Getting The Family In On The Act

In the course of the last week, both J and C have expressed an interest in learning how to spin. Not one to miss such an opportunity, I made these:

Two CD drop spindles. These made up quickly Saturday night, in just a couple of hours. I have enough materials to make two more, but I didn't want to do all four at once to leave open the possibility of tweaking my design a bit. I originally planned to dress them with abstract geometric images, but I decided at the last minute to take a different approach. I though the Seattle skyline was a good starting point, since that's where we live and I thought the colors would look pretty from above as the spindle whirls. The other is a close-up image of Ukrainian pysanky eggs (another of my crafty pastimes). They do look spectacular from above as they spin!

I'm particularly proud of the way I use the image to support the design and assist the spinner. I selected images with a strong vertical line pointing to 5 o'clock. This is important because the hook opening is at 12 o'clock, which means the vertical image points the spinner to the exact place where she (or he!) will want to place the yarn before running it through the hook. On Seattle Skyline, that line is created by the Space Needle. I did also put a notch in the CD for this one (thanks, J, for letting me call upon your muscle power for that part of the task!). Pysanky Spinner, whose visual orientation line is created by the black area that points like an arrow to the right spot, sports no notch.

The visual orientation line works so well that even without a notch to control the yarn, I was able to acclimate really quickly — to the point where I don't have to think about how far to turn the spindle when I'm winding on. It's brilliant! (Yes, I do say so myself.) With my Schecht Hi-Lo, I have to pay closer attention during wind on so I can "find" the notch. But with these spindles, I don't have to think about it as much because (1) my brain wants to orient the image vertically and (2) my eye wants to follow the strongest vertical line. Perhaps even most impressive is the fact that I place the yarn in the best spot every time so the fiber doesn't slip.

Here's what the spindles look like from behind.

Pretty normal. The dowel is 3/8-inch diameter, 12-inch length. I used rubber grommets, clear painter's tape (as a shim to fill in the gap between the grommet and the dowel), 180- and 220-grit sandpaper, a CD, cup hooks, and lemon oil. And yes, they do smell lovely!

"What's that fiber already spun?" you ask.

That, my friends is (on left) the next installment of my Song For Dalai Lama yarn (100% wool) and ... [drum roll] ... (on right) ... J's first handspun singles! Check it out!!!

That's right — my newly knitting husband spun himself some awesome looking singles! As soon as I finished making Seattle Skyline and gave it a little test, he had me teach him. He learned quickly and was spinning the entire time I worked on Pysanky Spinner. Truth be told, he did best once I stopped yammering at him with my running monologue of "helpful" little tips and tricks from my own, not-too-distant, learning process.

He's using the 100% Merino wool roving I had gotten from A New Yarn. (Sorry, B. This roving had been destined for you, but the man needed something to learn on, and I knew you'd be so psyched about him spinning that you'd forgive me... as long as I find another yummy roving to send you!)

I have to say that I'm really impressed by how well these spindles work! They spin forever. I spin yarn noticeably quicker on this spindle than on my Schecht Hi-Lo. And they're much more balanced than I ever would have expected.

The only unfortunate thing I might say about them is that they don't work too well for spinning in bed. They get a little wobbly when I'm lounging in bed watching TV because of the angle I use to hold things.

As for finished product, my Song For Dalai Lama singles pictured above are every bit as fine as the original singles I had spun on my Hi-Lo.

Now I know you're probably doing some math here and saying, "Hey, if she was making these spindles so J and C could learn, and then she started using one of them herself, that leaves one little 8-year-old girl without a spindle."

Never you fear: C and I picked a lovely image of a mommy and baby horse to put on a spindle for her. C was in bed by the time I started making these first two on Saturday night, and I wanted to include her in the process. She'll have a spindle of her very own soon. That's why I bought this:

Plain, white, beginner's fiber. I'm pretty sure it's the same stuff I used to learn on. I now know it's Coopworth fiber. C doesn't know it's for her yet. I figured that once I make the spindle, I won't push her to start using it. I'll just have it laying around with this ecru fiber to be at-the-ready for that magical moment when, overcome by curiosity and the lure of her pretty Mommy-Baby Spindle, she decides it's time. She can't resist anything mommy-baby oriented.

I did, however, involve her right away in another experiment I'm conducting now: She helped me select colors for some roving I'm going to spin together. Here they are:

Top Row (L-R): lavender, teal, lime green. Bottom row (L-R) Barbi pink, berry, tangerine. Her only instructions were to limit her selection to five colors. Now, you mathematicians, I know darn well there are six colors pictured, not five. That's because after C picked her five colors, I asked her what color she wanted it to be mostly. She said pink. I picked up the berry as my own addition to her selection.

Despite how it looks in the picture, I do not have equal amounts of each. The fiber is New Zealand Carded Wool from Weaving Works. I started spinning the singles on the wheel last night. This is my first time working with that particular wool, and so far I'm finding it wonderful to spin.

C's proud to call herself a yarn designer! I'm proud to call J a drop-spindler. I'm proud of myself for making such awesome spindles — for well under $2 each. And I'm thrilled that my family can share this with me!


Virtuous said...

Pretty darn unique!

Ina said...

Surfing over from Jessica's to say thanks for the great SoS button and congratulations for winning the contest. Incidentally, as a returning SoSer, I can aver that sock knitters derive many benefits from both process and product!