Thursday, March 02, 2006

Dear Marie

Your collective comments about yesterday's post made me laugh out loud more than once. This is a fun crowd, and I'm delighted you've found your way here.

There was one dissenting comment, though, from reader Marie, which went as follows:
Franklin, I'm horribly disturbed by your answers to those two people.

Outlining the reasons why would most likely only get me flamed by the cheerleading squad. I would like to say that I'm not in sympathy with either J or L and that I think L's tone was way out of line. In my religious and rather republican family, I have been the artist, the black sheep, and the liberal crusader. Once upon a time I would have written a comment just like all the others here.

I have loved your blog and your artwork. It was often the brightest spot in my day. I thought the medal was brilliant. Until today, it was fairly safe to say I was crushing on you just a bit. I don't know if I can be comfortable here now. What would a dignified, balanced, and courteous response have cost you?
I feel inclined to respond to Marie, if she hasn't bailed out already. I welcome all sorts of comments, provided they are civil. As Marie did not use language I consider inappropriate, the polite thing is to answer her.

If I may address the second message first, the message itself was couched in terms which according to the conventions of etiquette render it unworthy of response. If the writer simply had asked me, "Why did you choose to represent an event in which most competitors were women with a male figure?" I would have written a response describing my initial inspiration in the symbols of ancient Greece, where the Olympics were born; and my delight in allegory and symbolism, which I fear in our too-literal age are becoming lost languages.

However, the writer instead used a hostile tone and peppered it with obscenities. The overall effect was less persuasive or thought-provoking than absurd, and so I responded with an absurdity. Enough said.

As to the first message, I was initially inclined to write an apology. After all, I hate the thought of someone doing a lot of knitting and looking forward to the medal, then finding it unusable.

But one thing stopped me.

It was the remark about "how other people live."

J's basic complaint, stripped (forgive me) to its essence is that I have created an indecent image, unsuitable for viewing by children and churchgoers. She then infers, in her final line, that this "indecency" may be fine for those like me, but it will not meet her presumably higher moral standards.

This offended me for two reasons.

First, I do not create indecent works of art. Furthermore, I do not believe works of art can be inherently indecent. Indecency is more often in the mind of the beholder than in the mind of the artist. Ask any Danish political cartoonist.

Myron's Discobolus is a monument of world art, an early manifestation of the civilization that gave us (among other things) our own form of government. I will not countenance the suggestion that it is in any way pornographic. It does not seek to shock or titillate. It celebrates the human form which, if J would care to consult her Bible, is God's own form. In His own image He created them, did He not?

Second, to suggest that my way of life readily encompasses the indecent is a slap in the face. It is indicative of still-pervasive homophobia. Contrary to the beliefs of many, most gay men do not live lives of constant wild abandon. If we are often freer in our discussions of sexuality (and even this is not true of all of us) I attribute it to the fact that we've been forced to think about it a heck of a lot more than straight people and so we're more comfortable with it.

Upon reflection, I did not feel inclined to write an apology where no apology was needed. If J's own morals find the artistic display of the human form* titillating and inappropriate, that is her issue. I will not apologize for my own convictions, and I do not take kindly to suggestions that my own lifestyle is immoral.

I will say that I feel sorry for those like J who are so determined to see obscenity everywhere that they deprive themselves of many of the good and beautiful things that humanity has created.

So, to sum up my response to the first message, I decided it was in its way as insulting and unanswerable as the second. Absurdity deserves absurdity, and it got it. That is my point of view.

So there you are, Marie. I hope that explains it. I honestly felt my responses were perfectly dignified and wholly appropriate, given the nature of the initial communications. If you disagree, we may respectfully agree to disagree. Or you may choose not to read my blog any more, which would be sad, but this is a free country and nothing is easier than to not read what one does not wish to read.

And finally, I hate to think of the people who comment on this blog as a "cheerleading squad." I've never asked them to be that, and I hope they all understand that I don't accept only bouquets of roses.

Now, can we please get back to knitting and photography and the perils of urban life? The sheep are very bored indeed. The subject is closed.

If you want to discuss among yourselves, I'm interested to hear of any tips for spinning with a drop spindle, because I have a beautiful one (thank you forever Mr. and Mrs. Knittiot) which I am, at last, going to begin working with.

Any advice is most welcome. My very first attempts, under the watchful eye of Queer Joe, looked like poo. And I don't mean the teddy bear. Don't hold your breath waiting for pictures.

*A human form which, on the medal, is actually a one inch tall modified electronic rendering of a scan of a photograph of a copy of a marble statue, which is rather different than a Playgirl centerfold.


Anonymous said...

Franklin, my dear - you have to be the most cultured person. Can you BE any more impressive? I think not.

I support you 100% and took Marilyn's suggestion. Michelangelo's David and all his naughty bits are on full display on my blog in support of you (not that you need my support in the least).

Chicago Jen said...

I didn't even see the original comment but, as ususal, you have replied in a gracious and concise manner. Well done, Mr. Franklin.

