Spinning and Twirling

The Fat Bottomed Santa left a Learn to Spin kit under the tree for me.

It's the Golding Learn to Spin Kit. I did give Santa some help by suggesting a few kits but this one was top of the wish list. I'd heard a lot on the Ravelry Spindlers group about Golding spindles and so was delighted to get one. It's a Tsunami 1.9 oz top whorl spindle. It's a middle weight spindle and top whorl means the flat disc bit (the whorl) is at the top when it spins.

There are loads of websites with great information about learning to spin. A really good one is The Joy Of Handspinning, it has videos too which are great for learning how to spin which is hard to describe in words. I Can Spin also has good videos. Interweave's Spin Off magazine has a lot of very helpful free PDFs. Abby Franquemont's blog is very entertaining and she seems like the kinda person who has forgotten more about spinning than I'll ever know.

I'd read a lot about spindle spinning so was really looking forward to trying it out properly this time. My previous attempts to spin with a heavy homemade bottom whorl drop spindle were terrible. I couldn't get the hang of it at all. I was ok with the spinning wheel but not with the spindle. At the moment I can't afford a spinning wheel and I want to see if I really like spinning before I get a wheel.

The spindle came with Spin It by Lee Raven which is a great introduction to how to spin your own yarn. There was also 2oz of grey Coopworth wool roving to spin.

I found that the secret to spinning on the drop spindle was to draft the roving before spinning. I split the roving in two then in two again. I then pulled each of these lengths out before spinning them. I practiced and to my delight I started getting the hang of it. I started with the park and draft method of spinning where you spin the spindle and stop it by parking it between your knees. You can then let the twist run up into the fiber at your own pace. By the end I was able to draft while the spindle spun and dropped.

There's a photo of my singles on the spindle. I wound the twisty singles off the spindle into a ball. I then spun the other length of roving into singles as well. Since I got this far I decided I might as well try ply the two singles together as well. A photo of my low tech solution to not having fancy things like a lazy kate is below.

When you make the singles you twist the spindle clockwise. When you ply the two together you twist the spindle counter clockwise. Something magical then happens, the twisty singles become well behaved 2 ply yarn that doesn't twist.

I wound the finished yarn off the spindle onto a picture frame, a low tech solution to not having fancy things like a niddy noddy. I tied it up then soaked it in hot water to set the twist. After it dried it was different than before it was soaked. The yarn became even less twisty and softer with a nice halo of wispy bits.

There's more shots of my yarn, mine! It's a bit uneven in places but with practice hopefully it'll get more even and consistent. I have no fiber left now and I want some more. I can feel some shopping coming on. I've resolved this year that I won't buy any more yarn until I've used up the stuff I have. But making my own yarn is different... isn't it?

Hopefully I can get a good selection of different fibers to try out. Currently on the list to try is blue faced leicester, merino, silk hankies and alpaca. I'm really excited to try spinning silk. Silk is my favourite yarn and silk mawatas are much cheaper than silk yarn.


Sinéad says
January 14, 2009 at 12:40 AM

Congratulations on your first homespun! It looks great. And you're right, spinning your own yarn is not breaking the destash rule ;)