Friday, May 20, 2016

And for my next trick...I learn to spin

Tap...tap...anybody here?

I dropped off the wagon again and let this blog sit for too long but now I'm going to try to start posting again because I'm taking up a new skill, spinning. I suppose it would be more accurate to say that I'm trying it again, since technically this isn't the first time I've tried to learn how to spin. Let me explain. 

At least 5 years ago I got my first drop spindle from a kit that was sold at a historical reenactment event. I can't remember if it came with fiber or if I obtained it separately but when I first started to try to spin I was using this coarse un-dyed combed top wool, maybe merino but its not labeled so I can't tell for sure. Either way, not the best, but not the worst, fiber to learn to spin on. I stumbled across my first handspun when I was digging out the spindle the other day and OMG was it even worse than I remembered it. But it is exactly like I expected my first try at spinning would be, extremely thick, lumpy, ropy and I don't even know if I attempted any type of drafting but it doesn't look like it.
At one of the last fiber fairs I picked up some other fiber but I guess I never got far enought to try it. I remember getting frustrated, watching lots of videos at the time and then stopping but I don't think I ever disliked spinning. I just liked knitting more and then life got in the way, the fiber got put on a shelf and there ended my spinning adventure

Until now. I've been seriously committed to my knitting for the past several years and for the last year have really started working with and exploring non-commercial yarns, colors, techniques and vendors. I started ogling the fiber vendors, envious of their colors and the variety, especially with gradients and fiber types, that I was having trouble finding equivalents in yarn. I was also getting really stressed at work and was using my yarn and knitting related-shopping as an outlet so I guess I should be surprised that, on a whim, a supported spindle kit and fiber from Walnut Fiber Designs found its way into my cart and subsequently into a box on my doorstep.

Its been said many times by bloggers, podcasters and forum posters I respect to use good fiber, pretty fiber, fiber you like when learning to spin and to not just use junk wool. I can't say its the sole reason I was able to spin so much better right from twist 1 but I'm fairly certain that its a strong contributing factor. I was so excited when my kit arrived I opened it up immediately and tried to see if I could remember the basics of spinning. I picked one of the two similar braids to be sacrificed to the alter of learning and jumped right in.

This spindle was a basic unfinished wood version of a supported spindle. It came with a matching wood bowl and lead line. I watched a few videos on spindling and a few more specifically on supported spindles and then jumped in. After 4 days I've spun over 1 oz of the 4 oz braid and getting more consistent and confident every day. 

I'm having so much fun that I decided to jump in with the May challenge from the Spindelmaina group to spin something that makes you happy. So I dug out that first drop spindle, had a good laugh at my first handspun and then pulled out a batt of grey wool blended with purple and blue dyed streaks of silk, bamboo, stellina and glitz. I found, much to my surprise that after a few days on a  supported spindle I was instantly able to drop spin so much better. I AM having so much fun with this one and the bits of purple and blue make me so happy. I can't wait to see how this wants to ply, 

I'm looking forward to posting more about this new fiber journey.

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