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Getting started with spinning

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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.

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, 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 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'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!

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.


--- Quote from: busymomx3 on July 21, 2014, 04:23:33 PM ---I've been thinking about learning how to spin my own thread. 

--- End quote ---

Welcome to the addiction.


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.

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.



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