Hand Spinning – How I started
We have been using wool yarn to make jumpers and other items of clothing for hundreds of years. Nearly all spinning is done my machine these days and indeed, most yarn is not wool, but a synthetic fibre such as acrylic, nylon or polyester.
I got into hand spinning as I loved to crochet and knit, but developed a love of expensive wool yarn. I decided that a good way of having a supply of quality yarn was to make it myself. First of all I attended a local workshop to learn how to use a drop spindle; it was more like twisting wool than spinning it, so I turned to the internet to learn how to spin correctly with a drop spindle.
Buying My First Fleece
I had also got carried away and ordered a raw Jacob sheep fleece from a small wool flock in Wales. I had no clue how to process the fleece, but was determined to make a blanket from it. When the fleece arrived I lay it out on a spare bedroom floor in the house, it was pleasantly smelly and very sticky! So, I set about gently washing the fleece, being careful not to felt it. I realised that I needed some hand carders to prepare the fleece for spinning, so they were duly purchased.
I decided that I wanted to make giant granny squares and join them together to make a huge chunky blanket. Well it was quite a task on my tiny drop spindle, but I was not going to give up. I did decide though that there must be a much better way of spinning yarn – so I found a fantastic spinning teacher, Pam Austin and booked a couple of lessons on a spinning wheel. I actually booked Pam’s spinning starter pack, which is fab as you can borrow a wheel to practice on. That was it I was hooked. I finished the blanket using the spindle, to keep the character of the yarn and I asked Pam to help me with my spindle spinning too.
Soon after I got my trustee spinning wheel, an Ashford Kiwi, not a traditional looking wheel, but chosen as it has a compact design and fits nicely onto our narrowboat East Hill. The other reason for choosing the Kiwi, is the ability to fit three different flyers, so that you can spin a range of yarns from fine to chunky.
I spin wool and Mohair now to make jumpers and accessories for myself and family, but also to sell from East Hill and in my online shop. I can often be seen sitting on the canal towpath with my spinning wheel (when it is warm enough) making yarn for my latest project.