January 25, 2010
This past fall, I went to the Rhinebeck for the NY Sheep and Wool festival for the first time. There must be something about seeing the animals and fleeces and wool and spinners firsthand, because it got me thinking about spinning. And with thinking about spinning, comes the first step, a spindle.
So far, I've taken one intro to spinning class at Brooklyn General and am in the middle of a spinning wheel class at The Yarn Tree. This is a totally different approach from when I learned to knit, where I basically taught myself. Back in 2003 or so, a friend showed me the basics of knit and purl, I picked up a copy of Stitch and Bitch, and went from there. Of course, one can't rule out the daily inspiration and knowledge that came from an active community of knit bloggers. I wonder if spinning benefits from learning from others, or am I just more apt to jump into classes these days?
This is probably my 6th or 7th handspun. Its on a spindle because I don't have a wheel at home (yet!). I really got into a spinning groove with this almost-black corriedale. While I spun, it was a sunny day, light coming into the living room. I found it helpful to hold the fiber up to the light and really see how much was being drafted with each pull. This is about the thinnest I've been able to consistently spin up to this point. It takes a surprising long time to spin up 2 ounces of fiber on a spindle at this medium-skinny thickness. I am going to estimate like 5-6 hours total?
Corriedale, almost black from The Yarn Tree
2 ounces, 164 yards
about sport to fingering weight
And here it is all plied up. Its real yarn! There are some uneven sections, but overall I am so thrilled with it. I only know one way to ply on a spindle - make a center pull ball, then pull from both ends for a 2-ply yarn. This was nearly a tangled disaster. Luckily, I have a patient husband who was willing to monitor the yarn ball and make sure it stayed two separate strands.
I can understand why spindling is a good way to learn to spin - its slower than a wheel, and can be slowed down to just park-and-draft for the basics. and apparently, humanity used spindles for 4500 years of textile creation, with just the last 500 years on a spinning wheel (and well, industrial production over the last 100 years or so on humongous machines, but I am not counting those). I just can't imagine how long it would take to spin a sweater's worth of yarn on a spindle. There's so much starting and stopping to wind on the yarn to the spindle, and reaching down to pick it up.. I am wishing for the constant steady calm of a spinning wheel.