Monday, 29 October 2012

Spindles and Spinning

Have you ever tried spinning fibre on a wheel or on a spindle?  It is a very relaxing hobby that fills me with a sense of satisfaction that I have taken something from its raw state right through to a knitted or crocheted item of use.

A friend in the Middle East taught me how to spin on a spindle using a variety of wools as each can be very different.  Some have a very short staple and are more difficult to spin without breaking the thread, and others have a very long staple.  The staple is found by pulling apart some fleece and seeing how long the tiny hairs are.  Practising with a variety of fibres will soon reveal which suits you best.

This is my collection of spindles.  Left to right they are an 'Ashford Beginners Spindle which is the one I was taught how to spin on, next is a 'Golding' considered by many to be the cream of the spindle crop, the next two are Turkish spindles from the souks in Qatar and the last one is an antique Turkish spindle my husband bought me in Izmir, Turkey.

This is where they usually live, in my bedroom as decoration on my dresser.  I think it's past time they were bought out and put to use again.

During my first few lessons on spinning I was told how relaxing spinning was and I can tell you that for those first initial weeks I was really doubting that this was the absolute truth.  Sorry Tracy :)

When you first start you are learning how to draft the fibre, spin the spindle and drop it but without breaking the spun yarn thread and smashing your spindle on the floor.  The 'park and draft' method helps and I would recommend any beginner to look up how to do this first.  You'll find videos on Youtube.  Basically you draft some of the fibre and spin that bit then 'park' the spindle between your knees while you draft the next bit.  Eventually you will be able to keep your spindle spinning while you are drafting and all of a sudden you've got it!  

The photo above is part of a display in one of the shopping centres in Doha, Qatar where they were showing traditional life in an Arabic country over the generations.

Spinning is a quiet and mesmerising hobby that relaxes the body and mind, a bit like an active meditation.  I am at a place where I can now admit that this is true.  It is also very portable as it will fit in your handbag, and a few minutes here and there throughout the day can amount to quite a lot of hand-spun yarn in a just few days.

I have kept my very first skein of yarn that I spun, plied and formed into a usable yarn, although I use the word 'usable' very loosely.  Any spinners will tell you that it is unbalance, over spun in places and under spun in others, but I like it as a reminder of how far I've come.  This is it on the spindle.

And this photo shows the completed skein after it was plied, washed and dried.  You can see it is has come out looking better than first though when viewing it on the spindle, however I won't ever knit it into anything, it is just 'souvenir' spinning now and I'm kind of attached to it.

Do you spin, either on a spindle or a wheel?

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic post! Loved seeing your spindle collection, thanks for sharing, Chez. :)


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