Sunday, June 8, 2008

Spinning The Night Away

A few days after my birthday, I received my first spindle in the mail. Yup, I've moved on from just knitting, to now attempting to spin my own fiber into yarn to knit with. It's pretty ambitious, I know, but I've always wanted to spin ever since reading fairy tales as a child and wondering what a spinning wheel looks like in Sleeping Beauty (and what on earth she pricks her finger on) and Rumpelstilskin (she has to spin all that flax before morning!). And whenever I would go to Renaissance Faires, it always amazed me how those character can spin and knit and weave, and even dye using natural sources like plants and insect larvae.

So for my birthday I got myself a spinning starter kit from Maine Woods Yarn at Etsy, and after emailing the owner about me wanting to spin thick yarn, she recommended a heavier bottom whorl spindle and the sale was made. When it arrived, I couldn't wait to get started! I had watched every video on youtube and everywhere else on the Internet and figured I got the draw and spin part quite well inside my head.

I think I blew through all 4 oz of fiber in 2 days, but the first spin attempt should have given me a clue. I wondered how I could go through the fiber that fast and it was gone...well, I forgot all about preparing the fiber...mainly drafting. I did split it up into halves, but never pre-drafted it (besides, what on earth was predrafting if I could just spin and pretend I was making this wonderful yarn?). Oh well, we all learn, don't we?

So before I was going to blow through the rest of the remaining fiber, I enlisted the aid of Nancy of Nancy's Custom Handweaving in Redondo Beach, and she provided me with a light Ashford top whorl spindle and an 8 oz bag of pretty beautiful roving (it's brown, which reminds me of my own hair). In an hour, was spinning thin yarn on the top whorl and having learned all about pre-drafting, was drafting pretty well. It was money well spent!

I still spin some thick parts to the yarn, but not as bad as my first attempt. I love spinning using both whorls and am getting pretty proficient with drafting and spinning. It's like the spinning Yoda chanting to me, " one with."

But as Nancy said, no one spins perfect yarn the first few times. And I know that practice makes perfect, so I keep on spinning!

Last week, I purchased some beautiful purple roving from Spinning Ginny and as soon as it arrived, I busily began pre-drafting and spinning it on my bottom whorl since my top whorl was pretty much filled with the brown yarn from Nancy's. This is my third attempt at spinning, and I must admit, it's looking pretty good. I loooooove it!

I can't wait to learn how to ply my yarns - once I get enough yarn spun, of course! And for that Nancy will show me how in another lesson. That, or I attend the Knit in Public Day at El Dorado Park with other spinners and knitters. I'm sure I'll get a lot of tips there and have a lot of fun. Even hubby is pretty interested in checking it out.

This is a close-up of my third attempt at spinning. I think it's pretty good. But who knows? I'm sure someone out there can tell me how I'm doing!

For now, I'm heading off to Home Depot or Lowes to make myself some other spindles to spin with. I've pretty much filled up the spindles I've got and need to practice some more. Of course, that's a good excuse, isn't it?

Thank goodness, for now, I'm pretty happy spinning with my spindle. I don't think my pocketbook can deal with anymore spinning emergencies for June...

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