Drafting Zone

In my early days of learning to spin wool, I used a drop spindle and a method called Park & Draft. This was a lovely way to slow down the process of spinning into simple steps whereby you Park the spindle under your arm while you draft the fibers before letting the twist you had gathered from twirling the spindle, into those drafted fibers. I had to maintain a pinch around the tube of fibers so as not to let the twist into the drafting zone, ie. the triangular area where the fibers are pulled or tugged until they are the thickness or thinness you desire.

Now that I’ve been spinning for several years, and am proficient with spindles of all kinds as well as wheels, I hardly even think about the steps my hands just know to do. The drafting zone is of utmost importance. Without drafting the wool (gently pulling the fibers either forward or backward) , it is very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve a consistent spin, or to be able to spin easily without the entire bulk of the braid or batt of wool chugging into the wheel or spindle, thus making a tangled mess.

Lately I’ve taken to spinning in order to soothe the ragged edges of weariness and sadness surrounding my mom needing to be moved to Memory Care. It is comforting to spin wool when life whirls out of control. Perhaps I sense a need to make something beautiful from chaos, twirl and smooth fibers into yarn that is both useful and full of possibility. I hold out hope that all of the work will yield something lovely in the future.

Recently, as I spin, I recognize that I myself am in a drafting zone. It’s a place where I am stretched out, pulled to the thinnest I can bear without breaking, and then whoosh…twist and torque gather up the fibers of my being and I’m left not knowing exactly what has happened. The drafting process seems to occur over and over as I visit my mom in Memory Care, consider the ways this move has improved her situation while also bringing new and unexpected challenges, deal with the anticipatory grief that accompanies watching a loved one in the throes of Alzheimer’s, and generally question whether there is really a best-case scenario available for any of us who have loved ones with this disease. Pulled like taffy, stretched-thin like ribbon candy, twirled like cotton candy…the drafting zone I am in has little to no sweetness to it, but does bring a deeper awareness of the process of living and how difficulty brings us to a place of deeper wisdom and compassion.

I almost want to go back to those Park & Draft days, where the spinning process was slower. I pick up my spindles just for this purpose…to move more slowly through the draft and twist so that I can see it all, feel it all, or at least all that I can handle. Some days I do want to move through the process much more quickly. But then I remember that every time I spin, whether spindles or wheel, I must draft. Without it there is no yarn. I’m learning to allow what is, to be as it is. Even if it isn’t fun, or seemingly beautiful. In the drafting zone, there is only trust. Trust in an outcome that far outweighs our temporary trials.

Spin on dear reader! I will too.

16 thoughts on “Drafting Zone

  1. Sheri Ahner says:

    Oh Jennifer I am so sorry to hear of this anguishing time with the decline of your mother’s mental capacity. I speak from experience. It’s awful, painful and extremely frustrating but at times sprinkled with joy and even laughter.
    In 2019 my oldest sister died in March, then in Octtober our mother passed. I understand the pain, frustration and the lost feeling of “am I doing the right thing”. You can’t be wrong if you want the best care for her. This is done out of the deepest love and respect.
    I will pray for you and your loved ones. Reach out if you need support It’s there for you

    • Jennifer Edwards says:

      I am deeply sorry to hear of the grief you must be experiencing Sheri. I will keep you in my thoughts. Thank you for your encouragement here. It is such a disorienting season, not only for my mom, but also for myself and my dad and siblings. Hard to know if we are doing the right thing and finding we have to keep advocating for her care even though she is in a good place. Thank you for your understanding.

  2. Suzanne says:

    Only you would be so clever as to compare drafting wool to working through grief! It’s a beautiful analogy and very true. The pictures you created in my mind will remain vivid for a long time.
    I lost a very dear friend yesterday after two years battling cancer. I woke several times last night in tears but am now prepared to sit and spin for several hours today while I reflect on all the happy times we spent together. So…. thank you!

  3. Brenda Goings says:

    Dear Jennifer,
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your grief—-so of us folks here holding you up in God’s light…♥️

  4. Nessie says:

    So sorry for the difficulties you are going through. Alzheimers is horrible on all involved, and few can truly understand all that surrounds it. Your comparison and words: I see love, beauty, and hope in them alongside the pain. Praying for you now.

    • Jennifer Edwards says:

      Thank you so very much Annette! How grateful I am for the support, encouragement and prayers of friends as I navigate this path with my mom and family. I hope you are doing well! I was happy to see you are knitting! Blessings to you!

  5. Robin Davis says:

    Touching. Soul shaping. Thank you for sharing and illustrating this part of your journey. Creativity is healing.

  6. Jennifer Hollingworth says:

    Hello Jennifer. After my dad died I spent a week with my mum organising the house and funeral. At night I sat and spun on my traveller wheel, which was soothing for me and calming for mum to watch. It is a beautiful craft that we are blessed to be able to “park and draft”. Jennifer H.

    • Jennifer Edwards says:

      Hi Jennifer…how fortunate and blessed we are to have creative hands that can translate the grief we experience into something beautiful. I hope you are well today! Blessings to you!

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