Thought it was time to come back to my 2012 plan to learn to spin. I worked with the drop spindle on and off ( mostly off) throughout last winter, and basically set it aside when summer hit. Fast forward to now, and the lovely Baynes spinning wheel my kind brother-in-law has lent me. It’s a dual pedal model – pretty snazzy 🙂
So to start, I got it all set up in front of my favorite Amish hickory rocker in front of the fireplace, brewed a tasty cup of pumpkin spice coffee from my sister’s coffee shop, and got to work. An hour later, I had an empty cup of coffee, a small pile of broken off pieces of alpaca roving, and an enormous sense of frustration. Then I sent an SOS call for help, disguised as a dinner invitation, to my brother-in-law and his wife.
We bribed them with steak and Zuppa Toscana and then got some serious help with my spinning. It seems that in order to spin the fiber, one must thread it onto the bobbin in the direction opposite of what I had been doing. Don’t ask, I have no idea what I was thinking…. Ah ha!
It also seems that alpaca is a mighty lofty spinning goal, and I am much better off getting started with some good old fashioned handwashed and carded wool (thanks again to awesome inlaws).
The deep soft brown is alpaca from Cardinal Acre Alpacas, and the lighter handcrafted wool is from Lauridell Acres.
So back to work I go- spinning away… Lo and behold: it is yarn!! I am making yarn!!!
I won’t be knitting any sweaters from my handspun yarn anytime soon- but I am feeling pretty good nonetheless for sticking with the idea of learning to spin and not letting it remain a craft that seemed too mysterious and difficult to try. The kids are fascinated as they watch the process, and probably the best possible outcome would be for one of them to master the art of spinning and carry it on into their generation.
Second week of spinning lessons using the drop spindle. This time we worked at“spinning in the grease”… using raw wool shorn right off of my brother-in-law Ryan’s happy flock of sheep from their farm (http://lauridellacres.com/index.html). (We see them every week, and to me they look like very happy sheep- grazing away with nary a care in the world… ah, to be a sheep.) It is definitely a different experience than spinning the roving of alpaca I started working with last week.
Couple of thoughts:
1. My hands have NEVER been softer. The lanolin that exists in the natural state of this raw wool is an incredible moisturizer for dry, rough winter skin.
2. Being so very new at learning to draft the fleece, spinning in the grease did seem easier to do, as the fibers so readily “stuck” to one another. It took a little work at first to understand the process of folding the fleece so that the tips were in the inside and I was spinning from the “cut side”- which moved the spinning along with much less frustration!
1. You have to REALLY dig the smell of sheep, seriously, because you and everything around you is going to smell like a sheep. (Of course, perhaps you do love that smell, and this would be a“Pro” in your list.)
2. You have to spend a lot more time “connecting” or adding in the pieces when it’s raw than from a carded roving…which can be a wee bit trying on your patience when you are new at it and really want to see some yarn spinning before your eyes.
3. Did I mention that you will smell like a sheep?
So…I am glad to have had a chance to learn this technique, and appreciate the idea of a beautiful skein of wool that has been created from this most natural state… and the amazingly soft skin on my hands right now, but I think I’m going to switch back to my pile of roving and see what I can spin with it.
I’m Spinning!!!!!! okay, well I am spinning fiber anyways! Check off #2 on the “things to start learning in 2012” list. I had my first lesson today, for which I am ever so grateful to my very talented sheep-herding-master-0f-the-spinning-wheel brother-in-law! This doesn’t look like much, but I feel like I am finally on my way with this- which is good because when your mother owns alpacas and other family own sheep and all anyone ever talks about is fiber, fiber, fiber- you WANT to know how to spin the stuff. With just one lesson, I can see that this is going to take A LOT of practice to create an even, balanced yarn. We are beginning with the drop spindle rather than just hopping straight onto the spinning wheel- which means I’ll have to cool my heels on that lovely vision of a winter spent by the fireplace spinning gorgeous fibers into beautiful yarns…. but all things in time. Probably a good thing, really, since I imagine it’s going to take some serious bargaining with the hubby to talk him into diverting cash into a spinning wheel! Perhaps if I wave a picture of a shiny new golf club in front of him I can distract him long enough to agree to this expenditure…
Looking at this, I realize it’s probably going to be a looooooong while before we need to have that spinning wheel/golf club talk… That’s okay, we’ll have the fireplace burning next winter, too. Or maybe the winter after that… now that I look at this spindle again…
Having declared an official “staycation” this year because the hubby’s new job (yay!!) has not kicked in with vacation time yet (boo!), I decided it was finally time to get back to work on these jewelry projects I started last winter- making jewelry out of roving. I bought a bunch of gorgeously dyed roving last year at different fiber shows with a grand aspiration to learn to spin and have them ready to knit into something fabulous over the winter. Of course, that was until I tried to learn to spin. My brother-in-law Ryan is an amazing spinner…and I am not. I mean, I’ll keep trying to learn of course…but I quickly decided I needed to find a new purpose for all this beautiful roving and landed on felted balls for jewelry. I love the idea of finding another way to wear these beautiful fibers!
This is one I just finished today:
I found this soft turquoise and teal 100% alpaca roving at the Empire Alpaca Show in Syracuse. Had a little trouble with the wet-felting of these balls, so I ended up finishing by needle-felting them until they were solid. The beads are sterling silver ones I found on sale at JoAnn’s last spring.
Here’s my first attempt at making a felted necklace. I’ve actually worn this one quite a few times. It’s from a very earthy blend alpaca/merino wool in oranges, browns, greens and yellows that I bought at the Hemlock Fiber Festival. This was also my 1st try at wet-felting…which took a number of trials and some tutoring from videos on YouTube before I finally got the hang of it. Love it with the big wooden beads.
I’m toying with the idea of making these to sell… we’ll see how that pans out.