A wheel, and two spindles.

Some of you may have figured out that spinning has snuck into my life on little cat feet. I was seriously worried my brain would get rusty without the chance to learn something new, so for my 39th birthday last May, I gave myself spinning lessons at my LYS. I got it, I practiced, yet I never really got into it – so I figured I would wait to post about spinning until I had a real story to tell, beyond “It’s okay, and I really like A Fine Fleece.”

Then I got a wheel. The story of my Matchless is equal parts “It was a great deal”, “I think the Matchless is the most beautiful wheel ever”, and “I can do anything if I put my mind to it.” I was pretty certain it was crazy to try and spin a sweater’s-worth of yarn for a Fine Fleece pattern any other way than with a wheel, but learning to use the wheel has been hard, in part because I assumed it would be easier.

Wheelspinning feels exactly like when I learned to drive; before I learned the finer points of using hand controls, my driving instructor said he wanted me to try using the brake and accelerator pedals with my feet. Hand controls are simple: pull the lever down to accelerate, push the lever forward to brake. Adding my feet into the mix felt like there was way too much going on at once – and trying to treadle, keep the twist from traveling into the drafting triangle, draft, and allow the single to wind onto the bobbin…well, let’s just say I’ve been getting friendly with my orifice hook (and swearing a lot). I’m ridiculously happy to have the wheel, but the learning curve has been steep.

Camphor and Oak Spindle, top view I realized I needed a plan B – if I wanted to actually learn how to spin (and continue improving), I would have to set a goal. So in March, I wrote down “Finish knitting a pair of handspun socks” on my to-do list with a date of December 31. And when I said “My beginner spindle isn’t really working out for me” Knit One Purl Too’s spindle-crafting expert (aka my husband, the woodworker) made me one. For the curious, the finished spindle is just under an ounce, and this is a Corriedale/alpaca blend courtesy of Etsy – I ordered a whopping 8 ounces, so I’ve had plenty to practice with. I’ve also spun with a nice merino/silk blend from Ashland Bay – but that’s not for socks.

All Spun Up Merino This is. It’s the May spinalong fiber from Kristin at AllSpunUp; I told myself I was going to wait to spin it until I had more practice, but that lasted about 48 hours. Shockingly, this is just a tenth of an ounce (on a 40th birthday present .45 oz Golding Tsunami), so I suspect I’m spinning fine enough to get 2- or 3-ply sock yarn. They won’t be perfect, but I am going to end up loving these socks with the fire of a thousand suns – my brain and my feet will be happy, and if I spend the rest of my life learning to be a better spinner…well, wouldn’t that be fun?

2 thoughts on “A wheel, and two spindles.

  1. Sharon

    There you go. This is how I’m feeling about weaving….it will keep my brain active for the rest of my hopefully very long life. But in case it doesn’t, I might just have to try spinning at some point. In the meantime, I will enjoy it vicariously through you.

  2. Jennifer

    With so much pretty yarn in the world, I did not understand the desire to spin yarn until a year ago. I was on overload from my day job but wanted to have my fingers in fiber at the end of the day without the structure of knitting. The thing that changed my life about spinning with a spinning wheel was learning to spin from the fold. Have you tried that? I can control the drafting and I didn’t feel like the wheel was controlling me.


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