Beginning Spinning

I am slowly becoming a fiber monster. It’s a little crazy to be adding to my toolkit when I already have so many knitting projects I want to get into (and am juggling several already on needles). Where will all this time come from? But I decided it would be fun to take a class to learn how to use a drop spindle, especially since this particular one also promised to teach about different kinds of fiber and yarn, which just makes you a better and more informed knitter.

One of the gems I found when searching for resources on drop spinning following the Ravelry Meet-up in May was this warning preceding instructions on how to use a drop spindle:

WARNING!!! Spinning reduces stress and promotes well being. It can also be habit forming and lead to obsessive behaviors such as, but not restricted to: caressing and hoarding all fibers; dying them with food colors and things from your garden or whatever you have laying about; spinning the fluffy bits of the weeds in your fields, the cotton wad in your vitamin bottles and even the lint from your dryer! Proceed with extreme caution!

With the transformation into a full-blown fiber monster in mind, I signed up for Knit One One‘s class “Beginning Spinning: On a drop spindle” taught by Brooke Sinnes of Sincere Sheep. Seriously, though, while it was a little expensive, it promised to be four hours of class spread over two Saturdays. Sounded like a good amount of time to learn, practice, and be able to ask more questions and correct technique.

Are you curious how yarn is made and want to create your own? You will learn the basics of drop spindling, and how to ply yarn. You will also learn how to finish your spun yarn and to identify the many characteristics of yarn. (A new vocabulary will emerge too!)

Fiber from Sincere Sheep Beginning Spinning Class

Fiber from Beginning Spinning Class

Armed with my 2.2oz Schacht Hi-Lo Spindle from Piedmont Yarn* and my Keep Calm and Carry Yarn project bag from Etsy, I headed to class today. Brooke had several different varieties of fiber for us to play with so things got off to a great start. [Pictured above from left to right: combed top Alpaca, spun Corriedale on my spindle, combed top Corriedale, combed top Blue-Faced Leicester/ Silk blend, combed top Merino blend, and some sort of carded and dyed wool.] She’s a great teacher for this small-group class. Kept things moving, but was very open to questions and checked on our progress to give us pointers regularly.

We learned the difference between worsted and woolen yarns. As I remember, it has to do with how they’re spun and the type of yarn you end up with as a result. Worsted are more tightly spun (so denser and heavier) whereas woolens are more airy and don’t wear as well over time. Woolen yarns also give you a fuzzier result (like fair-isle) rather than a more defined edge to any colorwork.

I loved that we got to use colorful natural fibers for this class. Makes you unafraid of working on a “real” spinning project later. Brooke got us comfortable even with what we might perceive to be mistakes – with the rise of popularity in handspun yarns, you can just say you meant to make it thick and thin!

First spun ply in Corriedale

My first single ply yarn, freshly spun

For next Saturday, we’re to complete two balls of single ply so we can ply them together and make “real” yarn! There’ll be a steady chant of “spin, park, move the pinch, draft, slide” in my house this week!

*The incredibly friendly woman at Piedmont Yarn not only explained the benefits of the spindle she recommended for me in useful detail, but also gave me a decent amount of cheap fiber to practice with. I heartily recommend a visit there for beginning spinners!

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