A year ago, during the Tour de Fleece (Ravelry link), I started spinning Romney locks on my Peruvian spindle. Now, thirteen full months later, I finally have two spindles full and can start winding a plying ball. I've been posting progress shots periodically, feeling proud when the cops are growing on the spindles, and guilty/lazy when they sit around neglected due to brighter, shinier projects.
Because of course it didn't take me a year to spin this yarn. I don't know how long it really took, in hours, but when I put my mind to it, I could add a significant girth to the cop in one afternoon.
If I were herding sheep in the Andes, walking in the mountains all day alone or with friends, and spinning only this project, I'm sure it would have been done in maybe a week. But it languished, partly because it was just that much more difficult than my other spins. I adored the way this Romney felt in the lock after washing, and it fluffed up so nicely with hand-picking, I just decided to spin it like that: hand-prepped, one little cloud at a time. That's not very demanding, but since I wanted the yarn to be suitable for backstrap weaving, I knew it also needed to be smooth and firm, with as little fuzziness as possible. The places where different lengths of fiber joined tended to fuzz up, so I found myself wrangling tiny bits of fiber to try to keep the yarn smooth - and this is what led me to put the spindles down so often. But this is also why I spin, to get better, to learn from the fiber and the tools. I'm still hoping the lesson wasn't supposed to be that this fiber doesn't work for this project! After plying, we'll see how backstrap-friendly my yarn is - and it can't be worse than what I was weaving with a year or two ago, anyway.
My inordinate pride in the two full spindles reminds me of being in Qatar with Umm Hamad, when she was plying yarn one day. She had made massive plying balls, wound in courses, and after loosely plying (loose because the yarn would be dyed,) the spindle was hugely full. I was trying to catch a photo of this cop which must have weighed a couple of pounds, but she hardly paused before winding it back off into a skein for dyeing. She was just doing what she does: spin, ply, skein, dye, weave - and had no need to show off how much she'd done at any given stage. It was one of those moments (need to coin a good name for them) when I realize the true difference between my spinning and traditional production spinning. I get all excited about a single full spindle, and for handspinners in Arabia, Ladakh or the Andes, it's just a step, not a celebration. This is probably the case for many of my online spinning friends as well, who are way more productive than I am - they just fill the thing and move on. However, the large number of photos from different stages of the process speaks to our general excitement about getting spinning accomplished.
On the one hand, my production may be pitiful, but on the other I'm privileged to have the option of spinning for pleasure and intentional learning, and I'm grateful to be able to celebrate a full cop or two.