Anonymous said...

Could I love you more, Mister Franklin?
I seem to ask that every post, and yet, by the next post...

Julie said...

If you haven't already discovered the web site, you might want to try them out. They've got a whopping amount of starter information.

Beyond that, I dunno. I don't spin, I just think about trying to learn to spin. Good luck.

Annie said...

Intelligent & respectable answers. Very interesting subject. I know the subject is closed but I couldn't help but comment (slap me). I could quote almost every paragraph with things I was nodding in agreement. Tis true, if you don't like it, you don't have to read it. Speaking for myself of course, I plan on reading your blog, er, religiously. :-)

Knit-Knot said...

Spindle Spinning tips:

Predraft your fiber. Since using a spindle really requires two hands and drafting really requires two hands you can't do them both at the same time.

Don't attempt to send the spin up a long draft. Even with my wheel I seldom have an open draft of more than a few inches.

Predraft your fiber.

Be careful of overspinning. It weakens the yarn and leads to breakage.

Predraft your fiber.

Be careful of underspinning. It weakens the yarn and leads to breakage.

Predraft your fiber.

It sometimes helps to support your spindle until you get better at judging the amount of spin for the yarn you are making. This will help keep the weight of the spindle from breaking your yarn if it is over/under spun or too fine to support the weight of your spindle.

Predraft your fiber.

Be careful about the spindle reversing or spinning the spindle the opposite direction. Unspinning the fiber is very frustrating.

I hope that these suggestions are useful - although I'm sure you've already heard most of them.

And remember - predraft your fiber.

Anonymous said...


xmasberry said...

what i wanted to say to J, was that nudity does not always equal lewdity (no, that's not a real word, but it rhymes and i had it in a nice equation yesterday so i am rather attached).

While i am one who hates images that use the naked human form for no purpose other than to have a naked person in there, i do believe that the human form is a pretty amazing thing and should be allowed to be beautiful without being cheapened. In no way did i feel that the use of a classic statue, one which accentuated form and movement and balance. cheapened your medal. Does that make sense? Sure, it is a summer sport, but then the ancient games never had winter sports at all, so what can you do? I do feel sad that some people are not allowed to see the beauty of their species and are forced to see that beauty as ugliness instead.

As to spinning, Knitter's Review has a good article on it. Very well written and described.

Aidan said...

Well, what better way to start the morning than to have my views dismissed as chearleading?

Gimme an F!
Gimme an R!
Gimme an A!
Gimme an N!
Gimme an K!
Gimme an L!
Gimme an I!
Gimme an N!

What Does That Spell?

Articulate and diplomatic knitter, photographer, and bon vivant!


There. I feel better now. Nothing like a dose of sarchasm to help you over the hump.

Have a great weekend.

Donna said...

Franklin, I love your blog. I think you handled the comments very very well. I will definately keep coming back.

Anonymous said...

I'm definitely crushing on you. Perhaps even more today. 'nuff said.

As Knit-Knot pointed out so very well, predrafting is important. As a new spindler myself, I also just think it's the kind of thing you need to keep trying. I realize that sounds a rather obvious and unhelpful suggestion, but really, my impression of using a drop spindle so far is that the skill grows with learning the feel of the process and the spindle itself.

Anonymous said...

Not to beat a dead horse, but I think it's the ultimate compliment that with a single piece of artwork you managed to piss off a nutter from the right (Ms. J) and a nutter from the left (Ms. L).

Even funnier, your more-polite-than-they-deserved replies to each of them then somehow pissed off wicked weird Marie.

People like this need to be reminded that this is your blog to manage however you want. They can vote with their feet (or their mouse) if they find the content offensive.

Anonymous said...

First stop, because he seemed to anticipate my question(s) before I even thought of them, is KnitterGuy! (He's got a link to your blog so I'm guessing you already know about him, Franklin.) He suggested pre-drafting the fiber and the use of quills, both of which kept me from getting very frustrated with spindling. He has good photographs so one can see exactly what he's talking about. I'd read his entries about spindling first.

"The Joy of Handspinning" website, More specifically, the drop-spindling video.

As for me, I kept getting very frustrated with the drafting/spinning the spindle/getting the right thickness synchronization and accidentally came up with a temporary solution to my clumsiness. I wanted to make a thin single (strand) to be plied later so it was important for me to draft only small amounts at a time and ensure that I had enough twist. The solution was for me to anchor the fiber in my zippered bag, the fiber extending about an inch from the bag. I then could use my left hand to pull tiny amounts of fiber at a time. Secondly, I didn't really "drop" spindle. I kind of "sideways" spindled. I held the spindle shaft in my right hand and just rotated it sloooooowly so I could watch how much twist was going into the fiber as I slooooowly drafted it. Eventually, I became faster with both the drafting and spinning and am actually "drop" spindling now.

Don't start with Merino, silk or cotton. I think it would have been a good deal easier on me if I'd started with Colonial or Corriedale or mohair (which I love spinning).

