Spinning is a wonderful experience. Though you are relying on a machine, you are the one who is powering the machine, not a plug in the wall. Though I have been spinning for four years, it continues to amaze me. The amount of creation accomplished through spinning is incredible. You take something that looks like it once was on a sheep. Sometimes it has been combed or carded well, and it is in a long strand of straightened fibers. Other times it is fluffier, dirtier, containing bits of straw or dirt. You take that fiber and you tug at it and pull on it and allow it to be twisted, and when you are finished, it is something completely different - a ball of yarn.
Spinning is incredibly meditative, and has much to do with muscle memory. It is like riding a bike - once you learn how to do it, it's simple. When I spin, my fingers fly up and down the fiber, gripping and pulling and letting loose. My feet move up and down on the treadles, over and over again. I do not even need to watch to know if I am doing it right. I can feel the thread running through my fingers and I know instantly if it is bumpy or smooth, thick or thin. My body almost seems to work without my mind, leaving my mind to think or simply to rest.
I came to knitting via crocheting, which is very similar. In both crafts, you use yarn to create fabric. You take a ball of yarn and create something new from it, something completely different. You might create a bag or a shawl, or a sweater or a hat. You might make a stuffed toy for a child or an afghan for your grandmother. Knitting and crocheting are crafts done out of love.
Since coming to seminary, my knitting projects have shifted drastically from knitting for fun to knitting for a purpose. Most of the knitting I do nowadays are prayer shawls, stoles for friends, Christmas presents, and the occasional thing for myself. Often I have to be intentional in sitting down to knit spiritually. It is easy to get frustrated on the difficult projects, which is why I have put most of those aside for the time being. The simple projects allow my mind to wander, much like in spinning.
Sewing is a fairly new craft to me. When I began sewing in college, it was a time of fellowship and community. My friends and I would sew together while chatting, showing off our work, or venting our frustrations. It didn't feel right to sew without that community. But now that I am in seminary, much of my sewing is done alone or with only my husband in the room. I sew while watching television, even though I usually cannot hear what is playing. All of my sewing is project-based, and so the goal is more to finish a project than to enjoy the process. I have yet to find the spiritual aspect of sewing - for me, it is frustrating to have to rely on a machine to create. Perhaps if I was sewing by hand, it would be more relaxing. As I continue to sew, I will try to find ways to experience spirituality in this new craft.