Big spinnin’

Ha! Yes, I’m having a bit of craft ADD lately: first there was quilting, and now there’s spinning. Honestly, it’s just my way of dealing with this hot and humid weather – sewing on cooler nights, knitting when I’m able to find relief in air-conditioning, spinning when everything else seems to be making me too hot! Also, I’m finally feeling the freedom of being done with all my baby knits! Hooray! As a result I’m terribly scattered, but eh, whatchagonnado?

So, guess what?!? I made yarn!

Stacie showed me the ropes, with some helpful guidance from Maryse, too! Two lessons later, I think I’m finally getting the gist of it – what goes where, how to make yarn thicker or thinner, tighter spun or looser, etc.

But I have to say, spinning… good spinning… is an art, and I have no misconceptions about that. It will take a lot of practice and a lot of duds to make yarn as pretty as what I currently have in the stash, or as pretty as anything Stacie cranks out. Every time I see one of those beauties, I wonder, “Why spin when I can buy it all spun up and gorgeous already?” I’ve been using that as an excuse to avoid spinning for 6 years now ;). The issue, and I’m sure you’ve all seen me battle with this time and time again, is that the common put-up of a handspun skein of yarn is approximately 100 grams, which is not enough for much.

Anyway, for my first “skein,” and I use that term loosely, I used Corriedale pencil roving from Crown Mountain Farms. This was great to use for a beginner like myself because there was minimal fiber prep. I used Stacie’s Majacraft Rose and made 2-ply yarn! It’s bulky-ish, largely under-spun and under-plied (shocking, I know!), but with promising bits throughout.

Before cranking out that skein on the Rose, I tried spinning on the Ashford Traditional wheel (I think the double drive version), and the Louet S10 DT. The Louet was excellent, the Ashford… less so. I guess there’s a reason we are advised to try out a wheel before buying – each one is different! I’m nowhere near ready to buy a wheel, but I will be taking that advice seriously if and when I am.

Lastly, in the spirit of spinning, I wanted to mention the 4! Ounce! Challenge! that Stacie is currently hosting. Spin yarn and have the opportunity to win awesome prizes?!? That sounds like a win! Maybe next year I’ll have my own wheel and be good enough to participate!

27 thoughts on “Big spinnin’

  1. Kate

    Fantastic spinning Kathy!

    I think what I love most about the fiber arts is that you can have craft ADD and still be in the same craft family. I tend to go through obsessive phases myself – a month where all I want to do is knit, followed by a month of spinning, follwed by an intense week of dyeing, etc. It works out because the dye phase supplies the spinning phase which supplies the knitting phase, and on and on.

    Just think, now that you’re spinning, you can build a whole other stash. (Sorry, but it’s true.)

  2. aliceq

    It’s a slippery slope…I resisted for a while but two years ago at Rhinebeck I bought a spindle. Now I have 5 spindles and a wheel.

    Even though your yarn looks like, well, beginner yarn, I urge you to knit something with it. That will give you valuable feedback about which things that look problematic in your yarn actually are. At the very least, you’ll end up with some felted coasters in an absolutely gorgeous colr.

  3. Brenda

    Your first yarn is beautiful! You should consider knitting something for yourself with it. My first yarn was horrible looking, but I knit a pair of fingerless mitts which came out much better than the yarn itself. I love them dearly and still think about learning to spin when I wear them.

    Next year you should come up to Maine for SPA. Lots of spinning all around. It’s hard to resist.

    I bought a Louet S10 DT for my first wheel and have been very happy with it. I hated spinning on the Ashford, but I know many people who love their Ashfords. It really is a matter of taste. I’m looking at a Ladybug for my next wheel (which you should try if you haven’t already).

    Happy spinning!

  4. Janet

    Very lovely, and underplied? – looks good from here.

    I just learned to spin by volunteering to demo weaving and spinning at a local museum – I’m just getting comfortable, but plying, no idea how to do this.

  5. njstacie

    Hooray! I’m determined to make a spinner of you :) The Ashford was single drive, btw. As for handspun put-up: when I started spinning I sought to get better yardage – this need made me spin thinner and more consistently, hence more yardage. And now I know how to spin thinner :)

  6. Karen S

    Welcome to the spinning side ;) I think your first yarn looks absolutely beautiful considering… mine certainly didn’t look half as good. You’ll get the hang of it in no time!