Oh, and if you enjoy the feel and beauty of some of the available spindles and spinning wheels, you can head over to Gold Fiber Tools at to see the most beautiful drop spindles and spinning wheels I have ever seen in my entire life.

I hope you'll share what you learn as you go, too. I can use all the tips and tricks I can get to make a better yarn.

Knit-Knot, I love your post! Pre-drafting came as a revelation to me (thanks, KnitterGuy!) but I've found not all fibers need/should be pre-drafted. I guess it depends on the fiber and the thickness you're going for. Still learning, though.

Anonymous said...

OK, OK, I'll sit next to you at the MCA S+B if I HAVE to!!

Unknown said...

David is up on my blog as well.

Beautiful response. It is so terribly sad that people such as these deny themselves the beauty of life. On the other hand, they're fucktards.

I wrote something today especially for you, my darling. To help you through your Wedding Ring scaries. Because it's not so bad, really.

And I thought you were going to Ft. Worth? Or is that this afternoon?

dpaste said...

Sorry Marie.

Anonymous said...

Very clear, concise, well written, and appropriate. Damn, you're my favorite.
(And Marilyn, I know that it's likely that you didn't coin the term, but thanks for reintroducing "fucktard" to my vocabulary. And we know the best way to incorporate it is to use it, often.)
Good luck with the spinning; I have nothing to offer but general good wishes that you enjoy it and it goes well.

the fiddlin' fool said...

If you can drag yourself away from the MCA one of these months, we should meet up at the Windy City Spinning Guild. They're very friendly and helpful, and the first time is free!

Lucia said...

Franklin, I am terribly offended by your reference to sheep. What is this world coming to?

OK, you'll have to slap me too. (And me! And me! And meee!)

As for proper use of a drop spindle, I'm afraid I can't help you. My DH bought me a wheel before I got past the stage of believing that a drop spindle is so called because you drop it on the floor a lot, and there I remain. I'm sure you will master it and can then educate me.

Liz said...

I had a heck of a time when I first started using a drop spindle. No amount of "instruction" seemed to help.

Be prepared that it may take a bit to get your brain, hand, feed, spin in sync and you will suffer broken threads, glooby yarn and dropped spindles all over the place. Please keep at it because there will come a moment when the whole process clicks. I can't really describe it any other way.

I tried for weeks and suddenly went from frustrating, to spinning in under a second. Somehow I just "got it". Practice, practice, practice.

Anonymous said...

I think I mentioned the Joy of Handspinning site to you earlier, and it's indeed very good. Also, when you start off, the "park and draft" method is a good idea...allows you to figure out what you're doing with the drafting without having to keep an eye on the spindle spinning.

But nothing beats watching someone and practising under the tutelage of one who's mastered the art. I thought I was doing well until I stood next to Sheila Bosworth at a fibre festival and just watched. New perspective on what "doing well" actually looks like. If you ever get the chance to visit the Bosworth booth at a festival, do it. She's a marvel.

Don't cave to a wheel before you've had a chance to get comfy with a spindle, I say. It really makes you look carefully at how one makes yarn, in a way that zooming with a wheel does not. Process-oriented, for certain. And spindled laceweight is awesome (Ted can testify to that :-) ).

Eventually, you don't need two hands to work the spindle and two hands to draft. (Last I checked, I do not have four hands. Too bad ;-)) One hand holds the draft, one hand controls the spindle and travels from spindle to draft and back. Keep an eye on both. Good luck!

Oh, and you rock. Rah rah. The pom poms have been shaken in your general direction. Have fun makin' yarn, sugar :-)

Maggie said...

I was going to jump in on the drop spindle discussion, but it appears all the really good hints have been made. I think the most frustrating part for me was coming to the realization that I probably wasn't going to be able to spin perfect yarn within 15 minutes of picking up the spindle. It took me another two days to realize that I was spinning yarn I paid really good money for at my LYS. It's also very important to be very, very patient. It's a slow, involved, fascinating process, but in this day and age when you can just run out and buy the "perfect" yarn, I think there has to be a certain amount of love there too. I would like to add I thought it was stupid until I bought my first "nice" spindle, a light-weight Kundert top-whorl. Of course now I have my wheel and it is sadly neglected in my roving basket... how fickle of me! Good luck and I look forward to your posts on learning to drop spindle!

p.s. I love the "knit naked" idea.

Liz said...

Oh, my first yarn on the drop spindle was Lincoln.

Will Pillage For Yarn said...

Franklin, I appreciate the thought process, thank you for sharing.

I think probably the very best way you can learn and improve is to spin every day. My own spinning got noticeably more even once I started devoting even a little time to it on a daily basis. I guess that's the case with most things, really. You've probably already covered things like predrafting your fiber and prep work. It's worth the extra few minutes before you start. Don't worry if you are spinning, then parking the spindle to draft and let the twist up as you go, we all start that way. It gradually shifts and soon you'll be spinning and drafting - your body has to make a sense memory before it becomes automatic. Kind of like driving a stick shift. Go spin with other people as much as you can, you'll learn so much more quickly in the company of others. Most of the tiny refinements to my spinning technique came from those lightbulb moments when I'd watch another spinner break something down for me. I would not have been able to grasp plying alone, for example, but once I saw it, it was possible.

