Learning to Spin

Misty Mountain Farm BFL in color Pumpkin spice.

Amy and Jillian – and many of my friends around the knitting world – are avid spinners, and it seemed inevitable that I would eventually want to give it a try.

I knew that Rhinebeck is a big spinning event, so I decided that my objective for the trip would be to learn to spindle spin.

I did some research into what to look for in a spindle and some fiber, and set myself the most excellent task of shopping.

The lovely TsockTsarina got me hooked up with a plain and simple GnomeSpun spindle, and I bought myself some gorgoeous Blue Faced Leicester roving – since the experts told me that it was easy for beginners.  I chose a color inspired by the wonderful fall foliage I was seeing around.

On the Saturday evening, I sat down with some spinning friends from the shop Shall We Knit. The fabulous Lise opened up her bag of tricks, and pulled out some green Shetland (also very beginner-friendly), and got me started.

In action, with excellent coaching from Lise.

And after a few false starts, some fumbling around, and much laughter, I was starting to get the hang of it. I was making something that looked like something you could knit with.

After an hour watching me play with the top whorl spindle, Lise quietly offered up a second spindle to try: a Jenkins Turkish Delight. I had no idea: this is the spinning equivalent of offering a learner driver the keys to a Cadillac. I was immediately hooked. Being a clever sort, Lise had bought it for me, expecting I might enjoy using it.

We worked together for a couple of evenings, me spindling, Lise providing coaching and supportive laughter, and by the end of the weekend, I had made my first yarn!

I had about 6 yards of a maybe worsted weight, slightly slubby, hand-dyed green Shetland.

I made yarn! I am a spinner!

Naturally, I wanted to knit something with it. Something I could keep and show off… spinner extraordinaire Denny suggested a leaf. It’s a perfect leafy color, and I knitted it at a leafy time of year… and so…

Very proud!

my first project with my first handspun! A leaf, with a pin on the back to make it a brooch. I will be wearing it with pride on my coat this winter.

I’m saving the BFL roving until I am feeling a bit more confident. I’m going to visit my friends at Shall We Knit this weekend, and my spindles are definitely going with me.

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15 thoughts on “Learning to Spin

  1. CambriaW

    I too, have a Jenkins Turkish spindle and my spinning ability jumped considerably when I started using it, as did my time spent actually spinning 🙂 I’m still much more of a knitter than a spinner, but I hope to one day spin enough to actually knit something larger than a swatch 🙂

  2. Kat Oliver

    Congrats! Nothing like that feeling of accomplishment! And as a creative sort-I’m sure your head is “spinning” about all the possibilities this little skill has opened up. You can now design your own yarn…mix colors, fiber…endless ideas.

  3. Seanna Lea

    Is there a technique you are using to make spinning more of a part of your daily life? I have a spindle and I just find that it is hard to actually get started as both my dog and my cat have a tendency to want to be in the way when we are doing anything interesting and new.

  4. Renee Cook

    I’m a newbie spindler myself and I love it!! Oh, the possibilities!! So far I’ve spun 2 skeins. The first was very much a thick and thin 2 ply yarn and the second is a 2 ply that is probably more a sport weight than anything. They aren’t especially pretty, but I love them!

  5. Linda

    Congratulations on your accomplishment. The leaf is fantastic and I’m sure it will look lovely on your winter coat.

    I haven’t yet taken the plunge into spinning, although I must say that you are tempting me. Please do post a photo of whatever you decide to do with the Pumpkin Spice BFL; it is luscious.

    Happy spinning/knitting!

  6. Lise

    On October 23, I became hooked. I took a spindle spinning class at Biscotte & Cie and I AM HOOKED. The top whorl spindle came with the class but I have had a turkish spindle at home for about 1 1/2 year. I will try it when I get some BFL roving. Spin On

  7. Michelle

    I couldn’t have recommended a better spindle myself than one of the Jenkins’ functional works of art; I have a stable of them (and a sheepfold full of little Shetland sheep!).

  8. brandi

    welcome to spinning. I did as you are doing and tried to “save” my good fiber until I could spin better. I decided this was lunacy. It may not come out perfect but it will be perfect for something. Just my 2 cents.

  9. Claire

    I was already well on the road to learning to spin–now I MUST! I love the fibers, the process, the colors–I want to learn to dye too!

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