Knitting / Spinning

Spinning, a renewed obsession

Over the past three days I spent about 14+ hours relearning how to spin yarn. An obsession, no?

Close up of the small practice skein I made before dipping into the nice fiber.

During college I took a felting class in which we got to visit a sheep farm & had a spontaneous drop spindle demonstration. Then we went to a hardware store & made our own out of dowel rods & CDs. But I never really took to it. Then I took a spinning class with real spinning wheels. At the end of the class I tried to make my own wheel out of PVC pipes & a slightly bent bicycle wheel. It didn’t go well.

Because of my recent move & glacially slow unpacking habits, a big bag of fluff has been staring at me while I sleep. During the day I’ve been reading knitting blogs that have showcased some really fabulous handspun. You see, I had to take it up again.

This time I learned to spin off of YouTube & reassembled my old spindle. The dowel rod was still there but the CDs had made it too bulky to easily store during my many moves & had been thrown out years ago. We also tossed countless things before we moved so I had to cannibalize a few CDs that had software written on them. I apologize in advance for doing this to you, but I have to make a very bad joke- iSpin on my iSpindle. We must have only kept such an old CD just so I could make a terrible joke.

DIY drop spindle with three balls of singles

Now that that’s been taken care of, I can tell you that the spinning was much easier all these years later. And I couldn’t stop. Clearly. My fiber was a lovely 6oz of naturally colored Shetland roving that came from a local fiber co-op. Grayish-brown with bits of white- it was almost as if the sheep had been like a person with graying hair.

The yarn came out like a beginner’s yarn does, too thin in some places & too thick in others. Knowing that plying would help even it out, I also decided to learn how to ply on a drop spindle, which I hadn’t done before. For those of you unfamiliar with the terminology, singles are single strands of yarn which get plied (spun) together to make a stronger strand, which is what you see in the pre-made fabric & thread you use for sewing. Plying is imminently faster & easier than spinning. But because I was being a crazy person I made it much harder on myself. I would be damned if I broke my yarn- even though the singles had already been broken into three different balls of yarn. I reasoned I could ply them together & you wouldn’t be able to see where they joined. I was wrong. And by the time I got to the final ball of singles I realized the final yarn wouldn’t all fit on my ball winder. Doh! But I had been engaged in my folly for so long I figured I might as well continue. Here is what the ridiculousness looked like- a spindle so full of yarn you couldn’t even see the shaft. Yes, it was very difficult to work with & I was continually swearing.

A much too full spindle with plied yarn. You can see the CDs are coming apart, so I may have to invest in a professionally made spindle.

However, it all payed off in the end & I proudly walked about the house wearing my skein as a huge cowl until I reluctantly took it off to set it (soak in hot water to balance any excess twist that comes from my inexperienced spinning technique). Sorry for the bad cell phone/mirror photos- the boyfriend was at work.

Wearing the skein as a cowl was very enjoyable, although it looked bigger in real life.

Now what to make it into? I’m thinking a big cowl. It’s about a bulky weight of yarn, which I’ve been wanting to buy but now don’t have to. I have no idea what the yardage is & don’t have a niddy noddy to help me estimate. Any pattern suggestions?

This picture gives a better idea of how much I spun.

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11 thoughts on “Spinning, a renewed obsession

  1. Pingback: A Handspun Cowl | Disparate Disciplines

  2. Pingback: Wrestling Match: Corduroy vs. Heavy Weight Thread « Disparate Disciplines

  3. Pingback: Wrestling Match: Corduroy v. Heavy Weight Thread « Disparate Disciplines

  4. Thank you for the advise!
    I think I will try a supported spindle too… because I am achey all over the place (thank you athletism) 😛
    ❤ lets rock the spindles!

  5. Sorry, paste failed–
    Rosalie’s Möbius Scarf,
    CO 200, p 1st, connect circle & then K, P , repeat 3X, then 4 K rows, then repeat entire sequence, to end of yarn & BO. Twist or untwist by end of 2nd row.

  6. Try this one, nice because you can see the end of your yarn coming up, leave enough for a cast off, and finish. I actually liked to play with the ribbing arrangement, depending on the character if the yarn, several k’s, then several p’s, even varying further, kind of mindless in contentious meetings. 🙂

  7. Your yarn is exquisite! I highly recommend buying a “professionally made” spindle, although “homemade” spindles can be quite good. I bought a toy wheel spindle when I first started spindling that is still one of my favorite spindles (and I now have a couple of Kunderts and a couple of Goldings). It isn’t necessary to spend a small fortune to get a good spindle. I love the Schacht Hi-Lo spindles; they cost around $20 USD.

    • Thanks! Any recommendations on support spindles? My back & neck were killing me. I finally changed how I was doing things & that helped a lot, but I was still achey. I tried making a support spindle from a long, double pointed knitting needle with some felt balls weighing down the end- no surprise that didn’t work!

  8. YEAAAAAAH!!!!
    IM SO HAPPY YOU ARE INTO THIS!!!!
    Just because i am knew in knitting…and I HAD to try to colour some yarn (I just wait for it..) than while reading about natural dying etc i found out a word..”spinning”?! Andt I JUST GOT TO TRY IT!
    so currently i am not only waiting for my undyed yarn but for some fibers too and a drop spindle…there are a lot of kinds…but I said what the hell just choose one and GO!
    I dont really find something wrong with yours (I find it beautiful..but again im just a rookie)

    • Aw thanks! I’m going to get a supported spindle. I found that using the drop spindle hurt my back & neck too much. So if you’ve got a sensitive back try getting one of those. But, if you don’t overdraft like I was doing, it may not hurt you. I got my fiber from Esther’s Place & I highly recommend them- http://www.esthersplacefibers.com. For dying, it may be easiest to start with kook aid. It works wonderfully on wool & you don’t have to mess around with mordants. Of course there are a ton of reasons to use natural dyes, but for getting started it’s a lot simpler, easier & cheaper to go the kool aid route.

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