All first yarn looks like poo. It's still yours, and that moment of, "OMG, there is YARN and I made it." is one of the finer ones a knitter can have.

Mel said...

Since others have already recommended the Joy of Handspinning site, I'll just add my ditto to what they said. Same for predrafting. I've had my best results with wool that I combed then predrafted using a diz. That level of preparation takes time, but it did make for a nicer end product.

As for type of fiber, I would say that most spinners' recommendations probably apply for most people, but I found that I had an easier time learning on alpaca than with wool. My partner, David, said that he didn't "get it" until he tried spinning with silk. Both of those have longer staple lengths, though, and require more twist than wool. I think what it ultimately comes down to is getting to know the characteristics of the fiber you're working with - staple length, crimp, etc. Most of all, make sure you have fun with it.

Anonymous said...

you have got to check this out:

Anonymous said...

...adding my voice to the cheering.

As for spinning, what has been mentioned is good. I also vouch for the predrafting into much thinner strips. This allows you to get more of an overall feel of the process while not having to "fight" the fiber while drafting into the twist.

Park and Draft: Once your fiber is attached to the leader, pinch at the point where drafted fiber enters into the twist, spin the spindle, stop it, release your pinch, and watch/feel how the fiber takes the twist up into itself. It's like you are storing up some of the energy to be sent into the fiber once you release. And your separating out into steps something that you will be able to do together, eventually.

These things have all been mentioned, though, by previous posters. Sometimes it helps to gather various explanations of the same process.

Once your brain is used to the new set of motions and sensations, it'll click and you'll be spinning happily away.

Anonymous said...

What, no hotlink to the "Playgirl centrefold"?

Beware the wheel, it's a slippery slope...

Anonymous said...

well said, you sir, are a gentleman and a scholar.

Anonymous said...

Franklin, I am so delighted to hear that you are finding some time for the drop spindle. I know others have mentioned all of these tips, but repetition of good advice is always useful.

1.) Predraft, predraft, predraft

2.) Park-and-draft to begin with (Is this also called the inch-worm method? Other more knowledgeable spinners may know the answer to that.)

3.) I started drop spindling with a tencel/merino blend and while it wasn't easy, it wasn't impossible, so spin with whatever fiber you like and choose something that feels good in your hand -- it makes it more enjoyable.

4.) Come to Maryland Sheep and Wool and we'll really get you in over your head by helping you select your first wheel (I know, I'm evil)

5.) Relax and enjoy yourself. Read a lot. Watch others. It will come so naturally to you.

Anonmous said...


In support of your measured and dignified response to the haters of the world, I offer the tasteful female nude, Sandro Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus" from 1482 over on my side. For you visitors, mine is the link on Frank's Blogroll under "they knit not" as Buzz

I encourage all visitors with blogs to post something tastful in defense of the advancement of the arts.

Sweazey said...

10 out of 10, Franklin!
And about the spinning, I know you like lace, so don't be impatient but I've noticed it took me a year to get below 17 wraps per inch spinning (granted all my fleece is what others have discarded), but I think it takes quite awhile to get the thinness you would like along with regularity. Also you have to ply it to get good lace. I did a shawl with my thick-thin around Christmas. It was when I was just getting good enough to go thin, but couldn't maintain the size well. The singles shawl turned out nice overall, but I know how fragile it may be...just in spots, but when you knit lace one spot is an ocean to mend! So just keep practicing, it took me a year spinning to get thin consistently. And I spun every day. I suggest what I did, spin on the spindle and also on the wheel, but note the differences between them and use them alternately to improve whatever part of the process you are trying to upgrade. For instance consistency or thinness or drafting. Oh and for the predrafting noted previously, if you are very new to spinning what some people do is buy some pencil roving because it is already drafted and you just have to watch the twist part of your spinning and it isn't so many things to concentrate on at once. Other people have used plain commercial yarn and just feeding it in with a bit more twist they got the feel for spinning, then moved on to the roving. Have fun. Thanks for your blog, I'm an admirer also!

gina said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
gina said...

Sorry, previous post had URL cut off.

You definitely need one of these David buttons. Up with sculptural nudity!

Anonymous said...

Well said, Franklin! I have nothing helpful to add about spinning [just not ready to go there, yet!] But, I thought you should know that my two children thought the gold medal was very cool. So did I. Keep sharing your exceptional imagination!

Carol said...

Well, I for one find all this discussion about people watching other people's hands slide up and down shafts to be OBSCENE.

(So I'll definitely keep coming back.)

Anonymous said...

Lighten up, folks, this was supposed to be fun. Franklin, I love your metal, it made me smile. It's clever and classically Olympian all at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... one of the commenters and some of my spinning friends have emphasized the importance of pre-drafting, but truly, I've found that pre-drafting is more of a hassle for me, and that it causes the fibers to be *too* loose for my taste.

