• The Drop Spindle experiment

    I’ve tried spinning, a few times.  It never went particularly well. My most successful experience was using a friend’s spinning wheel, which was fun, meditative, and fed my love of handmade wooden tools.  But 1) it was pretty big, 2) my husband noted that I already had a lot of yarn and really didn’t need to make more (and that was YEARS ago, when my stash was much smaller!), and 3) I wasn’t sure that I would have time to use it, so I passed.

    Over the years, I’ve tried several types of drop spindles, but the name seemed appropriate, as they kept dropping to the floor.  I never lasted very long. This year, I was motivated to try again, because of my success with weaving.  I started weaving when writing “Annetarsia Knits”, as I wanted to be a beginner again at something as a guide to what I needed to address in the book.  Boy, did that work, and the book was much better for the understanding that I gained.  I also found that I loved to weave, and have continued to learn and grow in that craft.  If I could learn to weave, certainly I could learn to spin.  Right?

    I visited the Carolina Homespun booth at Madrona  and told Morgaine Wilder (who sold me all of my first weaving supplies) that I wanted to try again.  We sorted through drop spindles – all hand made with various woods, all gorgeous and completely different.  I felt like I was a young wizard choosing a wand before attending Hogwarts.  After one spindle chose me, Morgaine gave me a bit of fiber and showed me the power of spin to create glue to turn the fiber into string.  Then, she sent me to the Homestead Hobbyist booth, where they guided me to really easy fiber to start with, a beautifully dyed Falkland fiber which has really long “staples”,  (fibers), so that you can “draft” (stretch) it easily without breaking.  After I had my supplies, I immediately went to the rotunda, where Sarah Anderson was demonstrating how to spin.  She gave me some white fiber to practice with until I felt confident enough to start the Falkland.  I sat with Sarah for quite awhile, visiting with other new spinners and practicing with the fiber and spindle.

    This is the first time I have felt a glimmer of hope that I can do this.  I think the reasons it worked this time was that I bought good equipment, worked immediately with Morgaine and Sarah, who are excellent teachers, and then I followed Morgaine’s advice and PRACTICED 20 MINUTES A DAY. Even when I was busy, I’d remind myself to pull out the spindle and make yarn every day.

    A week after Madrona, I was at Stitches West and found Morgaine at her (very busy) booth to show her that I had spun all of the fiber Sarah gave me.  She showed me how to wind it into little balls and ply them together into my very first skein of yarn!  Yes, it is small.  Yes, it is a bit uneven.  But I made it myself, and I won’t be stopping here.  Last night I began to spin my Falkland roving, and I plan to keep spinning 20 min/day.  It is meditative and calming, and Lord knows that I need that right now.

    Drop spindle with First skein of handspun yarn! This gorgeous roving is next up on the spindle…..