Thursday, January 17, 2013

Spin Me Some Yarn!

From this....

To THIS!!   

Spinning yarn is something I've been interested in doing for years.  I bought my first spindle at a fiber festival in Greencastle, IN.  At the time, I knew nothing of spinning yarn except for what a few vendors told me.  My husband, the enabler that he is, told me that it would be fun.  At that festival, I purchased an entire, raw alpaca fleece, thinking that one day, I would clean it up and spin it myself.  

I went to my local yarn store at the time, Yarns Unlimited, and purchased some roving for my spindle.  Low and behold, they even had an upcoming learn to spin class!  I registered and dreamed of spinning my own yarn to knit with.

The spinning class was great.  My teacher was quite the expert on spinning, and was patient and kind.  I learned a lot about drafting the fiber and getting my spindle to go in the right direction.  But even after taking a class, I had a difficult time with the spindle.  It was too slow for my taste, and it was just, well, wonky to use.  (Later, I found out that the spindle I have is much too big and heavy for a beginner.)  I quickly put aside my spinning ambitions and went back to knitting.  Saying to myself that one day, when my husband and I were settled, I would buy a spinning wheel and learn to spin my own yarn.

November of last year, I started thinking more about learning to spin.  Filling my days with knitting was great, but I needed something more.  I started reading about spinning yarn online, and began dreaming again of making my own yarn.  A friend of mine said to me "Life is too short to make your own yarn."  Perhaps that is true for some.  For me, I enjoy learning new things and to take a process of knitting, and trace it back to the beginning elements, well, it was just too tempting not to do it.  

Using my birthday and advance Christmas gift money, I purchased my very first spinning wheel from eBay.  I know a lot of sites tell you to test drive wheels before purchasing, but I didn't.  I did read a lot about wheels and talked to spinners on Ravelry to find out what wheel would work well for a newbie.  I chose the Kiwi 2 because it was small, portable, and, well, extremely affordable compared to most spinning wheels.  Ebay had an excellent deal where I could get the wheel, 1 lb of roving, a niddy noddy, and a high speed whorl in one package.  

When selecting my wheel, I chose an unfinished Kiwi 2 because the price was significantly lower than a finished one.  Not having any experience in wood working, I didn't think about why the wood would be finished or unfinished, and that by purchasing an unfinished wheel, I would actually have to finish it myself!  When my Kiwi came in the mail, I was so excited to put it together and get to spinning.  That excitement came to a halt when I realized I HAD TO FINISH THE WOOD FIRST!  YIKES!!!!! (In order not to write a book here, I'll save how I finished the Kiwi for another post.)  Needless to say, my husband I were able to finish the Kiwi, put it together, and I started spinning.  Watching YouTube videos helped me get started with this new craft, as I had no clue what I was suppose to do at first.  It didn't take long to figure it out.  Having had drafting lessons previously was very helpful in knowing how to prepare the roving for spinning.  I also attended a local spinning meetup where some wonderful women gave me some feedback and advice and showed me how to adjust my wheel.  (I plan on creating a video to show how to use the Kiwi since there are only a couple I've found so far on YouTube.)

My finished Kiwi 2, and Oreo
I've now completed 3 skeins of hand spun yarn!  Each one a new experience, each one a delight.  Using the 2nd hand spun I made, I knitted the cowl you see in my WELCOME post. Knitting with yarn that I spun myself is such a wonderful feeling!  To know I made that from beginning to end really gives me a sense of accomplishment.  

I've started my 4th hand spun now using roving that I dyed using Wilton's food coloring gel.

If you have never spun before, and have dreamed of doing so, I highly recommend it!  It's so soothing, hypnotic, and best of all, you can make your own personalized yarn for any project! Granted, the yarn you make the first time around will probably end up being a hat or something easy, but eventually, with time and practice, you can make all kinds of yarns suitable for your knitting projects.  :)


  1. I cannot wait to see what this looks like! I love the cowl that is in your picture.

  2. Did you spin yesterday? Post more pictures!!!!

    1. I was able to get a little spinning done yesterday. Will get pictures posted soon. :)