The best advice I can give you on drop spindling is two-fold:

1) Enjoy it for what it's worth. For me, my experience with the drop spindle was just enough for me to know that I would love spinning, and that I needed to get a wheel, stat. It can be awful and clumsy, and but that doesn't necessarily mean spinning isn't for you, just maybe that a drop spindle isn't the way to go.

2) I seem to remember spinning the spindle, securing it with my feet, and then using the fingers on my right hand pinch the twist up to the top. Somehow, securing it with my feet made things easier. Don't be afraid to forge your own techniques, no matter how weird it may seem to the people teaching you. :)

Good luck, and I hope we have another one in the spinning fold soon!


Miss Tonia said...

This is the first time I have read your blog, and I must say - Bravo! It still amazes me, that in this day and age, that some people can still be that closed minded. I completely enjoy reading your bloag, and will do so daily, from now on.

TurnipToes said...

That is a great, well thought-out response and well dignified.

And Franklin is going to Fort Worth!? I live only less that one hour from there. Did I miss the Franklin appearance schedule? I may swoon.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Franklin! Could I just get you to write one little letter for me to my mother in law....?


Others here have reminded you to be patient with yourself while you learn to spin. The one thing my beginning spinning teacher told us that stuck in my head more than any other is, "There is no such thing as a bad yarn."

All yarns are good and fun: it's just our challenge to find the right application for them.

Jasmine said...

Dear Franklin, this is why I love your blog. You are observant, interesting and talented and funny. Best of all is your intelligent analysis and writing.

Lanea said...

I always love your posts and your art, but today you brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for defending high art; culture; allusion; symbolism; history; the beauty of the human form; free speech; ettiquette; the honest to goodness GOODNESS of love, and even and lust (whomever feels it); and your own lovely self.

Now, to the hand-spinning. Alden Amos's book is probably the best reference you'll find. It's amazing. Many spinners will demand that you use a certain fiber or spindle type to learn with--ignore them. Take your time, draft and pre-draft carefully, because it will give you wonderful results, and spin as much as you can, because that's what will really teach you to spin. I know you'll do well.

Anonymous said...

Y'all have helped me make up my mind- I need to learn how to knit. What a great group of people. But, gosh darn it, the thought of walking into a yarn shop here in little ol' st paul is terribly intimidating because I'm a guy. Franklin has already told me that telling the ladies in the store that it's "for a friend" is much too transparent. Oh, well, I'll get over it and join you all in the knitting pool soon.

Anonymous said...

Please don't waste your time with a drop spindle. They are only good for kindling.

Valerie said...

The only advice I have to add about the drop spindle is to remember that it is a drop spindle. If you have hardwood floors and live above your landlord, it is a good idea to practice over the rug, not the hardwood floor over which your landlord obsesses.

Oh, and be prepared to start saving up for a wheel.

Anonymous said...

SPIN to the RIGHT -
PLY to the LEFT!
(No one told me this. I found out, the hard way, during plying. Cripes.)

Pre-draft a bit, but not too much that you wind up with very transparent spots. This be bad.

Joining - When you break,(and youwill) and it drops, untwist about an inch from the end still attached to the spindle. Wriggle/mash it (not what the books tell you) into the roving you wish to join, twist it a bit with your fingers before dropping the spindle again.

I drop-spindled for a year before I bought a wheel (ahem...the wheel just came today, and is in a box resting next to my desk here at work. I will not be recieving callers this evening, no matter which way their cards are turned.) I agree that sticking with drop-spindling will make you a MUCH better wheel-spinner when you get there. And you will. ;-)

I need a blog for the David button. Dang.

Anonymous said...

I am de-lurking to respond to your absolutely ridiculous critics.

What I think is most hilarious about "J"'s naked figure comment is that a huge majority of past actual olympic medals feature naked men. I went on where you can see photos of past years.

Luckily, you didn't copy London in 1908 or Stockholm in 1912 because their medals had naked men with full-frontal nudity. Actual penises for God's sake. "J" would have surely been hospitalized after she saw something like that! Some of them show Nike and although she's not naked, her nipples sure are prominet. In 1924, the medal from Paris shows two naked men holding hands, which surely would have been the end of "J"'s world as she knows it.

As for the gender issue, I would think that anyone who participated in this knit-a-long would understand that your design is very much in keeping with the olympic tradition. Do you think that Dorothy Hammill was pissed because there was a man on her gold medal? Please don't think that all women (even feminists) pay attention to every little detail like this. Again....people are just insane.

If "J" is still reading your comments and responses, I wish she'd answer something that I find curious. If one of her ancestors had won one of these olympic medals, would she not show it to anyone at her church? Her whole comment was insane!!!!

Well. Those are my two cents. Please don't listen to the comical comments of crazy people.

Ashley said...

