Marie Kratzke has perfected the art of spinning a fine yarn – not in words but from natural fibres such as wool, mohair from goats, and camel hair.
The GemLife Highfields homeowner has been a member of a craft group for many years and while long accomplished at weaving, knitting and embroidery, spinning is a skill she only picked up about eight years ago.
“I always had a passion for learning to spin and when a member of our craft group offered to teach me, I jumped at it. She loaned me a spinning wheel and after about four or five lessons, I was well on my way,” said Marie, admitting that at the beginning, the craft was not exactly easy to learn.
“Spinning is a real art. I was using more wool than was needed but eventually learned how to control it.”
After mastering the spinning wheel, Marie began to experiment with different yarns such as alpacas and minor fabrics like silk.
“I then went on to dying my own yarn and was amazed at what I could do once I knew how. It was also incredibly exciting to go from using commercial yarns to doing something so personalised. You soon learn that every garment you make with your own yarns will turn out to be so unique and one of kind.”
Marie said the hardest thing about spinning is learning how to get the wool onto the spinning wheel.
“Coordinating your head and feet to work at the same time can be a little tricky because your feet are going up and down while the thread is going in and out and if your feet are going too fast while you are pulling the thread through onto the bobbin, things can get out of hand very quickly. It sounds complicated but once you have learned the process, it is actually quite easy,” she said.
Mixtures of wool and silk are beautiful to spin, according to Marie who has a passion for spinning fine two-ply yarn used for knitting garments for babies. She also worked in fashion for many years and became a commercial wool buyer for a department store.
“I just fell in love with the whole process of turning natural fleece off a sheep’s back into a yarn that you can then use to knit something wearable or weave into a rug. It is amazing to be able to spin and colour my own yarn which will be unique and different every time.”
Marie said some see spinning as a dying art but once people realise they can’t buy the variety of yarns like the ones they are able to spin themselves, more people will want to learn.
“Not only that, but it becomes addictive. Most of my spare time is taken up with knitting, spinning and embroidery. Spinning is fun, good for the circulation and so relaxing, and it is something both men and women can do.”
There are also many types of spinning wheels ranging from the traditional to portable electric or battery-operated versions, all of which are represented in Marie’s spinning and craft room at home.
“I designed my craft room even before we moved into GemLife Highfields almost a year ago. Everything fitted beautifully and I always have plenty of yarn on hand to knit up a gift for family and friends. I never tire of spinning,” said Marie whose craftwork saw her win first prize in the Weave It Squares section at the Goombungee Show, near Toowoomba last year.