Sinking Ever Deeper

When I picked up a drop spindle for the first time, I was hooked. I thought that I could just drop spindle my way to happiness for years to come.

Then I sat down in front of a friends spinning wheel last week and I knew that it was going to drag me even deeper into this whole spinning thing.

Yesterday I spun all afternoon on an Ashford Traditional. I turned this

Mosaic Moon Fiber Club May 2012 75/25 BFL/silk in the Cerrunos colorway

into this

Interestingly enough, it didn’t feel like any of that drop spindling translated into making me a good wheel spinner. I found it very difficult to get the hang of the whole process – like I was patting my head and rubbing my tummy – and the first few yards of this skien are just horrid.

Next week, when my buddy comes over to knit, she is going to bring her wheel so that I can finish this 4 oz braid. I can’t wait. It is all that I can think about. I dreamt about it last night. I woke up this morning twitching with desire.

Yup. I got it bad.

(anybody want to send me an Ashford Elizabeth?)

The Fall

My second handspun yarn is finished. Wanna see it?

I have forgotten the clever name that this colorway came with and am now calling it “The Fall” both because of it’s glorious autumn hues and because my drop spindle fell a lot in the making of this lovely yarn.

First a note on spindles. This is only the second yarn that I have spun, so I am in no ways an expert, but I do have  a word or two about spindles. Not wanting to fork out the big bucks for a hobby that I had never tried before, I spent $10 on a wooden drop spindle. It works just fine. In fact, for the amount of times that it hit my concrete floor, I am glad that it was not very precious. However, since I got my new spindle, which cost quite a bit more, and have started spinning with it, I can already tell that quality does matter. My cheap one was difficult to spin suspended with because it wouldn’t spin very long, whereas my new spindle spins forever and I am only limited by how long my arms are. So, as far as I am concerned, get a nice spindle (whatever that means) and you will enjoy spinning a whole lot more.

Now, about this yarn. 

This is the first in the Cosymakes Falkland Fiber Club and it came in a 4oz braid in late January. When I started to work with it, my goals were not really yarn centered. That is, I didn’t really have a yarn in mind that I expected to produce. Rather, I wanted to concentrate on perfecting my new art.

First Goal – Suspended Spinning. My first spun yarn was entirely spun using the “park and draft” method, which was an excellent way to learn (plus, my hips were bothering me at the time, so I couldn’t stand and was spinning in a reclined position on my couch). It only took a short time (about the length of Batman Begins, in fact) to get the hang of suspended spinning (pun intended).

Second Goal – Consistency. I didn’t really care what I was consistent in, whether the yarn be thick or thin, but just so that it didn’t vary so greatly along one short length as my first try did.

Third Goal – Drafting. I wanted to figure out my favorite method of predrafting and holding the fiber. I experimented with tearing off a chunk and holding that in my hands. Then, I played with long lengths of predrafted fiber draped over my arm. It was the latter that won in the end.

Now, looking at this yarn I can see my improvement and I almost wish that I hadn’t plied it. One ply, the first ply that I spun, has little consistency and is thicker in general than the second ply, which is much more consistent and quite thinner. The two plied together make a pretty okay yarn, however, and I am pleased with how it looks (for my second try, anyway).

This yarn tells a story, the story of my struggle for perfection. The yarn that came before was terrible, and the one that came after is almost too good (more on that later), but this one is my own adventure, twisted up into a skein.

I think that is pretty cool.

Spinning With Baby V

I haven’t been spinning much since all that yarn came in a few weeks ago, but fiber has been coming in, too. Like this gorgeous braid from the Cosymakes Falkland Fiber Club. She calls it “Fantastic Mr. Fox”.

Plus, that gorgeous spindle from Wildcard Fiber Arts came in as well and I have been trying it out on the mystery fiber that was included in the box (I need to find out what this is because it is absolutely heavenly). This spindle is really tiny, but it spins beautifully and looks gorgeous in my yarn cabinet.

So, I decided that I need to finish plying what’s on my spindle. This is what my morning looked like:

I’ve got 4oz spun and plied now hanging to dry. I will tell you all about it tomorrow, complete with pictures.

Five Reasons Every Knitter Needs a Drop Spindle

Knitting is a matter of two sticks and a long piece of string. But it is made more fun, interesting, exciting, whatever when you have some other tools as well. I contend that every knitter should have a drop spindle (and, therefore, learn to spin) for the following five reasons.

1. Spinning is meditative. Often I read (or hear people say) that knitting relaxes them. “I knit so that I don’t kill people” is a common logo on t-shirts, mugs, and tote bags for knitters. This sentiment is lost on me, however. Perhaps it is because I approach my knitting with a desire to be challenged, to reach goals, to learn new things. I don’t knit to relax. I knit to enrich. I knit to challenge. I knit to occupy my mind. Because of this approach, knitting tends to make me snippy and short tempered. “Don’t bug Mama, she is working lace right now.” “Leave Mama alone, she is trying to get that _____ finished.” But spinning is a whole other story. Spinning is meditative to me. The mesmerizing turn of the spindle, the fluid motion of drafting, the wool slipping through my fingers. Sigh. This is where I relax. This is my therapy.

Gorgeous, right? Check it out here.

2. Drop spindles are beautiful. Just search for a drop spindle on Etsy and you will see what I am talking about. When you are done collecting all the knitting needles any knitter could ever want, time to start a new collection.

3. A whole new stash. Speaking of collections – if a large yarn stash is heaven, than a fiber roving stash is heavenly potential. While you are on Etsy checking out spindles, be sure to look at the batts and braids in hand dyed colorways. Swoon.

Drooling, yet? Check out this roving here.

4. A new understanding of yarn and fiber. I have only been spinning for a short amount of time, and yet my mind is spinning (ha! pun intended) with the implications of all this new knowledge. Understanding the construction of yarn and the properties of different fibers opens up a whole new approach to my knitting. The idea that eventually I will be able to make yarn that is perfectly suitable for its intended knit just blows my mind!

5. Taking it to the next level. When you have conquered knitting, climbed every mountain so to speak, it is time to go deeper. Take it to the next level and be perfect in your craft.

So, what are you waiting for? Get spinning! 🙂

Like I Needed Another Hobby

Look at what I am learning how to do:

I have been resisting the desire to learn to spin for years. I wanted to learn so much in knitting and to perfect my art. And, while I wouldn’t say that I have attained perfection in my knitting, I have learned all the techniques that I am interested in so far. Knitting presents fewer challenges for me than it did three years ago, and so I figured it was time to branch out.

I ordered this inexpensive drop spindle (from this Etsy shop) and a friend gave me some Knit Picks roving and I watched some YouTube videos (the most helpful being this one) and read every post in this Ravelry group and away I went.

Now I make yarn. It’s not great yarn, yet. But I am loving the challenge.