Personally... I'm not a big fan of my drop spindle. I learned to do it completely wrong, but what I did worked for me and produced decent yarn. After spinning 2 (3 oz) balls of roving I purchased a spinning wheel. I like things to move quickly, and the constant need to stop with the drop spindle drove me simply mad.

Spinning's great though, I wish I had more hours in the day.

Karen said...

Thanks for that well-thought-out and beautiful explanation, Franklin. (Besides, it's not even like you can see any dangly bits! How disappointing is that? ;->)

Anonymous said...

Dear Franklin,

Drop spindling - as noted before, be careful where you spin; the yarn WILL break, your spindle will hit the floor; if you are careful to spin while standing on carpeted floors, your spindle will not break. To start, a long-staple wool, or maybe mohair - something that will stick to itself a little and not slide all to hell (OOPS! I SAID A BAD WORD!!). Yes, The Joy of Handspinning is a great website - it taught me to Navaho ply - check it out. Absolutely pre-draft the fiber, and wind it loosely around your hand so that it doesn't get caught in your drafting triangle. Spin-Off had an article on how to make your own wrist distaff with a macrame technique (sounds butt-ugly but actually, it's rather nice looking, with pretty beads on the ends), if you're interested, post in the comments, and I'll look up which issue it was in. BWAHAHAHA - now that you're hooked on spinning, you'll end up with a wheel (or 6, not that I'm counting mine).

Anonymous said...

Well said, Franklin.

I'm a big fan of the "off" switch as a form of censorship: if Marie doesn't like nudity, homosexuality or anything not condoned by conservative christianity, don't read this (or any other interesting) blog.

Speaking of which, Monica ( regularly uses a drop spindle and may have some words of wisdom. If you search her archives she may have posted about it in the past.

Anonymous said...

Drop spindles - I've read that often a small, light one is easier to learn with.
"First yarn" - Save it; if you don't like it, someone else might. I've read people's comments that they love the irregularity and once they learn to spin evenly, they can't deliberately make irregular yarn any more.
Pre-Drafting: I've read that wool roving has a direction (because hair has scales); if it doesn't spin well in one direction, try reversing it.
(You can tell I wiped out at spinning. I'd rather knit.)

Anonymous said...

My dearest Franklin, Once again, you make me proud (as a gay man) to have you as one of our own. But then again, I feel you'd make any group you were part of proud! I can only speak for myself, but I feel you make the world a much more pleasant & tolerable place. Wish I still lived in Chicago so we could be friends. Oh hell, I feel like we're friends already.

Anonymous said...

Could we have a manners cheerleader cartoon some day?

Carol said...

My number one tip for the drop spindle: throw it away and buy a wheel.

Elemmaciltur said...

Just before the topic is really closed: *throws on pom-poms and cheer Franklin on* Very well put. I wish I could become as eloquent and clear as you when writing up something like that.

Don't know about spinning, so I can't really help you on that. :)

Anonymous said...

As singer Rick Nelson put it many years ago:

"Well it's all right now,
Learned my lesson well,
See you can't please everyone,
So you gotta please yourself."

NEVER apologize and never surrender your gentlemanly qualities, Franklin. It's what makes you special.

Now to order a nekkid dancing sheep sweatshirt...

Anne Marie

Anonymous said...

Oh, to be as eloquent as you...

I'm learning to spin on a drop spindle too, and although it took a lot of frustration for it to click, now that it has it's FUN!

Cheryl said...

As a drop spidle newbie myself, I say go ahead and take pictures of your early efforts. Your non-fiber friends will be amazed at even the most pitiful, lumpy yarn. Yarn, like hot dogs, is one of those things most people think suddenly appeared fully-formed on the shelf at WalMart.

Anonymous said...

That is a very interesting and respectful account of your thinking behind your responses. Hurray for you.
PS I'm riveted by the new (to me) fact that one conveys messages by turning over corners of the calling card. Fascinatingly useless as most enjoyable facts are. (Is a spanner interesting, I ask myself to prove the point?)

Anonymous said...

(Before I get dismissed as a member of the cheerleading squad, well, I'm not. Just landed here tonight for the 1st in a long time, and never commented here before. So, Marie, am I allowed to disagree with you now?)

Amazing how some people just look for reasons to get offended. If anything, Franklin, you were extraordinarily polite to all 3.

To emailer #1 - does this person (& her children) not bathe buck nekkid? Taken an art class? Gone to a museum? Opened a book on the Renaissance?

To emailer #2 - for someone who obviously considers herself to be openminded, well, you ain't. Try again.

To emailer #3: Please, explain to me what Franklin owed those two emailers. This (metaphorically) is his home. He invites us in, and we repay the favor by not acting like jackasses.

elisabetha said...

dear marie, we are no cheerleading squad, but Franklin is indeed a gentleman through and through.

Anonymous said...

Naked??? Am I the only one who can't see the horrific, blinding, office-and-church-offending nakedness??

Anonymous said...

That's awesome - how could a person possibly consider the Knitting Olympics medal to be obscene? I find this truly puzzling.

