Daily Archives: March 16, 2007

The Dropped Spindle

This evening will mark a week since the spinning obsession began. I’m still intrigued, fascinated, perplexed by the whole notion of spinning, and expect to continue to be so for a long time (or until something else comes up).

Some things I have learned in my first week:

– It is not called a drop spindle for nothing. “Dropped” spindle would be even more appropriate.

– Knitting is much easier to teach your self than spinning, if you rely upon internet resources. Knitters share. Spinners hoard their esoteric knowledge: perhaps one needs to find the appropriate coven (guild?) before one can be initiated into the Way of the Spindle.

– Concensus appears to dictate that while it is easier to learn how to spin on a drop spindle, this is only to draw you into spinning on a wheel. Anyone who wants to spin on a drop spindle alone must be some flavour of crazy. Even knitters appear to support this, with most of the handspun “yarn prOn” displayed on knitblogs being the product of a Louet, Journeywheel, Ashford*, or whatever.

– If you really do want to learn how to spin on a drop spindle, most of the how-to articles available online appear geared to the casual crafter, or even teen/kid crafts. Not that this is inherently bad, (I think encouraging anyone, especially young people, is great), but if you’re trying to figure out why you should do x or the how x is the best method, there’s not much out there….

– … except for Spindlicity, which seems very promising. I’ve already read through pretty-much the entire archive of articles, and have picked up several good tips. I have hope that Spindlicity will become the Knitty for drop-spindlers.

– I think I’m spinning “backwards”: in that, while I’m rotating the spindle clockwise for my singles, it’s my right hand that holds the unspun fibres. I’ve tried it the other way lots, and just end up with really terribly drafted fibres, really slubby singles, and/or a dropped spindle. Why, if I can teach myself to knit English and Continental, and am right-handed naturally, can I not spin the way everyone does in the pictures?

– There has got to be a better way of holding lots of fibre than the bolster on my couch. That way has me constantly pausing to turn around an pick up the next puff, and contains the constant threat of one of The Horribles coughing up a brightly-coloured merino hairball. What is this elusive “wrist distaff”, and how do I make one?

– I like the BFL better than the merino. Is merino harder to spin for everyone, or do I just suck?

Drafting from the fold is so far the most successful drafting method for me. I can get a nice, relatively-even, thinner single with this method (& the BFL).

– Plying is hard. The two-jars method just ended up with me cursing a lot and possibly ruining my already badly-spun first two spindle’s worth of singles. I think I’m going to try to find a way to make a cheap DIY “lazy kate”, and transfer spindlefuls onto little bobbins rather than winding my singles into balls.

Despite all my bitching, I’m really loving this spinning thing. I’ m finding it even more relaxing than knitting in some ways, and am going to stick with it. I have this crazy dream that someday I can scoff at all those wheel spinners as I display my beautiful, even, spindle-spun yarns…

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*I can talk the talk, but I can’t afford to walk the walk!

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