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In a Spin!

March 4, 2009

It’s been a lovely day – I’ve spent most of it making this:


Yes, I know it doesn’t look like much but I’m very proud of it as it’s my very first (very small) skein of wheel-spun yarn and I’m hoping many more will follow! The reason I’ve been able to indulge in a whole day of fibre-related activity is thanks to a spinning course at the Court Cupboard Craft Gallery in Monmouthshire – oh, and my lovely husband who kindly took the day off work to look after baby small.

I’d not done much spinning beforehand – I’d been very enthusiastic when I first got my drop spindle, but had quickly become frustrated when it didn’t ‘click’ straightaway and instead spent my crafting time on things I could do more easily (namely crochet). I wasn’t ready to give up though and decided that the best way to get to grips with spinning was to do a course. I’m really glad I did – not only has it helped with the spinning but it was lovely to spend time with interesting people who are living the sort of lifestyle I aspire to. I’d never thought I could get so much pleasure from discussing sheep breeds! But, I digress…


The course was very informal which was really helpful as it allowed plenty of opportunities for questions – and I had quite a few of those! We spent the morning drop spindling and carding then in the afternoon I got my first taste of using a wheel. I can’t say I took to it straight away – after having so much control over the spindle, I found the speed of the wheel a bit dizzying. It felt as if the wheel was constantly snatching the fibre out of hands to begin with but, after playing with the tension a bit, I found a speed I was comfortable with and towards the end of the day I actually started to get the hang of it. My yarn was not exactly pretty – it had way too much spin in places and not enough in others but with more practice I’m certain this would improve.

I now feel much more comfortable with my drop spindle and think that in time I could come to feel similarly at home with a wheel. In fact, I’m weighing up whether or not to invest in one – they cost a lot (the lovely one I used today costs £480 new) so I need to be sure that it would get plenty of use. The inclination is certainly there but would I have the time? It already takes me quite a long time to complete projects due to only having the odd snatched half hour here and there to work on them. How much longer would they spend languishing in my yarn bag if I also had to spin the wool for them?! That said, I’ve always believed that if you want to do something enough, you make time for it. 

I guess the really big incentive for me is being able to be involved with every of a project – being able to take raw fleece and transform it into something wonderful. It sits nicely with my ideas about sustainability and self-sufficiency and also greatly appeals to the control-freak designer in me who has very precise ideas about the yarn I want for a project but normally ends up settling for something that’s not quite what I dreamt of. Well, if I could make it myself – that would no longer be a problem! Hmmmm, I might have just talked myself into it! Next step, convince my husband! 

11 Comments leave one →
  1. March 4, 2009 9:58 pm

    You are so clever with crochet and your creations are wonderful. I am quite sure once you have the hang of spinning your own wool it will be a real pleasure to spend some time here and there creating wool in colours and textures that suit your requirements and then to go on to making a beautiful garment from this wool… it would be fantastic…. well worth the time and money spent on it… you never know it could lead to making and selling your own designed works of art!!
    Have I talked you into it yet??? lol!!!
    Love Jane xxx

  2. dowhatyoulove permalink
    March 5, 2009 5:51 am

    It looks lovely! Spinning is so much fun. I have not had the chance to try a wheel yet, but have gotten to play around with a drop spindle some. I think working on a wheel would be so much fun, but at this time I dont have enough focus on fiber craft to justify buying one.
    Thats great that you got to take the class, and meet neat people. If you are passionate about it, I bet it wont take any work at all to convince your husband! =)

  3. March 5, 2009 9:07 am

    Thank you both!

    Jane – don’t think I need much convincing – I spent last night dreaming about spinning and treadling in my sleep! Hope all is well with you. x

    Stacey – my husband has offered to buy me one! Yay! It’s dependent on his bonus though so I have a whole 5 months to wait! Patience is not one of my virtues…….

  4. March 5, 2009 2:57 pm

    It looks great, and lovely colour as well.
    Sounds like course was just the thing you needed. I’m sure you’ll be an expert in no time!

  5. March 6, 2009 4:51 pm

    Very cool. Sounds fun. I’d imagine the spinning wheel would take some getting used to.

    It seems you must have dyed the wool beforehand. I’m curious, what did you dye it with and is that the normal order of events? I ask because I once watched a demonstration where already spun yard was dyed in big vats of plant-based dye.

    Also, your post brings to mind Schubert’s Gretchen am Spinnrade (Gretchen at the spinning wheel). Do you know it? It’s lovely.

  6. March 6, 2009 6:13 pm

    Hi Wil – I didn’t dye the fibre myself but the stuff on the drop spindle was hand-dyed and the wheel-spun stuff was dyed commercially. You can dye the fibre before spinning or dye the finished yarn – it depends on what effect you’re after I think. I’ve not done any dyeing myself yet although I fully intend to! I’m very interested in natural plant dyes and hope to find time to experiment with that over the summer – again this ties in with my smallholding dream as I could keep sheep and grow the dye plants and be completely self-sufficient in yarn as a result!

    Yes, the Schubert piece is rather lovely – I’m listening to it now! Thanks for reminding me of it – it’s been a long time since I listened to it. When I play music these days it tends to be Hickory Dickory Dock or the likes….. 🙂

  7. March 7, 2009 2:14 pm

    Yikes that is pretty pricy isn’t it.. I can see why you would deliberate on it.. maybe you could find a used one? They are such a simple devise if there was anything wrong with it , I’m sure it could be figured out and fixed.. I know I have “McGivered” a few things on mine and it works even better than before!!
    Your writing here is how I felt about it when I first was lured to the thrill of spinning… It never goes away.. sometimes I don’t have enough time but it is like riding a bike.. once you have it.. it never goes away!!

    Your yarn looks splendid!!!

    …it is rather time consuming when raising an animal tending it, shearing it , cleaning the wool and then preparing it for spinning and then finally getting to spinning and/or dying but it is a Labor of Love and I’m glad I had a chance to have the animals in my life (from years ago) to have done it.. It felt so good and time seemed to slow down.. my 3 older children were younger then and they really developed a love of animals too..

    The life you are dreaming of is one I would personally recommend…

  8. thegardensmallholder permalink
    March 7, 2009 10:28 pm

    Good luck with convincing your husband, if it makes you happy go for it xx

  9. March 9, 2009 4:01 pm

    that looks so good! I got my Ashford wheel, brand new, for about £220. Ebay had about four at the time but the prices were getting close to a £200 anyway so I decided to go with a new one.

    can’t wait tot see what you make with your yarn!!!


  10. March 9, 2009 8:25 pm

    Well done with your spinning. I’m hoping to do a course this year too, it’s always worthwhile having proper tuition for things like that. Hope I can produce a nice skein of wool like yours one day.

  11. March 31, 2009 7:34 am

    when you find out how to convice your husband let me know so I can convince mine that I really need a spinning wheel:-)

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