Spinning!

Average Temperature: 34°

Precipitation: None

Yarn Colors: Blue

Even though I technically have every Monday off & this is the 5th Monday since we got back from the honeymoon, I feel like this is really the first day I’ve had off since we’ve gotten back. I guess this probably has something to do with the fact that the last four Mondays were something like this:

  • Monday 1: Got back at 2 am from our flight from Florida. Ryan stayed home from work, I spent the day getting the house back together after being gone for 2 weeks
  • Monday 2: Name Change with social Security Office. Cleaning. Errands around town
  • Monday 3: DMV for license name change, Walgreens for new passport photos, bank for name change on accounts, town hall for car registration renewal, post office to mail Passport Renewal documents, 4 hours of cleaning.
  • Monday 4: Ryan stayed home; cleaning & binge watching Sword Art Online

I did the rest of the cleaning already, laundry is good to go so I finally FINALLY after months of not having the time or energy, got to spin today for about an hour.

No, Not That Kind of Spinning

When we moved up here, almost 2 years ago, I was stunned at the amount of independent/designer yarn shops they had up here. I had to drive crazy distances to find non-synthetic yarn in Florida, & while we had one independent store that stocked actual wool yarn about 20 minutes from my house, they didn’t last very long. Anything that isn’t a chain doesn’t last long in the area I lived in Florida.

Anyways, each of the yarn shops up here had something I had never seen or considered before: spinning wheels. How cool would it be to spin my own yarn? My curiosity turned into enchantment when Ryan took me to the annual Sheep & Wool festival in May 2015. EVERYONE spun their own wool there. There were vendors from all over New England & 9 out of 10 vendors had spinning wheels set up in their stalls, where they were selling their hand spun & hand dyed yarn, raw fiber in every blend imaginable & would spin in between customers. I had never wanted to learn anything so bad in my life.

Learning Curve

In the Fall of 2015, Ryan bought me a drop spindle. We had talked about it &, at the time, it seemed logical for me to learn to use a drop spindle before moving on to the spinning wheel…& I couldn’t get it. I watched YouTube video after YouTube video, & nothing. After a few weeks of trying on my own, I decided to go into my favorite yarn shop, The Fiber Studio, & ask them. Janet who works there sat down with me for over an hour. I sort of got the hang of it (she was extremely patient) & I practiced for a few weeks but still couldn’t get a hang of it. It never got easier.

Best Advice & Lessons

One of the things Janet said to me while she was teaching me how to use the drop spindle gave me hope for months: most spinners use the wheel & can’t stand the drop spindle -if they use the drop spindle at all. Just because I couldn’t get the hang of the drop spindle didn’t mean I wouldn’t be able to learn on the wheel.

Fast forward to March 2016. My dad wants to know what I want for my birthday & apparently wind chimes aren’t an acceptable birthday request. So I asked him for spinning lessons, as there was an elderly woman who is supposed to be the best teacher for spinning. He agrees & off I went to the Wool Room to learn how to spin from Anne.

Anne has been teaching people to spin yarn since her early 20s (she’s in her 80s now) & for $100 she offers 3 private spinning lessons in her yarn shop at her house. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn from Anne. She went through the history of spinning, has examples of most of the basic types of Spinning wheels & spindles through history as well as across cultures.
Anne walks you through every step of the spinning process, not just the wheel. From Yue shearing, to cleaning & carding the wool, spinning, plying & setting the yarn. She also gets you on the wheel the first day of class & sends you home with the wheel for practice over the week until the next class.

It was a 100% immersion class. Anne told me on the first class that at least 15 minutes a day would get me into spinning…& by the end of the third week I had my first skein of spun yarn. I was hooked.

My Wheel

The wheel Anne taught me on was an Louet Single Treadle (1 paddle). It was a nice little wheel, but I have knee/hip problems & only using one foot for spinning while the other remained firmly planted on the floor really agitated my knee/hip issues. Ryan & I did some research & we decided it might be worth it for me to have a double treadle wheel (2 paddles).

I did a lot of research before I bought my wheel in April 2016. Spinning wheels are by no stretch of the imagination cheap, especially a double treadle, so I started looking for a used spinning wheel. This is when I learned that once people buy a spinning wheel, they hold on to them, even if they buy a new one or never use them.

Striking out there, I started doing more extensive research online. After countless hours, it looked like my best choice was an Ashford Kiwi. It was small, double treadle, fairly affordable (for a spinning wheel) & seemed like it got the best reviews for a beginner’s wheel across the board. I was afraid I was going to have to order it online & pray it worked for me but it ended up The Fiber Studio had an Ashford Kiwi 2 in stock.

One of the biggest, most important things any spinner will tell a beginner is TEST THE WHEELS BEFORE YOU BUY. This is huge. Just because the price is right doesn’t mean this wheel will work for you. At the Fiber Studio, I tried all of their double treadle wheels to make sure I got the best fit for me. It ended up that it was the Kiwi 2, so it worked out all around.

Fun fact about the Kiwi 2 is that most of them are sold unfinished:

Which means…you get to paint it anyway you want!!! It took us all weekend to disassemble my wheel, paint & stain it, then reassemble, but it was so worth it & we had so much fun:

My Spinning

For the first few months, I was spinning almost daily & loving it. I definitely think the variegated fibers are the most fun to spin with but there’s something to be said for single color fiber.

Double-ply, finished yarn.

Just enough for a beanie! Gave this to my boss for Christmas.

Unfortunately, as the wedding got closer & I went back to working full time, I had less free time for everything, let alone spinning. I’ve found that spinning is really a morning activity for me. If I start, even in the early, afternoon I get frustrated easier & my hands don’t cooperate at much. The zen from the spinning gets wasted if I do an afternoon spin.

Gurney loves fiber

Pre-ply 

Finished yarn

Today

So amidst everything this weekend (including the as-of-yet-unfinished baby blanket) I had time to spin for an hour this morning. I have to have a loose piece of yarn attached to a bobbin whole spinning so Gurney doesn’t try to attack the wheel…

…but that doesn’t stop him from getting bored & stealing my fiber.

Still…managed to get a good amount done.

Off to fold laundry & try to get that Maybaby blanket finished before I go in to work to sub for a class.

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