Let’s talk about spinning. No, not the crazed, stationary bike pedaling classes offered at gyms everywhere. Think yarn — warm, colorful, fun yarn. Think, if you can, spinning wheels and hand spindles and lots of fiber. Mostly, think Amy King, a Lisbon-based authority on yarn who says creating your own yarn — in its many, many different forms — is fun and addictive.

Hand spinning yarn from fiber has been done by men and women for more than 10,000 years. Throughout history there are references to spinning and to the hand tool also used to create yarn, the spindle. From Plato to the Bible to Navajo, most cultures make some mention of the endeavor.

“There are a lot of people out there who believe that spindling and
spinning are not something that people necessarily have to learn, but
that our ancestors had to do it for themselves so long ago that it’s an
instinct some people are just born with,” said King. “An innate
ability; they are just remembering what their ancestors have done. It’s
like an instinct.”

Over time, people have drafted their own yarn for clothing, blankets
and rope. The craft — art in the hands of some — is still alive and
quite popular today, helped by the explosion of new techniques, dyeing and novelty
yarns. Additions of beads, feathers, ribbon and
more make every project unique, and who doesn’t like having
something that’s one of a kind?

King began spinning about 10 years ago and fell in love with it, and not only for the beautiful yarn it produces. “(Spinning) can be very Zen-like, very relaxing,” said King. 

If spinning is the yin, the energetic colors she uses and has become known for is the yang. Even when she was younger and making her own clothing, King was dyeing material, using kettle dyes and tie-dye kits. When she began spinning, fiber came in mostly natural colors. When she wanted “brighter and funkier” colors, she got creative and began dyeing the fiber herself.

“I started to dye my own for my use and eventually it morphed into supplying
fibers for others,” said King, who has become a respected authority by spinning enthusiasts around the globe, publishing her book “Spin Control” this year.

Proof of her following: David Schulz of Australia, a follow spinning enthusiast, recently
traveled to Rhinebeck, N.Y. for the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival. On his way, he stopped to visit King in
Maine and they had an impromptu spinning session at King’s store in
October.

King maintains her color-filled store, Spunky Eclectic on Webster Road in Lisbon, as well as a Web site and her blog “Boogie Knits.”
In addition to spinning classes, she has several online how-to video
clips on everything from getting started in spinning to dyeing your own fiber. For those who don’t want to take the extra step of hand dyeing, King has a vast array of hand-dyed fibers to choose from.

For more information on King, spinning or her shop, visit her Web site at www.spunkyeclectic.com.

Amy King of Spunky Eclectic in Lisbon spins some wool fibers on one of her spinning wheels.

So you want to be a spinner
Treadle: A foot lever or pedal that operates the spinning  wheel.
Batt: Fiber that has been prepared on a drumcarder; it resembles a blanket.
Roving: Fiber that has been carded and comes in a long strand instead of a batt.
Drafting: Pulling fiber to be twisted into yarn when spinning.
Predrafting: Stripping fibers prior to spinning on a wheel or spindle.
Worsted: Yarn spun from combed fiber; denser and smoother and of any thickness.


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