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5 Quick Tips for Beginning Spinning on a Spindle

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As you know I only started spinning a week ago, but I thought some tips from a beginner’s point of view, may help other struggling beginners.

A little bit goes a long way.

You need a very thin strip of fiber to spin yarn, and to this end you need to prepare your roving before you begin. The process of easing the fiber out to spin is called ‘drafting’, and it determines the thickness of your unplied yarn. Predrafting is an easy, calming exercise, and you can do it while watching TV, chatting to a friend, or even waiting for a program to load (especially if you’re on Windows!). Thanks to Yarnhog for her help, check out her pre-drafting tutorial.

Watch the drafting triangle.

Hold the fiber splayed out with your thumb and forefinger to form a triangle. If the fibers are nicely spread, the roving is easier to draft. Make sure there is no twist in the drafting triangle.

Wind tight.

When winding yarn onto your spindle, keep it quite tight, and try to fill your spindle in a cone shape, wider at the top than the bottom. This will help your spindle spin longer, even when it’s getting full. Also try to keep about 1” of the bottom of the spindle free from yarn, to make it easier to spin it.

Your spindle is full when you decide it’s full.

You’ll notice your spindle get slower and more cumbersome as it fills, but as long as the experience isn’t becoming too annoying, you can keep going. If your spindle has no notch, and you’re having trouble with your yarn slipping as your spindle fills, have a look at this helpful Knitty article.

Keep your pre-drafted roving out of the way.

Wind your roving around your wrist like a bracelet to keep it from drifting against the yarn you’re spinning, or things can get messy!

Do you have any tips that helped you as a beginner? Leave them in the comments. Have a lovely weekend!

8th May, 2009  // Spinning, Technique // tags: , , , .

Wonderwool Wales Tales

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I was at Wonderwool Wales on Sunday, and it was such a treat! Living in the Welsh countryside I’m surrounded by sheep, but I have yet to find a yarn shop close by that stocks anything inspiring. I spend ages looking at yarn (longingly) online, but to actually be able to see and TOUCH it all was simply overwhelming. Seeing all the Ravelry badges, the smiling faces, and finally meeting some of the lovely people I follow on the internet was also very exciting, and I even spotted Sasha Kagan holding a workshop! I’d love to share my small purchases, but most of them are intended as gifts, and I must be a little secretive. I did get some Faery Lace from Fyberspates though, which is all my own.

my first handspun!

I have known for a long time that if I ever tried spinning, I would be hooked, and I really didn’t want anything else taking away from my knitting time (and fund!). Well, all such prudence vanished from my mind when I spotted a lovely spinning starter kit at the Blueberry Angoras stand. Angora! Having grown up in Ankara, I decided it was fate that I should start spinning with angora mohair. I could hardly wait to get home to try it out, but on sunday evening the only winding I managed was to wind myself up. I could spin about 2 inches of yarn which just grew kinkier and kinkier. But knitting hasn’t taught me anything if it hasn’t taught me patience, so I calmly put the spindle aside.

I spun all night, metre after metre flying through my dreams. On Monday I watched all the Youtube videos on the subject again, and realised my problem was with the elusive term, ‘drafting’. Spinners throw this word out with much abandon, but it took me a while to understand it, and even now I’m not sure I’ve fully grokked it. I do know that I was trying to spin a thin yarn with way too much fiber though, and separating the roving out into thinner strips helped a lot. I still do a lot of stopping and frantic drafting, but I managed a vaguely consistent yarn. It’s magic watching the spindle spin and spin and spin, the twist shoot like electric up the fiber, and the way the spinning thread will pull everything (fiber, hair) into it, like a small tornado. Having spun all my fiber I tried to ‘set the twist’, but the twist has no intention of settling just yet. The yarn writhes with energy, too full of my novice over-enthusiasm, and its own life. The angora is gorgeous, so soft and nice-smelling, and I would love to travel over every inch of yarn again with my knitting needles, but I think perhaps my first handspun is fated for a small hank, to mark the beginning of another journey.

Participating in Fiber Arts Friday.

28th April, 2009  // Life, Spinning, Yarn // tags: , , , .

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