14 August 2009

I take the plunge

The news of my LYS moving to another city, over hour's bus ride away from where I live, when it used to be a ten-minute walk from my home, was saddening. I was also suddenly filled with a little bit of panic. Where else was I going to be able to go and drool over spindles and roving while thinking about buying one of those things and learning to spin? The other yarn store in the area, to my knowledge, doesn't carry these things (I've only been there a few times since I have no car and I'm only in that area of town on Sundays for church, and they're closed then).

I caught the spinning bug earlier this year, in the spring. Like knitting, it was something that I toyed with for a while in my head before succumbing. I watched people at knit night (spinning is a hypnotic activity). I read books. I admired the roving at the LYS. And the spindles--oh, they have some lovely handmade spindles there. One of my friends, the one who taught me to knit and started this whole fiber addiction, said, "Hey, we should learn to spin together this fall!" I agreed, thinking it sounded like fun. Sherie, me, a couple of drop spindles, some fiber, and a lot of laughter. Sounded good. So I thought happily about it all summer, looked forward to it, and a couple weeks ago, I bought my spindle. I'm starting early.

I talked with a friend at knitting group about what she thought was good for a beginner and what she recommended, so that's why I ended up with a Turkish spindle. Most of the spindles I'd seen before had been top-whorl spindles, with a disc-shaped whorl near the top of the shaft. I'd seen pictures of bottom-whorl spindles, with the whorl at the bottom, and Turkish spindles, where the whorl is made of two interlocking pieces of wood that form a cross, which the yarn is wrapped around as it is spun. You have to stop every once in a while to wind the yarn around, but when you're done, you slide the whorl off, slip out the pieces of wood, and you have a centre-pull ball. Ingenious.

So, that's why I have a Turkish spindle. It's pretty (although not as pretty as some top-whorl spindles I've seen--those seem to be more prone to decoration). I found some roving (at least, I think it's roving--there are all these names out there and I haven't gotten them all sorted out yet--maybe it's top) in pretty shades of indigo. A bundle of that is way more fun to hug than a ball of yarn. I could hardly stop looking at it and wanting to pet it.

When I got home, I looked up some videos and discovered after a few goofs, that when I spin with this spindle, I have to make a half-hitch near the top of the shaft (Why is it tipping sideways? Oh. That's why! All better now!). Then you give the whorl a spin and off you go.

Every time I seem to be getting better at spinning, I make another goof. The yarn is slowly becoming more even each time I practice, but then I do something that makes it lumpy. Or that makes it extra twisty (sounds like some kind of chicken). I seem to have problems with either over-twisting or under-twisting the yarn. It's going to be pretty interesting-looking single ply yarn (until I can produce a consistent result, I don't plan to try plying my yarn).

I started out standing, figuring that gave me more time. Now I'm trying sitting. Shorter lengths mean I concentrate more on what I'm doing. I looked up some of the various ways of drafting. Right now I take about a yard or so of the top, separate it into finer lengths, and work from those. Probably overkill, but until my spinning improves, this works.

I knit a coaster from the first very lumpy bits of yarn I made. It's blue and fuzzy and now lives underneath a vase on my coffee table. It was very lumpy. The next bit, a little less so. The stuff I just took off my spindle tonight? Even better. It still varies in thickness, but overall it's becoming finer. I'll have to wash it and set the twist and see what I can do with it. If there's enough, there's this hat pattern I want to try that was designed for handspun. If not, well, I can spin more. There's still quite a bit of top left in that bag.

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