Saturday, March 2, 2013

Learning to Spin

Drop Spindle, Wool Roving, and Yarn (that I made).
The book Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont
is the only teacher I have had and though my yarn is
not perfect it is yarn.
Ever since I got Muffy the wool sheep, I was always curious about learning to make wool into yarn. I crochet, so I figure it would be neat to be able to make something from her wool. As stated in previous posts, sheep wool, raw from the animal, can be dirty and gross. It has to go through a lengthy process whereby it is skirted (the very dirty parts cut away from the fleece), washed sometimes with chemicals or hot water and detergent to remove poo and plant parts as well as dirt, carded to part and fluff the fibers, set into roving (long, fat strands to spin by), and then drawn (drafted) thin and spun. After wool is spun into a single strand of string, it is then plied with one or more other strands of string to make yarn. Are you tired yet?

Spinning with a drop spindle (pictured above) is an ancient craft. It requires a simple tool and some fiber. Since I don't know how far I will take this new ability, I am not keen on spending a great deal of money on fancier spinning tools like a spinning wheel or large carding tool. The blue roving pictured above is not from my sheep, but came with the spindle and niddy noddy as a beginner's spinning kit.

There is a learning curve. It took me several trial and error attempts to figure out that I needed to spin from very thinly drafted roving. It is something I do in weird patches of spare time. It's a fairly mindless task that can be stopped in seconds if there is an interruption. In the rare instances that I sit down with my family to watch TV, I'm usually spinning. Since the spindle and roving are small, I sometimes toss them into a canvas tote bag and take them to 4H meetings where I can both listen and spin.

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