Fun With Fiber — Spinning

Greetings, gentles!

Today we are going to talk about our new favorite thing: spinning wool. 

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All you need to start spinning is a drop spindle, and some roving.

A drop spindle, stripped down to its basic parts, is a dowl and a round disk. You can find fancy ones, or (if you’re extra craftly) you can make one with stuff around your house.

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Roving is what we use to spin.  It can be used for other crafts as well, like needle felting.

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I learned to spin at Deck the Halls of Valhalla, and I must admit my other projects are suffering while I blow through my entire supply of roving.  I finished the bit of wool I was given at the event while I was still there, and spent the rest of the event wishing I had more!  Once you get the hang of it, it’s an oddly soothing activity.

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The spindle can be used with the disk at the top or the bottom.  I’ve tried it both ways, and I like the balance better with the disk at the top.  I definitely recommend trying it both ways.  

You can see in the photo above how this is supposed to work.  You pull strands from your roving, and use the spindle to twist the fibers into a strong, solid, string.  Wrap your spun thread by the disk (for balance purposes), and repeat.  For more detailed instructions you should look to YouTube.  That way you can see a person doing it, and get a feel for the motion.  If you go to a lot of events, you can probably find somebody spinning who’s willing to help you out.

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One of the things I learned at Deck the Halls of Valhalla is that it is necessary to double your yarn.  As you’re spinning you’ll notice that your string wants to twist into itself.  Well, thats why we double.  Take two strings (spun in the same direction) and simply place them near each other.  They WANT to be together.

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You can even divide your string onto two spools and fold it in half, as I’ve done above.

There is a word for this process (I know because somebody used it while telling me how much they hate doing it), but I can’t remember what it is right now.   This part doesn’t have to be a pain, though.  If you just let physics do all the work, it’s actually pretty entertaining.  

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These are my second and third tries at spinning.  I think they look pretty good, though you can see I still have a little trouble keeping a consistant thickness... and it could honestly be thinner all around.  

Of course, whatever I make out of it will be cozy as heck!

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When it’s all spun together, it’s ready to wash!  I used a little bit of baby soap in a large bowl of water, and I just let the yarn soak while I did something else for a while.

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Then I rinsed it out and (after untangling it) hung it up to dry in the bath.

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My next post will be about dying, but here’s a little sneeky peek.  I took the very first yarn I made at Deck the Halls of Valhalla and dyed it with beets.  I’ve been playing with natural dyes for a minute now, and I’m very excited about it!  Just look at that beautiful orange!

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—Sayyid Jibril al-Ghazal