Monday, 15 April 2013

In A Spin ..

Very recently, my Dad made me a Wool winder and a matching squirrel swift.  I was so excited that the Bobbin Winder/Spindle that he also made was pushed a bit into the background.  
Hand Made Quill Spindle

I didn't really like to admit that I was a bit daunted by it.  I have never spun before and was a bit reticent about starting - not because I didn't want to, I was just not sure that I would be able to do it.  

I mentioned at work that I was interested in spinning and one of my colleagues said how great it was and how energised you feel afterwards - but it's really hard work and you certainly work up a sweat.  
I was a bit puzzled, this was not my image of spinning at all and then realised she was talking about cycling, really fast in the gym.  As I try and run a fair bit, she assumed I meant exercise.   

No, it's the REAL spinning I'm after.  The proper 'been doing it for generations' stuff.

I purchased some Crossbred Merino wool tops.  I had no idea what I was doing or what I was ordering.  I purchased it from ebay because the description said perfect for spinning and when it arrived I had some misgivings.  The wool was lovely and soft and I thought what a shame it was going to be to mangle it all up with my first attempts at spinning.

At this point, I spent quite a bit of time watching youtube videos on how to spin.  Pinch, Draft and Draw.  Hhmm, it didn't really look easy and when I tried it, I was beyond useless.  There was no twist to the wool at all.  All the spinning videos used 2 hands and at this rate, I would need 3.  To say I was fairly discouraged is a bit of an understatement.  I didn't even know how to use the spindle I had as I could not find anything like it.  Clearly, the spindle was faulty!

I then rang Dad to say that the spindle doesn't spin, I think it's just a bobbin winder.  Between the two of us, we worked out the problem.  I was just winding the wool on - there was no twist.  The wool needed to be spun off the tip on a 45 degree angle.  I also discovered that the spindle was called a 'Quill Spindle'.  Looks like the spindle was OK after all and the problem was me - just as, deep down, I knew it would be.

I also discovered a spinning shop just up the road from me.  I marvelled at this.  Perth has very limited fibre options.  Wool shops are very few and far between so I have taken to purchasing most of my supplies online.  I arrived at the spinning shop nice and early only to discover that it didn't open until 10.30am .. Oh, the impatience of waiting for wool!   But what a shop it is - small but perfectly formed with everything the spinner could want.  I fell in love with a second hand Peacock spinning wheel but I felt quite traitorous even considering buying a wooden item when Dad makes such quality things.  After lengthy discussions with a seasoned spinner, I learned that a Quill Spindle is not the ideal way to learn how to spin - Great!  However, it was all I had and I was very grateful for it and I was determined to learn.

A new google search on Quill spinning revealed the technique.  Thanks to Dawning Dreams I was soon up and spinning.  Not very well mind you but I was producing something and having enormous fun doing so.

Second Spinning Attempt
I'm too embarrassed to include a picture of my first spinning attempt so I will include a picture of my second.  It looks like wool, feels like wool but it's very unlike the wool I am used to knitting with.  I have some way to go but I am so looking forward to where spinning may take me.

Happy Spinning,

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  1. Louise, brilliant! Your second attempt produced yarn this good?! I feel like giving up! But I won't.

    1. Thanks Jenny .. Don't give up - the world needs new spinners like us :-)

  2. That's awesome, I'm pretty I could never manage it. I imagine by the time I got done trying, repeatedly, I would be on the floor having a 2yr old sized tantrum. Lol


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