I’m finally learning to spin fiber into yarn. I started a few weeks ago and am really enjoying the process. I’m currently in the process of spinning my third skein of handspun – though it’s my first attempt at a full length skein of fairly even yarn; my first two skeins are quite small at 13 and 25 yards, and a bit undecided as to weight, ranging from chunky to what could only be called thread.
I’ve wanted to learn spinning for quite a few years – decades, even. I would pick up a book on the subject, buy a spindle, collect spinning fiber, but never seemed to find a moment when time and desire coincided to actually sit down and learn how to spin fiber into yarn.
Last month I decided to participate for the first time in Nerd Wars on Ravelry – a venture I initially undertook as an effort to be more productive in knitting and crocheting gifts for the winter holidays. And it sounded like fun. (Turns out I love nerdy competitions. Who knew! Well, being that I’m a total nerd, I shouldn’t have been so surprised.) One of the areas you can compete in is to work on a “disertation,” which is a 3-month long project in one of the Ravelry crafts: knitting, crochet, weaving, and spinning. I hadn’t intended to try to tackle one first time around as I hoped to be making all my gifts this year and didn’t want to start any large projects that would distract me from actually completing planned gifts.
But then I had a brainstorm: Ha! Spinning! So, I rummaged about in the back of my closet looking for the spindles and fiber I’d managed to pick up over the years and submitted my proposal: learn hand-spinning and create a lovely, useable skein of yarn. I then hunted through my my books for my texts on spinning – I had several, of course, from Respect the Spindle, by Abby Franquemont, bought last winter, to Rachel Brown’s The Weaving, Spinning and Dyeing Book, which I bought new in the 80’s.
I quickly learned that most of the fiber I had on hand wasn’t actually the best type to start learning with – my small stash (hmm, actually a large stash considering that I wasn’t a spinner) consisted primarily of samples of alpaca, cotton, flax and silk. And one large batt of an unknown wool. So a quick trip to my favorite shop, some consultation with the spinning instructor that was on shift, and I came home with some Coopworth, Corriedale, and Blue-faced Leicester.
I spent a week trying to spin the first bit of Coopworth on my odd collection of spindles: a heavy bottom-whorl sans hook or notch, a light Turkish spindle, a tiny top-whorl spindle, and an even tinier supported spindle. None of these spindles were comfortable for me to use, and I think some are more appropriate for spinning cotton thread. Did some further reading and decided that a supported spindle might be the best fit for me, at least to start with.
In case you didn’t know it, there are a lot different spindles out there. Spindles come in two basic flavors: support or drop, and there’s quite a lot of variety to be found in both categories. In my research, I glommed onto a particular spindle that I liked the look of, and found the spinning style interesting, and I just plain wanted one. But it turns out that French spindles are not exactly common, but I finally found someone who makes them – I eventually figured out that she was one of the people I watched in the various videos demonstrating the French spindle on YouTube: Introduction to the French Spindle, by Lisa Chan of grippingyarn.com. I ordered a Fench spindle from Lisa, and about a week later I was happily spinning with it.
I love my spindle! And I’m finding the need for more of them – more French, more of different types too, and there are some very cool spindles out there. I want to try spinning with a Russian supported spindle, a phang, a Tibetan, and I would like to get a Kundert spindle and a Golding. Shiny! And then there’s spinning wheels. . . hmm. (It’s a good thing for my budget that Kromski recently discontinued their Mazurka wheel or said budget would be gasping out it’s last breath on the kitchen floor.)
I’m on my third week of spinning and enjoying it quite a lot. And it’s comforting to know that my fiber stash will finally be used. There such beautiful fiber out there to play with, and some lovely dyed roving and top that must soon be added to the spinning stash. AND I’ll be guilt-free when adding to it now that I’m actually becoming a spinster 😉 – spinner – spindler. . .
Note: This is the inaugural post of Anarchy Moon. Eventually I will change the header to a fiber-related photo but in the meantime I’m keeping the winter woods photo in place as I quite enjoy looking at it.