5.24.2010

Spinning…

Well, it finally happened. I’ve been tempted over to the dark side. That’s right, I’ve started spinning. Because I don’t have enough hobbies and unfinished projects.

I don’t have money in the budget for a wheel, so I’m sticking to the drop spindle for now. On May 9th, I went to Shepherd’s Harvest and took a drop spindle class. Signing up for the class was sort of a whim, but I’m so glad I did it. The 2-hour class was taught by Elizabeth Harrington, who provided us with excellent instruction and some sample fiber. We all know I tend to be a perfectionist, so I had to tell myself it was okay to suck. And I sure did suck at my first spinning attempt.

The first fiber I tried was a 1/2 oz. sample of Colonial. I didn’t take any in-progress pictures of the process, but here is my finished and washed 2-ply yarn. It’s a trainwreck, but it’s not falling apart (yet) and that’s the important thing.

After practicing for a couple of days on the Colonial, I took a break for another couple of days. Strangely enough, when I picked up the spindle again, I was spinning much more evenly. It’s like I just needed that break for my brain and fingers to catch up to one another. Here is my second attempt at spinning the rest of the Colonial sample. This is a 1.1 oz. Schacht spindle that I bought for $17 at Shepherd’s Harvest. Actually, my kitchen scale says it’s 1.2 oz. Either way, it’s probably on the lighter side of medium.

I also had a tiny bit of Merino wool from class that I spun up. Even though I’ve heard that Merino is not easy for a beginner, I had a much easier time with it than the other fibers I tried. I don’t have a photo of my Merino single to share, but I think it turned out better than the Colonial.

With the 1/2 oz. of the Colonial gone (I still have the remaining single wrapped around a toilet paper tube somewhere), I moved onto the gray Corriedale. This fiber was a lot rougher, with some dark pokey strands in it. I haven’t been using a sample card, so I’m sure that every time I spun, I was spinning a different weight. But it’s still practice, so I’m not going to be too anal retentive about it.

Here are the progress photos of the Corriedale, from fiber to washed and wound yarn. In the first photo, the Corriedale is the gray fiber on the lower right. The two big balls (hee) are 4 oz. each of Merino that I bought at Shepherd’s Harvest. The other three fibers are dyed samples we received in class (donated by Etsy seller Knitsinclass).

I used both ends of the center pull ball from the Nostepinne to wind a double-stranded ball for plying:

Before washing:

After washing:

Not bad for my second real attempt!

I used the guidelines from this site on creating a balanced yarn during plying, but I tried to allow for the possibility of untwisting during washing/winding, so I overtwisted it just a little. There are some spots that look like they could be twisted further — the plies are coming apart slightly — so I may need to overtwist even more during my next plying attempt. The final yarn is about 18-19 wpi, which is anywhere from fingering to sport weight, depending on which chart you use. I got 60 yards out of the 1/2 oz. of fiber.

I’ve also been reading Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont, which I checked out from the library. This book is awesome, and has helped me expand on what I learned in class. I definitely plan on buying my own copy for my library. I originally planned on getting a spinning wheel if it turns out I actually stick with spinning, but this book has convinced me that the drop spindle is more than just a starter tool for people who haven’t “moved up” to a wheel yet. So maybe the spindle will remain my spinning tool of choice. We’ll see.

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