I’ve got some other crafting things going on, but today I just want to quickly talk about my shiniest new toy: I went to my first-ever fiber festival last weekend, and while there picked up a drop spindle and some wool and learned to spin.
Fortunately the spindle came with an ounce of practice wool, so the worst of my learning mistakes happened in free, undyed wool that I didn’t care too much about. And boy, were there learning mistakes: my first batch of yarn has over-spun kinks, under-spun fluffy sections, and huge variation in thickness from point to point. I’m glad I saw the spinning demonstration before buying my spindle: the person spinning talked about how everyone’s first batch is what she jokingly calls “art yarn”, and said most people are doing much better within a half-hour of starting. I guess I am a bit behind the curve, as that first batch was all pretty bad and took rather more than a half-hour, but I’m okay with that. Anyway, as soon as I was done spinning I 2-plied the yarn and knit it up into a test swatch; photos:
Despite being only 2-ply I’d guess the yarn is somewhere around aran weight, albeit varying quite a bit. I used size 10 needles because the 8’s I started with were just not cutting it. Y’all may have noticed I’m a big fan of finer yarns, so knitting this up was somewhere between an interesting novelty and torture. All the same, I’m proud of myself.
While at the festival I also picked up some nice wool to motivate myself—a gorgeously multicolor blue-faced leicester wool by Dizzie Lizzies Handpaints. It’s spinning up a lot better, partly because my skill has improved and partly I think because the wool has less oil in it, or finer fibers, or something. I wasn’t really thinking clearly, so I only picked up one batch, so the plying process is going to be interesting, matching different colors together. In future I think I will stick to spinning single-color rovings, and likely doing more dyeing myself, but this roving certainly worked as intended to motivate me to get through the practice wool.
One thing that bears commenting on is the physicality of spinning, at least with a drop spindle, compared to my other crafts. I actually gave myself a blister the first time out (and chucked a bandaid on it and kept spinning anyway), but that appears to have been due to poor technique rather than anything else. Something that’s persisted is that after spinning for a while my arms get tired: with knitting, sewing, tatting, embroidering or crochet I can curl comfortably on the couch and keep my elbows down, but the drop spindle requires me to sit straight on the edge of a chair and keep both arms elevated for long periods. I’m definitely seeing the appeal of a spinning wheel, both for ergonomic and time-saving reasons, though I don’t have any plans to get one for the foreseeable future.
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