Monday, March 17, 2008

First spinning

The spinning class absolutely rocked. We spent the morning talking about spinning in general, how it works and why it's important to have balanced yarn, and how to spin on a high-whorl spindle.
Basically, spinning yarn is just twisting fiber together. If you're knitting and your yarn is not balanced (more twist in one direction than the other), the knit fabric you make will end up skewing. Even if you block it straight, it will skew again as soon as it comes in contact with moisture or even humidity.
Here is my first yarn ever:

The blue bits are where I tried to add a blue mohair lock so the end of it would stick out as a tuft. The tuft part fell off, alas, but the blue still looks nice against the natural wool.
It's really funny that it took me all morning to make about three yards of yarn. Well, not that funny, I guess. But we spun and spun and spun, and then she showed us how to ply the yarn with the spindle. After taking forever to spin, I thought I would never finish plying in time for lunch! But when you have such a short little bit of yarn, it takes almost no time at all to ply it.
After lunch, we worked on the same concepts on a spinning wheel. Here is my first wheel-spun yarn:

We also talked about carding fibers together and designing your own yarn. Here is my blend:

I had a total blast and met some really cool people. It is always fabulous hanging out with a bunch of other fiber nuts, and everyone was very encouraging, since I was one of only two first-time spinners in the class. I loved it, and now I have a new expensive item on my wish list: a spinning wheel! In class I was using a Babe spinning wheel, which is about as inexpensive as you can get for a new wheel. I'm glad I got to try it out. The one I was using worked fine and was pretty easy to use. I'd like to have a wooden one, though. On etsy, I found some mostly wooden ones that appear to use bicycle wheels, and they're about the same price as the Babe. I'm tempted, especially since the Babe is not adjustable at all as far as the ratio between the wheel size and the size of the thing that turns the bobbin. That ratio controls how quickly twist goes into the yarn, and the ones on etsy at least have two settings instead of just one.
Anyway, I did buy a high-whorl spindle and some gorgeous fiber at the seminar. There were incredible prices on yarn, fiber, and tools. I heard a few ladies mention being on a yarn diet as we went into the sales area. I, too, had no intention of buying any more yarn, but it went about like any other diet. I ended up with some gorgeous firey-colored mohair and some crazy thick and thin novelty yarn that's very colorful and has lots of little fluffs sticking out the sides. Up to that point, I had been discouraged about how uneven the yarn I had spun was, but as I found myself unable to resist this yarn, I realized that the exact properties I was down on in my own yarn were what made me like this stuff. That cheered me right up.
I did some more spinning over the weekend with my spindle (when I wasn't combing antique shops for spinning wheels--I guess that only bears fruit in the north). I'm getting the yarn much more even. More pictures tomorrow.

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