But just to be accomodating, I made a censored version of the medal, for those who object to the original.

I find it amusing that you have duelling complainers. If you were to accomodate dissenter #1 by using a female statue, then dissenter #2 would freak out because of VISIBLE BOOBIES.

Megan said...

On the perils of urban living (and knitting): I took the bus home from the library today because we got too many books to carry the one measly mile home (it's those damn picture books!) Anyway, it was middle-school dismissal time, which usually means a miserable bus ride, but I whipped out my knitting and had a crowd of the young hooligans interested enough to watch and talk about their knitting aunties and grandmas. A definite improvement over their usual behavior for sure! Love the medal -- wish I'd earned one!

Jean said...

Dear Franklin,

Until I read this latest post, I honestly thought you had made up the offending emails, to create a field for your glorious replies. There's nowt as queer as folk.

Love, Jean

Lady Wyvern said...

Drop Spindle?? Oh franklin, darling, let us venture this path together. I just got one when I adopted my sheep and It seemed a portable method contrary to my wheel.
The drop spindle makes me feel dumb. really dumb.
I get the concept.
Did I mention it makes me feel dumb?

Flossie in Stitches said...

Ah Franklin, I wish I could be as articulate and dignified as you. And as handy with PhotoShop :o)

I've just bought some mohair roving and am looking to acquire a drop spindle, so I will be very interested to see how you get on the spinning. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

First, apologies to all the “cheerleaders.” I knew that word would make trouble. I don’t think you’re mindless; I just know how strongly people prefer to be supportive. It can be very hard in blogland to disagree with anybody, even politely.

It took almost an hour that night for me to decide to write a critical comment. Frankly, I was quaking in my shoes. I knew people would misinterpret my complaint, I knew I would be characterized as something I’m not. This mostly did not happen, for which I am grateful. However, for the record, I’m rather fond of nudity in all its forms, am the enemy of conservative Christianity, and in years past have destroyed many a family occasion by arguing for gay rights, sexual freedom, and funding for uncensored creative expression. Also, I don’t think Franklin “owes” critics anything. I was just stunned by what he did. I guess I never thought it was his style. As for being called “weird wicked Marie”, I am delighted. Most people find me very straight and very dull. The only other people who find me weird and wicked are members of my conservative and ultra-Christian family. I read stuff like this blog, you know.

Franklin, doll, if we can agree to disagree intelligently and politely, all is well. I love a pointed conversation. I think perhaps you read too much into the first commenter’s phrasing. (The second one was inexcusable.) I also think that the arbiters of etiquette would never have advised such replies, no matter what the provocation. That is all. Please let us be friends. I would really miss your dancing sheep, especially any naked ones.

Patti said...

I loved your responses and manor of handling them. As for drop spindling, mainly just keep practicing. If your time is limited it is best if you can get in a small amount of time every day rather than large chunks once a week or so. You will find you improve faster and your hands will remember it easier. Also if you are around another spinner or two they can offer advice and you will find what works for you. Thant and other advice I see you have been getting. Good luck!

Annie said...

"God save us from the irony-impaired," Leonard Pitts.

Carol said...

While I am still having a lot of trouble understanding what was so "stunning" about Franklin's response, I think we should respect his desire to move on to more interesting topics.

While on the spinning subject, I'll offer my own personal, newbie spinner observation that the kind of wool you use makes a huge difference in the beginning. Some wools seem to spin so much more effortlessly than others, so getting a few different choices is always a good idea. Also, pick up the book In Sheep's Clothing, which just was reissued, if you're interested in lots of in-depth knowledge about wools and sheep breeds.

Debbi said...

Marie said: I think perhaps you read too much into the first commenter’s phrasing.

Well, Marie, we're going to have to agree to disagree as well, because what Franklin read into that comment was what I read, as well. It was offensive, plain and simple. And, by the way, I am a straight, middle-aged and don't comment unless something really moves me to do so. That – and your dismissive remark – did.

Aidan said...

No one is better than me at flash-flaming when given a spark and a breeze -- I was once a professional incendiary -- fanning the fires of political discourse. I loved that part of my job, and miss it.

But I don't want this fire to burn out of control. I don't want Marie to feel uncomfortable here. And I don't think Franklin would, either. (Of course if he really cared, he wouldn't have gone off galavantin' with a few hundred sweaty cowboys...but that's a totally post!)

Anyway, I third or fourth the suggestion we move on to more interesting knitting. (Alas, I have no drop spindle...I have no wheel...I have not the context to know what is this predrafting of which you speak..I am just poor village boy...)

OK, this is just getting bad. Glad you are still here, Marie. And like my friend Bill says, keep coming back.

Anonymous said...

Well put, Franklin.

"dropping a spindle"? that sounds painful. Back to knitting.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Franklin, they were just a couple of eejit twits. I think I'm with Marie on your replies though. You gave them far more energy than either of them deserved. I think ignoring the two would have been better. Or just putting up a statement that you are pleased and proud that so many people liked your medal design. Anyone who doesn't is, of course, free to design one they do like.

