Author Topic: Getting started with spinning  (Read 4994 times)

Hellchick

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Getting started with spinning
« on: July 29, 2009, 10:42:13 PM »
Since Sister Wolf mentioned there was talk of learning how to spin, I thought I'd start a thread in the spirit of her knitting basics thread on how to get started in learning to spin. This would be everything you'd need to know to teach yourself to do it with resources on the web or books I've used myself. I would also be very happy to answer any questions people have about the process, whether you've never done it or are in the process of trying it.

Before I list links, your best resource in learning to spin is to have someone teach you in person. That's not to say you can't learn on your own, but because spinning is a tactile thing it can be easier for someone to show you what the yarn is supposed to feel like and slide and move like that to try and understand that from videos and books. But if you don't have access to a person or class, don't be afraid to learn it on your own! It's totally possible.

You should also note that like most new skills in life, spinning can be difficult to grasp at first and it can be easily frustrating when you're first starting out. Don't let this deter you -- if you're a knitter, the joy you get from knitting something out of yarn you spun yourself is beyond compare. And it's a skill you can easily work on and improve, everyone can do it!

One of the most prolific spinning bloggers is Abby Franquemont and she's got a great article on getting started with spinning. I'll also detail some steps here for you.

1. Get a drop spindle, or make one yourself!

The first thing you need is a drop spindle. You could buy one from a local spinning supply shop or on the web, but hey, we're into making things on our own, right? A lot of people start out by making their own drop spindle from an old CD, a dowel, and a hook. Spindles are ancient and they're super simple.

Links:
Make a CD drop spindle
Another article on making a CD drop spindle


2. Get some fiber.
So now that you've got your spindle you need some fiber to spin. There's a HUGE variety of fibers to spin out there. There are two questions to answer:

What fiber do I use?
I would suggest going with 100% wool, something like New Zealand Romney or Corriedale, in what's known as "roving" form (a long rope of prepared fiber for spinning). Here's an example of New Zealand Romney in roving form. This type of wool is great to start out with because it's not too slippery (so you have more control over your yarn), and since it's in roving form it's been washed, carded, and processed into a form that's ready to spin. It doesn't have to be dyed, and usually undyed wool is cheaper so you may want to go for that.

Where do I get it?
As a beginning spinner it's probably best to try and find a spinning supply place near you so that you can check out the fiber in person. If you don't have one, etsy.com and eBay are both great resources for spinning fiber if you use "roving", "spinning", "romney" or "corriedale" as your search terms.

3. I have a spindle and fiber...now what?

Now it's time to check out some videos on how to turn that fiber into yarn you can use. Here are some links you'll want to check out:

Abby Franquemont on Spinning Basics
Another Abby Franquemont beginner video

If you're a book person like me you may want to check out some great books on spinning. Here are some I can recommend and have myself:

Hands-On Spinning
Spinner's Companion
Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning (VERY in-depth...more like a textbook than for beginners)


4. Practice, practice, practice. And don't be discouraged.

Spinning, like all things that take skill, requires practice to get reasonably good at. Some common frustrations when beginning to spin are dropping the spindle, having your yarn break, having the yarn be very lumpy and bumpy, and finding that the twist runs all the way up into your drafting zone, making it feel like you've got a bunch of tangled wool in your hand. Again, don't be discouraged. These things simply take practice. And don't worry about the lumpy-bumpy yarn...it's totally usable! The "handspun" look is in right now, so you're really just being fashionable!


5. Once you've spun a "singles", take it off the spindle and ply it.

Once you've spun some yarn onto your spindle you'll want to take it off and ply it so that you can make what's called a balanced yarn -- something you can actually knit with. Here's a great short video on how to do that.


6. Wash your yarn to set the twist.

Once you've got a plied yarn you'll want to wash it -- this sets the twist. There's a lot of info just in washing yarn but the basic idea is this: drop your skein into a small tub of very hot water with a tiny bit of detergent in it (dish soap is great). Don't agitate it! You'll felt the yarn. After about a half an hour carefully remove the skein, squeeze the water out, and do the same thing in a tub of very hot water with no soap in it. After 30 minutes, take it out, squeeze it carefully, and hang it up to dry somewhere.

7. Knit with your yarn, and love it!

Once your yarn is dry you're ready to use it! Knit a swatch with your new yarn and then frame it, hang it up, gloat over it, beam over it, whatever you want to do. You just made your own yarn!

Offline busymomx3

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Re: Getting started with spinning
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2014, 04:23:33 PM »
I'm so glad I found this thread.  I've been thinking about learning how to spin my own thread.  I love making afghans and spend a lot of money in yarn for it.  If I could make my own and get exactly the colors I wanted that would be fabulous.  I'm going to hit the craft store and look for some books and get to learning.

Offline Cedar

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Re: Getting started with spinning
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2014, 05:45:39 PM »
I've been thinking about learning how to spin my own thread. 

Welcome to the addiction.

Cedar

Offline AvenueQ

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Re: Getting started with spinning
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2014, 05:55:33 PM »
I can try to post some videos here once my hand is done healing as I have a spinning wheel. I'm not as good with a drop spindle, but I can try that too if people are interested.

Offline Cedar

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Re: Getting started with spinning
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2014, 06:47:45 PM »
I have a video somewhere, I will see if I can find it. It was the same day the draft horse stepped on my foot and broke one of my toes.

