I’m an inveterate goal setter. I think the reason for this is that having a goal provides a vantage point; it gives me someplace to start and somewhere to go. It’s like a good story. With a goal you get a beginning, a middle, and an end, and even if the end doesn’t turn out to be what you hoped for, it’s meaningful because it was part of something bigger.
My goals have been all over the place. In high school I decided I wanted to learn to speak French well enough that I could go to France by myself and fit in. It took me several years beyond high school to make this happen, but eventually it did. One time, I decided I wanted to get strong enough to bench press my body weight. I told myself that if I could do it, I’d get a tattoo. I did, and I did.
There have been plenty of instances of failure in the goal achieving department. I have yet to knit a complete blanket, and there’s that dissertation that’s missing a few chapters. The thing about even these unrealized goals, though, is that by staking a claim in my consciousness and my day-to-day life, they’ve made possible some of the most meaningful experiences I’ve ever had.
I mention all of this for obvious reasons. I don’t usually make resolutions, but I do like to begin the year with a sense of where I want to direct my attention. This year, one of the things I’ve decided to do is participate in the #spin15aday2018challenge.
Knitting just is. It happens regardless. Sometimes, I might have a goal of tackling a particular technique or completing a special project (looking at you here, blanket), but I don’t need extra motivation to knit any more than I do to breathe.
Spinning is different, though. I enjoy it immensely, and actually knitting with my own handspun . . . Well, that was transformative. The thing is, I tend to get caught up in the particulars. I worry that my yarn isn’t consistent, that the twist of the singles isn’t right for the twist of the ply, that my prep is incomplete or downright wrong, that I’m not treating the fiber in the way it wants to be treated. I’ve vowed to let my hands take over and do it by feel. I’ve also tried measuring every possible variable. Neither approach has felt right enough to be completely satisfying. So, I spin in fits and starts.
Well, the other day I happened across the #spin15aday2018challenge. Sherrill, The 1764 Shepherdess, has been spearheading this challenge since 2015. Who knew??
About ten thousand people on instagram, apparently.
But anyway . . .
This challenge is a wonderful thing. Many, many of the instagram pics feature dazzling work. There is also quite a community that has developed around the idea. A lot of those who participate are doing the January #wemakeyarn challenge, created by @ThreeWatersFarm and @KnittingSarah. Posters respond to prompts related to their fiber lives with both photos and explanations. The insight this is offering into spinners’ minds and habits is incredible. File it under “feeding the soul,” people. Seriously, follow that hashtag! You won’t be sorry.
But I digress . . . I have committed to trying to spin for at least 15 minutes every day in 2018. It’s been five days, and I’m already a changed spinner. No kidding. This post is getting long, so I won’t go into all of the particulars, but at least this time, with this fiber, I was able to hear it tell me what it wants to be. I had it all wrong initially. Wrong spindle, wrong gauge, all of it. In fifteen minutes a day, with no goal other than spinning fiber for a short time, I learned that I haven’t been listening. I’m starting to think that with spinning, my goal should simply be to spin, at least for now, and see what happens.
These lines from T. S. Eliot’s Little Gidding keep going through my head:
You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid.
I wonder if sometimes simply showing up where good things have happened before is enough of a goal. I’ll keep you posted.