  7. Lynn

    Have an S-10 and love it. If you ever get the chance to try a Lendrum, do! Several of my friends have one, and I find it more ergonomic than my S-10. I am also seriously coveting one of those lovely “Robin” wheels. Handmade, and a work of art. That will be one of my presents to myself when I finish getting out of debt.

  8. JudyO

    I love the colour. I’ve been doing a bit more spinning this summer (on my Ashford Traditional) but I seem to have a lot of blue/green in the fibre stash at the moment and I’m finding myself wishing for more colours.

  9. Johanna

    I’ve only tried hand spindling once, and have never used a wheel, but I’m told by experienced spinners that the unevenness in one’s first few spinning attempts can *never* be replicated once a spinner knows what she’s doing, no matter how hard she tries. So hang on to those early skeins, and find a special use for them! They’re one of a kind!

  10. Mary K. in Rockport

    Knowing you, even just vicariously, it was only a matter of time before this happened!

  11. allison

    I think your yarn looks great! I love the colorway, too. My own adventures in spinning recently started as well, though I’m working with a drop spindle.

    Good luck :)

  12. Seanna Lea

    I wanted to try spinning so badly, but I did not fall in love with spindle spinning. At the same time, I found that the spinning wheel is a much bigger investment than even my loom (rigid heddle). It’s too bad, because I bought a fair amount of fiber when I thought I was going to spindle spin it all.

  13. TracyKM

    Very pretty. I have resisted spinning for a long time too; I just don’t want to cut back on other activities to make the time for it. However, my aunt is dieing and was a fabulous spinner/knitter. I suspect I will be the lucky recipient of her tools someday and I know how pleased she would be if I did start to spin!

  14. MaryLou

    I love the yarn! The color is lovely, and you’d be surprised how good handspun looks even if it is uneven. I’m a newbie spinner myself, and have recently purchased a Hopper wheel from Spinolution. I love it, it’s a joy to use. Definitely give the Spinolution wheels a try. Most users really like them, and they’re especially good for those with arthritis or stress injuries. Very easy to treadle.

  15. veganprimate

    Ha! I remember how staunch you were about not learning to spin. How funny. Spinning is delightful and fun, and I know what a pefectionist you are, but please try to relax and enjoy it. It doesn’t matter if your yarn is perfect. I also highly recommend spindles. I learned on a wheel, but became intrigued with spindles. Once I got proficient with a spindle, I realized I preferred it to a wheel and subsequently sold my wheel.

  16. Lex

    I’ve been lurking for awhile, and this brought me out of the wood work. I just recently bought myself a wheel and learned to spin. I did it totally backwards, and bought the first used wheel I had access to. A new friend gave me a lesson in plying and spinning woolen, and I figured out worsted on my own. I just finished Navajo plying my first decent yarn. now i have to figure out what weight it is, and knit something. it will be great to see your progress. Is there something you’re working towards, or a goal you have?

    Thanks for writing such a great blog to read.

  17. sallya

    I’ve been staunch about not spinning myself. But that skein of yarn you did makes me feel sorta wobbly about that. How can you do that w/o a wheel? Don’t tell me you did all that on a spindle!! My craft ADD has gotten me into beading in a big way. Much cooler than knitting and it takes up less space, too. Lots of classes and lots of fun. But not so good in the car!!

  18. Anna

    Hey, that is fantastic for a first skein. When I started spinning, I had knittable yarn way faster than all my spinning friends thought I should, and it didn’t look half as good as yours.

  19. Audrey

    Welcome to the dark side :-) Funny what becomes nonessential to add spinning to your life ….

  20. Robin

    It’s lovely! Trying out different wheels is an excellent idea. And a drop spindle is a great way to work on your drafting in the meantime.

  21. earthchick

    Hooray!! Isn’t it so much fun? Even more than I expected. And I have to say that knitting with my own handspun is even more gratifying than knitting already was.

    I think your yarn is absolutely beautiful. Lovely, lovely!

    (p.s. if space and money are considerations, I would highly recommend a Schacht Ladybug. That’s what I have and it’s perfect for me. At a little less than 12 pounds it is easy to move, and it takes up very little space. And the price is hard to beat. I do dream of owning a Rose someday, but for now the Ladybug more than meets my needs.)

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