Craft · crochet · Knitting · My other ramblings

Things I Learned From My First Attempt At Spinning

Fortunately for everyone, this post is about spinning yarn and not break dancing, though I’m sure my attempts at that would be fascinating too (and possible a lot funnier!) MrCraft made me a lovely drop spindle, as promised, and after watching a handful of YouTube videos I decided it was time to take the plunge and give it a whirl (sorry, awful pun).

It was a very steep learning curve and I’m not sure that what I produced will be much use for making anything. However, the process was really interesting and quite good fun.

The first thing I learned was preparation is key. I know, that is really obvious, but I hadn’t realised just how much I needed on do to my beautifully braided roving before it could be spun. It was quite broad and needed breaking into narrower strips. Of course, being new to this I didn’t really know how narrow the strips needed to be so there was a lot of guesswork involved. Also, once I began to predraft it, the spinning process became much easier.

This leads me on to drafting being harder than it looks. Pull too gently and nothing happens, too hard and it snaps (not really an issue but a little bit frustrating!) I found that more of a gentle stretching/stroking combined motion worked well for the roving I was using. It’s quite tricky to make the yarn an even thickness, though I’m sure it improves with practice. (It appears that a combination of how thin you draft it and how much you spin it control this and I haven’t quite got the hang of it.)

The amount of spin you put on it seems to be quite hard to control too. Spin too much and you get a coil, spin too little and it looks fluffy. (Handy to know if you want either of those effects I guess?) The spinning part is a lot of fun though and it’s very easy to get carried away.

I also discovered that you need to research it well before you start. I was merrily spinning yarn (unevenly) to the approximate thickness I wanted. It was then that I read about plying and learned that my yarn only needed to be half of that thickness so it could be plied. Whoops! I’m going to prepare the rest of my.roving to half of the thickness I’ve been using so that my next batch is better.

The weight of the spindle matters. My fibre kept snapping when spinning and although it can be fixed, it got me thinking about why it was happening. Feeling a bit frustrated with my efforts so far I decided to borrow a book from the library, which contained a handy table of weights needed for the whorl (round bit of the spindle) to make different yarn weights. I’m going to show it to MrCraft as the spindle he made is fab but I suspect it is a bit too heavy for the yarn I’m trying to spin. Hopefully I’ll soon have a lighter spindle so I can carry on!

I also discovered another downside to spinning-my clothes looked like I’d been marauder by a large, fluffy, white creature afterwards! (Sellotape wrapped around my hand soon sorted that.)

Here’s my first go at spinning, varied thickness yarn is very trendy right now, isn’t it?

Here’s a closer look, for the brave amongst you.

The colours are very pretty, so hopefully when I have another go I will make a yarn worthy of using!

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30 thoughts on “Things I Learned From My First Attempt At Spinning

  1. I think you, and the yarn you’ve made, are absolutely BRILLIANT.

    To teach yourself anything at all is something I admire in anyone. But to teach yourself spinning, from You Tube Videos is outstanding and shows your dedication to learning something new, just for yourself, and to learn it in a way that is ‘yours’.

    I’m filled with such admiration of you right now. You really are brilliant.

    GREAT post too. A thoroughly good read from start to end.
    Sending squidges from my corner to yours ~ Cobs. x

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  2. With more practice, the thickness of your singles will even out and (probably) get thinner. Save your first yarn – even if you just end up with a single ply – they say later on you’ll wish you could make yarn/singles like that and you may be unable to get your fingers to spin it that thick. (The nebulous “they” are right; I wish I could make yarn like my very first one – it’s essentially unintentional art yarn.)

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    1. Thank you! It’s so much fun to try. Do you mind me asking, how do you stop the singles coming untwisted when using them, either for plying or for knitting? I tried plying and mine came untwisted. I spun it the opposite direction to ply but the twists became loose and where I joined the fibre together it came apart again. Thank you. 😊

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      1. Hm. Well, firstly your supposed to let the singles rest on the spindle, though a lot of spinners disagree or are impatient and ply without letting them rest overnight. The other thing is, I guess, pinching the end of the single to keep it from unspinning (which I’m sure you’ve tried). If you chain ply the singles, pinching will work and they’ll untwist and balance out. If you’ve wound the single off into a center pull ball, the same thing will happen – just secure the yarn end to the spindle or wind on enough yarn to keep it stable. Once you ply all the singles, (or if you decide on a single ply), wind it off on a niddy noddy (easy to make one using PVC or dowels & copper plumbing connectors) to make a skein and finish it by washing it and whacking it – that will set the ply and/or the final twist in the yarn. I hope some of this makes sense; it’s hard to give advice without seeing what you’re doing. HTH!

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      2. Thank you! I guess I need to stop being impatient then, that will probably help. There’s a lot more steps to this than I thought! I will persevere, a lighter spindle has let me produce a much more even yarn already which is a good start. Thanks so much for the advice, hopefully I will be able update in a week or so with better results. 😊

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