Something happened to me in mid-August. I woke up one morning with the absolute certainty that I must learn to spin yarn. Maybe it was what I referred to as “the Rumpelstiltskin incident” in a previous post. Or maybe it was my conscience steering me toward more sustainable materials for my fiber creations.
For a while now I’ve been enamored with many of the natural fiber yarns, both their feel while working with them and the textures of the finished fabric they create. and with the exception of “wormkiller” silk, I feel they are for the most part both animal and planet friendly. They are, of course, always more expensive than their acrylic and nylon counterparts, and usually out of my price range unless I find a fabulous sale, so the best I can usually do with new yarn is a blend of natural fibers with acrylic, better, but not where I really want to be.
On occasion I see a funky art yarn on Etsy or Pinterest and wish I had something like it to work with, but again, if it’s even available, it’s out of my price range. We no longer have a local yarn store in my part of NEPA, so for yarn sources we have our choice of the four big-box craft stores found all over suburban America. And lately it seems that all of the sweaters in resale shops are made of acrylic yarns, so none worth unraveling to reuse the yarn.
I researched online, watched a few videos, found instructions on building a drop spindle for little or no money. Went to craft store, bought a dowel and a toy car wheel.
Dug out the wool roving I had in my stash for felting projects. Started spinning, very badly. Kept trying. Ran out of roving. Practiced tying on, and plying with scrap yarns.
Fell madly, ridiculously in love with this oh-so-ancient, but new-to-me art form. Inhaled as much information as I could via YouTube. I found some excellent resources for a beginning spinner, to name just a few:
Abby Franquemont has the best video tutorials for beginning to use a spindle:
Ashley Martineau shows you how to enter into the world of art yarn with your own little drop spindle, a thing I hadn’t thought possible:
Visited the Endless Mountains Fiber Festival on September 7, with Baby Girl, my sister-in-law who also crochets and knits, and her Baby Girl. We had a great time drinking maple milkshakes and looking at all the bunnies, alpacas, and sheep. I’d never seen so much beautiful yarn in one place before. Bought roving from 3 different vendors, about 6 ounces worth. Discussed spinning with anyone willing to talk to me about it which was pretty much everyone there. Next year’s event is the weekend of September 12. Definitely planning to go.
Back at home, made a few more spindles of different weights and styles. Decided I like top whorl better than bottom whorl, and spindles made from old CD’s- not at all. Kept trying. Started obsessively collecting empty paper towel and toilet paper tubes. (Baby Girl is not happy about this – they were some of her favorite things to play with.) Spun wool. Spun VHS tape. Spun more wool. Practiced plying.
3 weeks later: need more fiber. Ounces seemed like a lot, but it went fast. Also, it appears that you need to spin a lot to get enough yarn to knit or crochet anything. I think I may need poundage. There are so many sources on Etsy, but each shop’s fiber is more gorgeous than the last, I don’t even know where to start. I research Kool-Aid dyeing and briefly consider the Rumpelstiltskin yarn SP brought me from Vermont. ( Only briefly. That yarn, I have pretty much decided, is going to become a magnificent lace shawl just for me- as soon as I have time to devote to such a project…)
Still in love. This is not a flash-in-the-pan infatuation, I really want to learn how to do this well. I’m dreaming of the day when I’ll have the skills and resources to be able to create the yarns I already see in my imagination. Decided I’m sticking with wool as my main spinning fiber until I am really good at spinning it. Told SP I want a wheel for Christmas. ( Besides the aforementioned yarn, prior gifts from him have included a chair-sized foot shiatsu machine, a 1970 Oldsmobile, a 2 person infrared sauna, and most recently, a tenor ukelele – so I do not think my request for a spinning wheel is all that unusual or out of line.) I am hoping to make a trip to the BIG New York fiber fest at Rhinebeck next month. There, I’ll be able to get some more fiber, and if SP comes, show him what I mean when I say I want a spinning wheel.