Do you have new year’s resolutions or goals for your knitting or spinning? At the start of this new year, I asked my spinning students to set some BIG goals for the next eight weeks of spinning classes. “Bucket List”-type goals for their own spinning improvement. Things like, “oh, over the next eight weeks, I’d like to dye and spin enough fibre to knit a garment” or “I’d like to get really good at spinning low twist soft singles” or “I want to process a raw fleece from start to finish“. I gave all the students a comprehensive list of 80 topics a spinner might be interested in studying, so that they would have some ideas that might inspire them.

This idea for setting spinning goals spawned from the aching desire to experience more progression in my passions and interests. I see it in myself and others, so I thought it would be great to address the issue head on. Since 2010, I’ve been trying to teach myself to play the guitar. After three years, I know my chords and can strum my way through some easy chord progressions, but still can’t remember the notes on the fretboard and definitely can’t sing along with my playing. When I sit down to play, I end up kind of noodling around and not getting anywhere. Likewise, I’ve been snowboarding since 2006 and I remember pushing myself through a huge learning curve in the first two or three years, but now, I’ve fallen into the groove of doing easy laps around my favourite runs.

It happens with spinning too. You know, you fall into the habit of always spinning your “default” yarn. Or you pick up a dyed fiber and spin it straight from one end to the other, without thinking. This year, I want to push the boundaries of all my interests.

Here are some things that might help you with your own goals:

Breaking your goals into manageable chunks

I tend to write ridiculously HUGE things on my to-do list like “Knit sweater” or “Redesign website” (heh heh) and then they are so daunting that I just push them off to the next day and the next day. With a big spinning goal, you can break it down by week: one week to choose the fibre blend and/or dye the colours, one week to spin a sample yarn and get gauge, one week to spin two bobbins of singles, one week to ply, etc. It’s allowed me to get over that initial hump of “how the heck am I going to get this done?”

Spinning with other people

One way I’ve been trying to improve my snowboarding is to ride with really good skiers. They are FAST. (And they tend to stop in flat areas that are so incredibly unfriendly to snowboarders.) It forces you to keep up and push yourself. The same thing happens when you spin with others! Belonging to a spinning group or guild is the best case scenario. Everyone in my current spinning class is at a slightly different skill level, some with years of experience and others who are relatively new. But seeing what everyone else is making and being inspired by each person’s handspun and abilities pushes us all to try new and different things. Just recently I stumbled upon the unbelievably inspiring handspun photos of Micki (thing4string) and Monika (SmokingHotNeedles) and it makes me want to buy an electric spinner and spin a boatload of three-ply yarns.

Dedicated time

One of the most prolific spinners I know, Grace V, is also new-ish spinner, having spun her first skein in January 2011. Since then she’s already spun nearly 80 skeins of yarn! That’s one new skein every 9.1 days! She shared with me that she gets up two hours earlier every morning to squeeze an hour of spinning and an hour of knitting into each day. It is how she somehow manages to turn out the most gorgeous handspun and knitted projects on a weekly basis! Every time I see Grace, she’s wearing at least one fabulous and brand new handmade item. The secret is to dedicate time to your craft. I need to see my time as sacred too, otherwise I too easily fritter it away with email or Pinterest or, heaven forbid, cleaning the house.

Schacht Matchless at the window, with bundles of fibre

Schacht Matchless at the window, with bundles and bundles of fibre

So for my 8-week spinning goals, I’m working on doing a colour study and spinning at least six skeins that demonstrate the variations that can happen with combining colours and fibre blends. I have two skeins done so far, and it’s only suggested to me that there are so many other variations I can try! I’ve broken down my colour study into chunks so that I can make my way through a lot of spinning. And I’m trying to get up earlier in the morning to spin, and sometimes even get to watch the sunrise as I spin.

Do you feel like your spinning (or knitting) is constantly improving? How do you push yourself to progress all the time?