Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Non-Expert's Guide to Learning to Spin: Part 1 - Start Small

I am no expert when it comes to spinning. I am self taught and have been spinning only since February of this year. But, in the few months that I have been spinning, I have been considering what advice I would give others who want to learn to spin.

Wool of the Andes Orange 2
My first handspun, Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Roving

Part 1: Start Small

There are many advantages to starting your spinning journey with a drop spindle and not a wheel.

1. Most obvious is that it is a much smaller investment and if you end up realizing you are not a spinner you are not out much of your yarn budget.

Citrus Grove 1.1
Knit Picks Turkish Spindle, bottom whirl setting, Daybreak Dyeworks fiber.
I chose a Knit Picks Turkish spindle. It was easy to drop in my Knit Picks cart, free shipping, and they are on sale right now!

2. It's portable. This is one of the reasons many of us love knitting, and if you start spinning stuck in a chair behind a wheel it might not feel natural to you. You can drop spindle sitting, standing, and walking around the yard! I have even drop spindled in the car :)

3. It's slower. This may not seem like an advantage at first, especially to those of you who want finished handspun yarn in your hands RIGHT NOW, but the fact that drop spindling is naturally slower than using a wheel will give you the time you need to learn to DRAFT your fiber. Drafting is one of the most challenging parts of learning to spin and when you feel like the wheel is just yanking the fiber from your hands (don't ask how I know!) you will appreciate that you are in control of your spindle to focus on the drafting process.

Citrus Grove 2.3
Second Handspun, with center pull ball of single

4. You can produce beautiful yarn from start to finish. You can not only use your drop spindle to spin, but you can also use it to ply. You don't need a Lazy Kate or any other special spinning tools to complete the process. The Turkish style spindle is nice because it automatically puts your yarn into a center pull ball you can use for plying. I let my husband hold two of these balls for me while I plied them together... and when he wasn't available I stuck them in the side pockets of my knitting bag while I plied - worked great!


5. You will fall in love with spinning. Or, at least I did :)

Snow White Shrug 3.6
My first knitted object from drop spindled handspun, Hogg Wild Fibers.

More commentary from the non-expert to come! Happy Spinning!
Please, do not reproduce any content from this site without my written permission. You can reach me directly at lonestar(dot)knits(at)yahoo(dot)com. Thank you.