Wednesday, February 18, 2009

In Praise of VM

Yes, you read that correctly. This post is about the fact that I like a little VM in my fiber.

For the non-spinners among you, VM is short for "vegetable matter" -- little bits of hay that get lodged in the coat of the sheep or goat or llama or yak or whatever fiber-bearing creature provided your spinning fiber. If you spin only commercially prepared top or roving, you may never have noticed any VM.... certainly not more than the occasional twig of hay. However, if your fiber is prepared by hand (as in by a person, rather than a machine)you are likely to find a few of these little sprigs. They usually drop out as you attenuate the fibers to spin, or they can be easily flicked out with a finger.

Poorly prepared fiber that contains a lot of VM is no fun for anyone. But an occasional piece, or a guard hair or two (if you're spinning a downy fiber) is actually kind of comforting to me. It reminds me that the fiber I'm spinning is part of a living creature somewhere.

I love the beautiful, fluffy, hand-dyed braids and clouds, too, of course. But they're sort of like buying meat in the grocery store -- all packaged in the Styrofoam trays. It's easy to forget that you have a cow to thank for that burger.

What brought this on? I've been spinning this gorgeous pygora that Pam sent me. I had forgotten how nice it is to spin something that still has a little bit of lock structure, where you have to tease the fibers apart, and to see those occasional bits of the barnyard. So, my thanks to the little goats that provided this fiber, and to the talented folks who dyed and prepared it. I hope I do you both proud with my spinning.

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