As you may know, I’ve been learning a new craft – spinning! I watched my friend my friend Heavenly do it for months, and all the time swore I wasn’t going to start, because I didn’t have time for it. Of course I started anyway, and now I’m obsessed.
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First steps (and missteps)
For Christmas I asked for and got a drop spindle and some wool to practice on. My first attempts were….interesting.
It took some time but I started to get the hang of it. My second attempt was a little bit better and I was able to make this thick and thin cowl with it!
I started out by using the “park and draft” method. First you spin and spin and spin the spindle, until a lot of twist is built up. Then you “park” the spindle between your legs to hold it in place so it can’t move. Finally, you slowly draft out the fibers, allowing the twist to travel up a little at a time. In this way, the spinning and drafting are each done one at time, making it easier to learn. Once I had the hang of that, I started spinning and drafting together.
I bought a full pound (8 oz each of 2 colors) of cheap wool to practice on. It’s a bit scratchy, but it was just for practice. Before I was halfway through it, I learned a valuable lesson: There’s only so much wool you can fit on a spindle. As you overfill it, it becomes heavy and the yarn starts to break. In my case I made it so heavy I actually broke the spindle!
Upgrading to a wheel
I managed to fix it (superglue to the rescue!) and made it through the whole 8 oz of dark green on the spindle. By this point, I had figured out how to draft consistently, and decided I needed a wheel. Thanks to a spinning buy/sell facebook group, I found a used wheel for a good price, and my mom got it for me as a birthday present (thanks Mom!) Meet my new Ashford Joy. Joy is the perfect name!
It’s made for travelling – very light weight, and folds up to a compact size. This picture shows it all folded up and ready to go. Mom even got me the carrying bag that goes with it! Learning to spin on a wheel was challenging but fun. I think I would have found it frustrating though, if I hadn’t already learned the basics on the drop spindle.
One more month has gone by since then, and with steady practice, I finally made it all the way through that full pound of practice yarn. It’s about 1200 yards, somewhere between a fingering and sport weight. What do you think I should make with it?
Now I’m moving on to a stunning, cloud-like, hand-combed Cormo cross that my friend Heavenly gave me. Be sure to check out her store – Heavenly Knitchet. She has some beautiful fibers available! I’m making it really thin, and hoping for a lace weight when it’s all done. This fiber is undyed, so my next project is to learn how to dye the finished yarn….but first I have to decide on a color.
Have you tried spinning? If you want to learn, there’s a “Foundations of Spinning” class on Craftsy! It doesn’t take a whole lot to get started with spinning, but fair warning – it’s VERY addictive.