Cedar

Offline busymomx3

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Re: Getting started with spinning
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2014, 06:58:03 PM »
I figured the drop spindle would be a cheaper way to start.  I am going to start searching for a way to get fiber and such until I can get the animals to shear and have my own fiber.  It's a long term thing :).  Eventually I will learn to dye it as well.  I could take a class in Waco I think but it's super expensive.  And right now I don't have the money.  So any videos that are shared are welcome.  I'm being a sponge right now.

Offline Cedar

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Re: Getting started with spinning
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2014, 07:12:49 PM »
I figured the drop spindle would be a cheaper way to start. 

Cheapest? Half a potato and a pencil.

Here is me spinning on my Ashford Traditional. About an hour after my toe was broken. I am not looking at my best, hair needs cut, in pain, ect..... just look at the wheel and my hands! I had promised her a skein of llama wool from a particular animal she had worked with while she was visiting.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4yvUym3uyo

This is my friend Colleen, whom I had just taught how to spin about 3 minutes prior. The trick is keeping the wheel going smoothly and evenly.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4j7n1dQh3H0

Cedar
« Last Edit: July 21, 2014, 07:20:36 PM by Cedar »

Offline AvenueQ

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Re: Getting started with spinning
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2014, 07:36:24 PM »
Drop spindles range from $20 up to over $80. I prefer heavier ones as they have better momentum. You can also make your own with a dowel, a wooden wheel (I have also seen CDs used), and a small hook: http://joyofhandspinning.com/how-to-make-a-drop-spindle/

Start with wool, and preferably not a "slippery" wool like merino. This will be less frustrating to start with. Look for combed or carded roving, not fleece (fleece is unprocessed fiber, a bit much for a beginner to take on). Most roving is sold by the ounce. How much yardage you get from an ounce depends on how thick you spin the yarn. I wouldn't worry about it too much at first, just get a couple of ounces of a nice, sticky wool and see what you can do. Spinning was one of those things that was so frustrating and I couldn't get it right, and then one day POOF! I could magically do it.

As expensive as they are, if you try it and find yourself endlessly frustrated and want to give up, scrape the money together to eventually attend a class. Instructors can give so much more instantaneous feedback than the internet and it will help you build connections with other spinners. Once you get to know them, spinners can be a pretty rowdy, fun crowd ;)
« Last Edit: July 21, 2014, 07:42:12 PM by AvenueQ »

Offline KrellaKrentoshi

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Re: Getting started with spinning
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2014, 08:05:18 PM »
Hi all.  I'm christphrmurray's wife, he forwarded this thread to me. I forgot my username, so iI changed it :-) .  Cedar knows me, Hi Ceder.

anyway, what I wanted to say is this, there rrally isn't any substitute for having a mentor help you learn.  When I got into spinning, I did a Google search for spinning guilds in my area.  I found one and met 5 wonderful ladies in the guild,  2 of them sold me fleeces and taught me what to look for when fleece shopping.  2 Others gave me fleeces that had been in storage awhile and taught me how to skirt and wash the dirty fleeces.  The fifth lady was kind enough to teach myself and Chris to drop spindle and spin on her double treadle spinning wheel.  We all cringed when chris tried, he couldnt get the rhythem right and that poor wheel squeaked in protest till the lady made him stop.  I did slightly better, but her nerves were shot when we were done.  She said the experience equated to teaching teenagers to drive stick shift in a treasured car and listening to us strip the gears.  She encoraged us to keep trying (on our own wheel!) And then showed us how to use a roving machine. 

From that first 2 hr introduction, I have learned to drop spindle well on a spindle she sold me, and on the several Chris has made.  I have an Uncle who's very handy in his shop, and challenged him to make a spinning wheel.....,single treadle!  Its glorious, he used a lendrum flyer and handmade the wheel and everything else.  From that I've spun, learned how to use pokeberries to dye, and self taught myself to knit from a book.  I love books, they are very wonderful resources, but there is truly no substitute for hands on learning for spinning. 

Guys can do this too, poor chris still cant get the hang of a spinning wheel, but he can make very fine yarn on a drop spindle, and has good at making beginners spindles.  He can't knit, but he's a granny square king!

have fun on your spinning journey, it will be great!

Offline busymomx3

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Re: Getting started with spinning
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2014, 03:46:03 PM »
Well I will say the lingo is super confusing LOL.  Thank you KrellaKrentoshi for the advice on the guild.  I will use google and see what I can find.  The closest place I know is 90 mins away and further for the new place.  So I will see if there is something more local. 
Cedar I will check out those videos later tonight thanks.  Might pick up some books just to learn the lingo LOL.

Offline AvenueQ

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Re: Getting started with spinning
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2014, 04:41:42 PM »
I recommend The Intentional Spinner by Judith McCuin. It has an excellent beginner introduction to techniques, terms, and different fibers. It also has lots of more advanced info when you're ready for it. See if your library has it.

Offline KrellaKrentoshi

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Re: Getting started with spinning
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2014, 09:32:14 PM »
I recommend The Intentional Spinner by Judith McCuin. It has an excellent beginner introduction to techniques, terms, and different fibers. It also has lots of more advanced info when you're ready for it. See if your library has it.

My copy of that book has a DVD in the back that was very helpful.  As far as the cheapest spindle goes, just use a pen or sharpie.  I have used a sharpie to spin out the window of the car while waiting for my little brother to get out of school.  :-)