Not for the faint of leg

Want to lose weight and firm up the leg muscles—and, by extension, the glutes? Take up spinning. Who spins? A lot of folks do. It’s a rewarding and challenging activity. Know somebody who’s got sheep? Get some free fleece; get a spinning wheel, and take a class at the local fiber arts center. Then, treadle away and watch as fleece or cotton becomes yarn. The treadling will firm up the leg muscles.

My first yarn came from freebie fleece obtained from the local petting zoo. The wool is rather coarse, either through over-washing or the very nature of the fleece itself. The sheep? Who knows what breed they are. The folks at the petting zoo didn’t. The fleeces (two and a quarter, one brown, one gray, the quarter white) were as dirty as the sheep could get them, chock full of grass, dirt, bugs, fecal matter, and urine. Then there was that wonderful sheep-smelling lanolin.

It was the work of several hot days to scour, wash, and dry the fleece. The scouring took longer than the washing and drying for I came to this fiber art a novice. A retractable thin-wire doggie brush served to flick considerable dirt out of the fleece. That done, a big old soap bucket full of hot water and some Dawn was the repository for soaking flicked fleece. Clean and clear water swiftly became brown. A quick pour out on the driveway, a refill, another soaking. Then the rinsing in more hot water. Once, twice, enough. Hot sun shone down upon newly washed fleece spread out on an old door screen laid flat on the driveway. The fleece dried quickly and blew hither and thither carried by a mischievous wind.

The debris and dead bugs which remained in the fleece throughout the washing and drying went swiftly in the carding and spinning. Well, most of them. A few bits of debris remained in the twists of the thinly spun yarn.

The treadling, ah, the treadling. The joy of a single treadle wheel is that either foot can work the treadle. Right calf muscle getting tired? Shift to the left foot and keep treadling. Turn sideways, face the wheel, turn again, keep treadling, for as you treadle you have the joy of creating yarn from scratch. That joy you experience means that scratch hasn’t met its match.

For further adventure, get into weaving. Scout Craigslist for excellent, low cost, second-hand equipment. That’s where I found Lilly