2014

On not giving a yes or no response...

Someone asked, in response to a photo I posted of some cotton I was in the process of spinning: is cotton hard to spin?

As a teacher of spinning and as someone who loves to follow my curiosity, the question intrigued me. Maybe the questioner is making idle conversation and doesn't want a thoughtful answer. Maybe she means: if you say it's easy, I'll be emboldened to try it, or will she think, why bother if any fool can do it? If I say it's easy will she just jump in and then get frustrated if she finds that it doesn't conform to
her expectations of "easy"?

What does "easy" mean? Does it mean that she'll be able to spin hundreds of yards of "perfect" yarn in half an hour?

If I say it's hard, will she give up before trying or will she think it's a challenge to try because others find it hard? Maybe in trying, will a conversational door be opened...
What are the characteristics of this fiber?
What is the staple length and optimum way to spin it?
What ways has it been spun in the past and with what tools?
Might I spin for the joy of it and to explore this unique fiber, the way it behaves when I draft it one way or another with different spindles and/or wheels? 
Is there one cotton fiber or are there many cottons?
Would I be making particular use of the spun fiber?
What does the spun fiber act like when it's spun thin or thick? How does it differ when left as a singles, plied with another singles, 3 ply, 4 or more plies, a cabled yarn?

What does "hard to spin" mean?
That only a few people who've ever attempted it have succeeded?
That it will take years of practice and preparation before I'll be able to do it?
That I will have to put my body through a rigorous training program to develop the muscles and stamina to do it?
That I'll have to endanger my welfare to obtain the materials and tools and maybe end up in financial and spiritual ruin?
That there will be a panel of judges who will scrutinize every length of fiber I've spun and determine whether I'm allowed to continue?
That I will have to spin in secret and if found, the penalty is death?
That there is nowhere to go for guidance and instruction, and I'll be left foundering in the dark - that 10 years from now, I'll be discovered in a cave babbling incoherently about spinning cotton?

Why the question anyway? Why would we let someone else's determination of whether something is "hard" or "easy" be a factor in whether we attempt something? So, I don't know - do you want someone other than you to determine your experience of life or do you want to keep diving in when something piques your curiosity? Do you want to make your own unique life, full of experiences that amuse, enrich and challenge you, develop areas of your mind and soul that make you into you?

Again, maybe it's just idle conversation and doesn't merit anything other than an idle response. So...do you have some cotton fiber and a spindle? No, it's not hard to spin.

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