After only three days’ practice with this new fibre, I’m making real progress! The first few yards were a bit lumpy, but I’m now spinning a much finer single. It’s still thick’n’thin in places, but less noticeably so, and I can hardly wait to ply it up and process it into a little skein!
Technically this isn’t my very first spinning project, as whilst I was waiting for my fibre to arrive I tried out the Turkish spindle with a tiny 3g sample of BFL/camel blend that I’d received from Hilltop Cloud when I bought a nostepinne. It was enough to allow me to get the gist of the process, but too little to make anything useful. I ended up with a mere three yards of very uneven 2-ply yarn:
Still, it was fun to do, so as soon as my lovely new tops arrived I set to work!
I had ordered four 100g batches: an organic Polwarth in white, a Blueface Exmoor (BFL/Exmoor hybrid breed), also in white, and two Merino d’Arles in different shades of natural brown. I decided to start with the Blueface Exmoor, as I love BFL and the longer staple makes it easier for a beginning spinner.
First I unrolled the ball of top and broke it onto four equal lengths of about 25g each. I rolled up three of these and put them back into the bag they had come in (with the label), keeping the remaining piece for my first session.
I tried spinning from the full piece, but it was too thick so I ended up dividing it lengthwise into thin strips that I could easily draft from. So far my progress hasn’t been much better than the picture above (though I haven’t plied it yet so it’s hard to tell), but I’m gradually getting the hang of it and will post more photos as I go on.
After I started knitting again, I also began listening to knitting podcasts and hanging out on Ravelry, and as a result became curious about the enthusiasm for hand-spinning. I decided that at the very least it would be a good way to understand yarn construction and become a better knitter, so when my LYS announced a “Spinning for Beginners” class, I immediately put my name down for it.
However as the weeks went by and the class date crept closer oh so slowly, I began to get impatient. I’d started listening to The Knitmore Girls podcast from the beginning, so when Jasmin added a section on spinning and began talking about Ravelry’s Tour de Fleece, there was no getting away from the idea that spinning was a fun hobby in its own right.
I started trawling the web for UK suppliers of spinning wheels and spindles, and eventually gave in to temptation. Because I will be travelling to the US during the first few days of the Tour de Fleece, I bought a small Turkish spindle which could be taken apart for easy packing. I chose this lovely little 34g model from Kerry Spindles in Yorkshire, made from European hardwoods (yew and walnut):
A spindle is no use without fibre to spin, though! I’d heard that undyed wool is best for beginners, as there’s less chance of being stuck with a duff felted batch, so I ordered a selection of tops (combed fleece) from John Arbon and P & M Woolcraft. This week I started spinning, with the aid of Abby Franquemont’s excellent YouTube videos (and a few others specifically about Turkish spindles), and I’m going to post my progress on this blog for posterity