Some people aren’t content just to knit. They also want to create the yarns they use to make sweaters, scarves and other garments. Three spinner/knitters will be demonstrating their skills and talking about why they love spinning yarn at the July Last Friday Art Walk.
The Knitting Nest, 109 E. Harper Ave., will be hosting the spinners who will show Art Walk participants the process of spinning yarn and will also give anyone who wants to the opportunity to try it themselves.
Last Friday Art Walk is from 5-9 p.m., Friday, July 29. Other downtown Maryville businesses will feature the work of area artists. In addition, Robinella will be performing at the Capitol Theater. All art walk events are free except for Robinella’s concert, which is $12 for tickets bought online and $15 at the door.
Spinner Angie Hardison said she has been knitting for about eight years but is relatively new to spinning. Hardison attended an annual conference “Stitches” in Atlanta and took a spinning class.
“I really fell in love with it,” she said.
Hardison will be demonstrating on a drop spindle, which is a wooden stick about a foot long with a wheel on it. The spindle has a hook at the top that the fiber is attached to, and the fiber is worked until the desired weight is attained. The yarn can also be plied with more than one strand to make it stronger.
Fibers are animal or plant based. She plans to bring an alpaca and silk blend to use, and she will also bring extra spindles to let others experience the magic. While some spinners raise their own animals to gather fiber, Hardison purchases her. Raw fiber, particularly from sheep, needs to be cleaned before it can be used, and then there’s the necessity of land needed for the animals.
“I live in a pretty suburban neighborhood so I can’t raise any of my own animals,” she said with a laugh.
Spinning your own yarn is “more expensive, so you just have to have a love for it,” she said. Hardison keeps the yarn she makes for her own use rather than trying to sell it. “I like it. So much work goes into it. I don’t want to get rid of it.”
The drop spindle has low start up costs, she said, which makes it easy to get started. She said learning to use the drop spindle was easier than a spinning wheel.
Another spinner, Kathleen Marquardt, said she will demonstrate spinning on a scotch tension spinning wheel. Marquardt, who recently moved to Tennessee from California, said she initially resisted learning to spin yarn. She was a knitter, sewer and a weaver, but she didn’t want to learn how to spin. Marquardt ended up trying it and discovered she had a real love for spinning.
“Spinning is the most relaxing thing there is,” she said. “It’s like meditation.”
People will be able to try out her spinning wheel as well. Marquardt said she plans to display some of the yarn she’s made plus some of the clothing she’s knitted from her yarns.
The third spinner, Patty Benton of Knoxville, said she will display samples of different types of fibers including bamboo, wool, ramie and silk.
Benton followed an unusual path to becoming a spinner. Her daughter was in 4-H and was raising sheep that are bred for their wool, which meant they had a lot of wool and nothing to do with it. So Benton and another 4-H mother decided they would try spinning.
“I had a hard time because it was not an easy thing to do,” she said. “I was frustrated.”
She had been a knitter and said it was quicker to buy yarn than to try to make it, but she stuck with it. After a couple of years, she felt really comfortable with spinning.
“Now I would just as soon spin as knit,” she said. “I’m not a professional spinner. I’m still learning.”
All three women, who are members of the Tennessee Valley Handspinners Guild, said they are looking forward to being part the Last Friday Art Walk.
Antje Gillingham, owner of The Knitting Nest, participates regularly in the monthly event and said she enjoys bringing in artists who can actually demonstrate their craft.
“I just have found that people are fascinated by the creative process. You see the end product but not many people know what goes into it,” she said. “They appreciate it more when they know what it took to make it.”