It's good to see you have your equilibrium back again.

Can't help you with the spinning. It's a fiber skill I lack. I'm looking forward to following your progress in mastering it.

Micky said...

I think your medal is beautiful. It is a great work of art. I hope next year (oh you know we will all do this again then), I will be able to show it proudly on my blog.

Rabbitch said...

Just as a matter of interest, do most gay women lead lives of constant wild abandon?

I ask merely for interest. No, really.

Answer fast. okbye.

Aidan said...

I'm wondering, though, what your medal for the Gay Games is going to look like -- they are in Chicago this summer.

Are we going to Knit Gay as well? I never pass up an opportunity to knit. Though I'm not going to use novelty yarns and you can't make me.

But if some wonderful friend hand-spun some fingering....

BertandFelix said...

Mr. Franklin,

I think Aidan said it best...I wonder what the medal for the gay games will look like? LOL!!!

I have never posted to you before but this time I HAVE to. Just remember that some people are plain crazy and see things that aren't really there.

Cheerleader? Humm...never liked cheerleaders...but I guess I am. I would rather be called a sheep though. :)!

Keep up the great blog!!!

Anonymous said...

The Gold knitting Olympic medal IS fab - it takes me back to my schooldays, Miss Barrie and Classical Studies.
While we were all yawning (it was a Scottish state school!) , learning about Greek and Roman mythology, Miss Barrie bless her , would be waxing lyrical (enthusing) about these virile Greek and Roman men. The boys would be making rude gestures and the girls would be writing their favourite bands on the school jotters. jings I'm getting old.

I guess the two "ladies" (I use this term euphemistically - did I spell that correctly) did not have the benefits of a "Classical" education, otherwise they would not have written what they did.
I guess that J doesn't look at the picture of our Saviour naked on the cross.
And as for the language L used - well its back to school for you dearie, foul language shows a lack of English vocabulary!
Dearie me - I'm turning into Miss Jean Brodie.
PS - That wonderful cartoon you drew with the person looking like their knitting and vice versa, THATS ME, well not me obviously, but it sure looks like me.

beadlizard said...

Franklin, do you have a wrist distaff? My 13yo dd is an avid spindler of silk (try Nancy Finn's Chasing Rainbows bombyx) on her Bosworths and she pre-drafts into pencil roving and wraps it with a half twist loosely around her wrist. My best friend is also a spindler and wraps her fiber around a wrist distaff. It does free up a hand and keep the fiber tidy.

My mom and I took a drop spindle course decades ago. She spun perfect yarn within 5 minutes. A hulking large machinist whose aunt had given him a cherry wood spindle produced exquisite laceweight within a minute. It was a miracle.

It took me five days of perpetual frustration with a spindle to get passable yarn, but after that everything was a breeze. New fibers, other spindles, different yarn styles -- each took some practice and experimentation, then clicked. When I did start spinning on a wheel, it was a smooth transition.

We all have different learning curves and strengths. Even if you end up not becoming a spinner, learning to spin will do wonders for your knitting because of raising your consciousness and understanding of fiber types, yarn structure, and quality.

I agree with the comments about choosing excellent fiber for learning (Corriedale). You can slog with mucky fiber later, if ever, but save yourself a lot of grief by learning on the best.

I also agree that SEEING someone spin is enlightening and fun. And a second for Alden's Big Book, too. You should see *him* spin!!! --Sylvia

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Franklin and Marie, for your courteous "arguing". You prove that you can discuss things without resorting to name-calling. That aside, I have looked and looked for any sign of naughty bits. What am I missing?

Anonymous said...

oh dear, slippery slope your on there...last year was drop spindle for me, this year, well...i'm expecting my first wheel (and i know which one will be my second). and never mind my road trips to sheep farms. you'll see...

Corbie said...

Not that you need another comment on the subject, but this whole to-do reminds me of an old Zen story, found here, under the title "Carrying the Woman".

Indeed, obscenity is in the mind of the beholder. I think your nonsequitur answer was exactly what the comment deserved -- answer the absurd with the absurd.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! Followed a link here from Making Light, and I rather admired your responses.

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little said...

In contrast to some advice posted upthread, I spin to the LEFT and ply to the RIGHT just to be a rebel.

And also because the resulting thread doesn't unwind during a backwards-loop or long-tail cast-on.

Is there some scary downfall waiting for me and my counterclockwise spin, like my knitting falling apart later on or my getting tried for witchcraft?

Anonymous said...

A random thought on drop-spindles:

For at least 90% of the part of human history where humans used spun threads, and clothes made from spun threads, it was all done with drop spindles.

The drop spindle is a strange and exotic tool now, but for most of history, it was a basic skill that just about everyone mastered. The difference is, back then, you learned it early, as a child, surrounded by other people who knew and used the skill. As automatic as holding a pencil is for people today.

On the other hand, reading and writing, which all of us here do with ease, is something that was far beyond the grasp of those who saw a drop spindle as ordinary.

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