1 In Insight

Xiane’s Story: how I became elbow deep in wool

cat on knitted blankey

I smile more when spinning when the sun's not in my eyes.

I smile more when spinning when the sun's not in my eyes.

How did I become a Fiber Artist?

I get asked this question a LOT! I figured that telling the story here would be fun and educational for those of you whom I’ve not *yet* met.

Before I was spinning yarns, I was spinning tunes as a radio and club DJ. [And this is why I name most of my fiber and yarns after music lyrics or titles!] I’d moved back to Baltimore to spend some time with my Mom after the death of my stepfather – and I was, quite rightly, stressed out to the max over all the sudden changes. I decided that I needed a relaxing hobby to help me through this time, and as I walked around a craft store, the idea of learning to knit jumped out at me.

I chose a soft, thick, red wool blend yarn and fat bamboo needles. I knew that I didn’t want metal or plastic needles or cheap yarn – I wanted the most pleasant tactile sensations possible.

I pulled up videos, printed out instructions, and went to it. After telling Aurora – my DJ partner/co-promoter at our club night – about my attempts, we decided to start a knitting thing during the opening hours of the night, when things were slow.


I was a knitter for a year or so before my brain drifted to the idea of a drop spindle. I was beginning to realize that I while liked knitting, what I LOVED was touching the yarn. And the idea of being part of such an ancient tradition really appealed, too.

I ordered my first real drop spindle from the delightful Castle Fibers on Etsy, and I obtained a bunch of pretty wool to go with it. I used the ubiquitous online videos again to get me started – and it clicked immediately. I was making pretty damn good yarn on my first try!

first skein with x

Obviously, I was hooked.

It didn’t take long before I was spinning more than I could ever knit. so I decided to start selling it in my Etsy shop. I built a demand for my wares, and eventually it was time to step up production – and I knew just the way. Enter: Genevieve!

Painting a wheel: in progress

Let me state up front for the record: learning wheel spinning was not the same experience as learning spindling. In fact, there was a good two-week learning curve for me. The challenge was getting myself coordinated – hands, feet, and wheel. Now I know to start with some commercial yarn on the bobbin at first, to get treadling without having to draft at the same time… that’s how I start my students off, even. No – I was trying to do it all at once.

I got very inventive with my curse words.

However, when it finally clicked, it was a complete joy to work with my wheel. Not only was I capable of producing more yarn at one go, as bobbins hold more than a spindle, but I was more willing to try new techniques. I had two hands free at all times to play with the wool.

I still love my drop spindles, though. Much less expensive to collect than wheels, for sure! I like to tuck one in my bag for situations where I think I’ll be waiting around, or where I might feel the drag of having idle hands. Yes, that’s a big deal for me! I have a bunch of different styles of spindles, and I’ll make another post soon showing them off and explaining the differences in them, because there’s a lot to tell.

In fact, because I know you want more, I’ll be making a series of posts in the immediate future about my equipment and how I do what I do. If there’s anything in particular you’d like to hear about, make a comment below and I’ll do my best to tell you all about it!

cat on knitted blankey

My first knitted thing became Squeegee Cat's favourite blanket.

Get exclusive content from Xiane on Patreon
Become a patron at Patreon!

You Might Also Like

1 Comment

  • Reply
    August 3, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    Such a cool thing to read about! I’d love to see more about the spindles. I still need to learn to use mine before we leave.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.