In Which I Take Up Spinning

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Last week I took my first spinning class. Since then I’ve spun the fiber we received in class, the one bag of  fiber I’d set aside “just in case I took to spinning,” and now I’m all out and looking for more.

My mother warned me: Once you start spinning, you won’t want to stop.

File this experience under “Things Mother Warned Me About,” along with boys, drugs and wearing thrift store clothes before you’ve washed them.

In class, the teacher gave us each a homemade spindle made of a wooden toy wheel, a dowel rod, and a hook. A nice cheap way to start. She also gave us our choice of a variety of bags of colorful wool. I chose a bag of blue-green fluff.

Initially, it was not the wool that defeated me. Nor was it the spindle itself. It was my clothing. Word to the wise: don’t try to do a rolling start off your thigh while wearing a loose cotton skirt. I was more successful in winding my skirt around the dowel rod than I was in spinning my yarn. My apologies to anyone I inadvertently flashed during the early parts of class. Eventually I gave up and spun the spindle with my fingers.

The teacher started us out with a technique called Park and Draft, which seems very beginner friendly. You pinch the yarn above the spindle hook, then set the spindle to spinning and wind up a bunch of tension in the fiber between your fingers and the hook. Then you “draft” it out by drawing the twist up into the fiber above.

The yarn I produced during class was very sorry stuff. Full of thick and thin sections and alternately over and under spun. I’m told to call this “novelty” yarn. During the next few days, I spun a little more every day. By the end of the bag of fiber, my technique had improved a bit.

My first proud, lumpy attempt.

Almost as soon as I was done spinning that first batch I started on the next batch. This time, I pre-drafted my yarn carefully, which helped the yarn come out more evenly.

When I was done I wound the yarn around the top of a chair.

A much better, although still quite bulky attempt.

Then I tried taking it off the chair and winding it into a hank. It ended up looking like this:

Sigh.

Apparently, I have an over-twisting issue. So much to learn.

23 thoughts on “In Which I Take Up Spinning

  1. Hi! I found this post via my blog, since mine is one of the “related articles” at the end of this post.

    Are you on Ravelry (ravelry.com)? If so, I can point you to some helpful spinning info. I’m pretty much self-taught, and most of my knowledge comes from Ravelry contributors.

    Keep up the good work! In no time you’ll be spinning thin and even!

    Jordan

    • caityrosey

      Now I just need to take some lessons or find a local mentor. I think I need some 1×1 instruction.

      Do you have any favorite you tube instructional vids?

  2. I taught myself and some day you’ll try to duplicate what you’ve done here. There is one good YouTube spinner who works only with a spindle. If I find it, I’ll send it to you.
    Thanks for the mention. I appreciate it.
    If I could give you ONE piece of advice, learn to ‘park’ your spindle. 😀

  3. You are off to a great start! Keep practicing, and before you know it, you will be producing beautiful, evenly-spun yarn. Enjoy the “art” yarn while you can because once you start spinning thin yarn, it’s difficult to do the thick-and-thin stuff again. LOL

  4. You’re doing great! Every spinner’s first yarn looks like this. I don’t think you necessarily have an overtwisting issue. Overtwist will be very hard and kinky, and usually beginner yarn has a combination of overtwist and undertwist so if yours looks even (which it does), you’re doing well.

    If the finished yarn is a single, you need to keep the yarn under tension until you wash it, which sets the twist, and even then it may still have a lot of active twist. Usually, you balance the twist by plying, which combines two spun singles but is spun in the opposite direction to balance the twist. If you want to work with singles only, you may need to full the yarn a little (think light felting) in order to control the twist. It’s a bit harder so I recommend that newbies start with a plied yarn – and keep the singles under tension until after you have plied.

    Hope that helps! And hang in there, you’re doing a great job.

      • Nah, you’re doing fine! Just keep practicing and if you want more information, pick up a good general spinning book. One of my favorites is Start Spinning by Maggie Casey. (It doesn’t hurt that she owns a local yarn shop near where I live, but I loved this book before I ever met her). Also, for spindle spinning, I hear Abby Franquemont’s book Respect the Spindle is good, as are her videos on YouTube. I learned to spin by a combination of helping friends, Abby’s videos on YouTube, and Maggie’s book.

  5. Jealous! I signed up for a spinning class that got cancelled due to lack of interest, but they’ve promised to hold it again this fall.

    (I have a spindle and some fluff waiting for me in a closet, too.)

  6. Be careful with those spinning classes. Next thing you know, you are pestering your husband to let you drive with Wisconsin to buy a wheel andsoon your fiber stash threatens to eat up your yarn stash space. It’s really a terrible problem. 😉

  7. Marie-Adeline

    after another class or two and a bit of practice you’ll see the progress you’ve already made, can’t wait to see your future spinning!!!

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