Spinning and dying are my final frontiers as far as handcrafts go. I learned most others at a young age. Spinning and dying always seemed mysterious to me, and I didn't have anyone mentoring these crafts in my family. This week I decided I didn't need a mentor or a class to pick up spinning. I have all the skills and good sense I need to get started!
When I wandered down to Weaving Works on Monday, I had the sole intention of picking up a pair of craft gloves. My left wrist and forearm have been bothering me, and I thought they would help keep me knitting. While there bemoaning my recent achy knitting sessions, I walked past a display of beautiful, hand-carved spindles and remembered that Jared Flood recently floated the idea of putting up a hand-spun yarn tutorial. I simply couldn't resist.
Ten minutes evaluating resources in the books section, and I identified my guide: Spindle Spinning from Novice to Expert by Connie Delaney.One of the shopkeepers helped me pick a good beginner's spindle. Good being defined as functional, balanced, and pretty without breaking the bank. (I may love all the gorgeous options, but I didn't want to spend a lot of money on one until I figured out whether I like spinning or have any hope for some talent doing it!)
I ended up with a Schacht Spindle Co. Hi-Lo spindle, which not only meets my criteria but can be used either high whorl or low whorl. It has a 2.5" whorl and weighs 1.1 oz. I don't have anything to compare it to yet, but I thoroughly love my new toy!
The nice woman at Weaving Works (whose name I'll have to get next time I go in — it's shameful that I'm calling her "nice woman") also set me up with an ounce of medium-grade, undyed wool. I can't remember the C-name of it right now, so I'll call my patch of sheep fluff Charlie wool.
One of my little Cairn terriers, Barclay MacGregor, who has never destroyed any of my things before, got hold of my precious purchase before I did. I didn't have the heart to photograph the carnage of the Charlie wool all over the carpet. The spindle survived, but it definitely took on a new character.
Needs a name, don't you think? Scar? Chewy? I welcome suggestions!
I scraped up the Charlie wool and set about figuring out how to spin. The book's great, and I checked out some helpful internet resources, too — including a few really good videos on YouTube. Still, it's all trial and error unless you have an expert around to demonstrate and give feedback about what you're doing.
It took me about 2.5 hours to spin the wool top into a single — learning as I went. Lo and behold, at every turn a little miracle!
The next evening after dinner, my MIL and I figured out how to turn my single into a 2-ply using the method in Delaney's book. I didn't see this method anywhere else online. It's a really cool technique that plies the beginning to the end and works toward the middle — so you can do this with just one spindle-full of single-spun yarn. We had a little trouble figuring out the hand wrap but finally rigged up something that worked.
It's small and misshapen, but it's mine and I love my Charlie yarn. Clocks in at a whopping wpi of 5-7 (variable because of its extraordinary qualities) — that's hyper bulky. As you can imagine, 1 ounce spun to such massive heft does not go far. We have here just 28 yards. That's ok. I'll come up with something special to knit it into — or I'll get more of the same fiber and see if I can recreate the bumpy learner's goodness.
The next spinning project already has my fingers flying — and at a much finer gauge. I hope to finish by tomorrow night. Can't wait to show off that one. Looks like I've found a new obsession, and dying now stands alone as my final frontier!