Yarn Along- June 29

by Cynthia

This week I have almost completely abandoned my knitting because I finally picked up my drop spindle on Saturday and decided once and for all to learn how to spin yarn with it. It is something I have been wanting to learn for quite some time now but for whatever reason I have never gotten around to it. I have also owned Spinning in the Old Way for a few months but have only flipped through it. Now I am actually sitting down and reading it and it has been very helpful. The book is simple yet thorough. I especially appreciate the sections on finishing your yarns and plying. My world of knitting has just been blown wide open!

I am really enjoying practicing on my drop spindle. Every spare moment I am picking it up to practice some more. I have already seen some improvement in my yarn but I keep remaining frustrated because I am still achieving a thick/thin yarn. Oh, and joins are giving me some grief. They keep being too thick as well. All in all though I am having a blast and wish I had picked this up sooner!

Do any of you spin with a drop spindle? Care to offer me some tips and advice?

Also, be sure to check out all the other Yarn Along posts. And thanks to Ginny for hosting it!

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

angelina June 29, 2011 at 8:57 pm

this makes me smile so. i love, and would love, and am in admiration. x

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Cynthia June 30, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Thanks for the sweet comment Angelina. :)

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Maike June 29, 2011 at 11:06 pm

I’ve never spun with a drop spindle nor any other way. But it’s very high on my “Desperately want to try”-list =) I’m intrigued by the book! And I love you afghan (or is it a pillow?), great colours.

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Cynthia June 30, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Thanks for the nice comment Maike. The afghan has been in my family for quite a long time now. My grandmother made it about 30+ years ago! It has really hung in there and is well used and loved.

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Allison June 30, 2011 at 8:02 am

Oh my goodness!

I’ve been handspinning for over a year now, so this post is very exciting to me. Are you aware of joyofhandspinning.com? There are also many, many forums on ravelry.com regarding handspinning that you may be interested in.

Don’t worry about the thick/thin bit for now – it sounds like you may be having some issues drafting your fiber, which is causing the problem. This goes away with practice, and eventually you won’t be able to make a slubby yarn if you wanted to. Same with joins – usually it’s just because you’re not drafting it out just right before you twist the ends together. Out of curiosity, what fiber are you using? Looks like .. merino?

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Cynthia June 30, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Hi Allison- you are right, it is merino that I am using. I am so new to spinning, perhaps this was not the best fiber for me to start with? Thank you for the website suggestion. I will be sure to check it out as well as the Raverly forums. I appreciate your advice and encouragement. This has been a lot of fun so far! I’ll try to periodically posts updates on how my progress goes. Thanks again! :)

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Melly Sue June 30, 2011 at 9:48 am

I’ve been spinning off and on for 8 or 9 years now, and just returned home from a weekend fiber retreat. (If you’re interested, you can check it out here: http://www.griffindyeworks.com/?q=retreat).

Anyway, the two things that have helped me obtain even and smooth thread are 1) making sure your fiber is well drafted so that you can pull the fibers apart easily with a minimum of effort and 2) practice. :) I have also found that it’s important to match the fiber with the proficiency level of the spinner. Early on, I had the hardest time spinning with merino because it was just too straight and fine. It was easier to spin with a slightly kinky wool.

However, there are still things you can do to be clever with your thick and thin yarn, like crafty doll hair.

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Cynthia June 30, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Hi Melly Sue- I love your suggestion for the doll hair!! I have been contemplating knitting my daughter a doll and this would be perfect! Thank you for getting the wheels of inspiration turning in my head.

I would love to ask you a few questions after reading your comment. Like, is it best to pre-daft the roving as I am unclear on that step. I’m finding mixed answers there. Also what fiber would you recommend for a new spinner.

Thanks for your helpful comment! :)

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Esther June 30, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Good for you for trying something new (in an old way).
I’ve been spinning for over 20 years now. My original attempts on a drop spindle were pretty dismal, but then I borrowed a friend’s spinning wheel and things took off from there.
The problem originally had with my drop spindle was bad fleece and a spindle that was too heavy. From the picture, your fleece looks ok, but your spindle looks a bit big and clunky. You’ll probably have a better time of it with a lighter weight spindle. There are some lucious spindles on the Paradise Fibers site (I clicked through from your blog), the current issue of Spin-off magazine has instructions for making your own, or search the web for instructions for a cd spindle.
Good luck and happy spinning!

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Cynthia June 30, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Hi Esther- thank you so much for your suggestions. I will have to look into a less clunky spindle. That makes a lot of sense to me! I thought I would give spinning a go on a drop spindle first before I considered investing in a spinning wheel. Perhaps I should look into borrowing one and seeing what I think like you did. Thanks again for the helpful comment! :)

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cpcable July 1, 2011 at 7:27 am

I LOVE your photo! I picked up a drop spindle over a year ago and I’m so intimidated that I haven’t touched it once. Is it really not that bad?

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Cynthia July 1, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Thanks for the nice comment. It is not too hard- I’m actually really enjoying it! So far the trickiest part for me has been the drafting and getting a feel of how that works. You should give it a go! :)

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