Trip to York with personal workshop in spinning

My friend who originally got me into knitting lives in York and I decided to pay her a much over due visit this weekend. Since moving back to the UK she not only knits and sews but has started spinning and dyeing her own yarns and processing fleeces.

Her house is a treasure trove of special Yarn blends and hand spun Yarn. There is of course non handspun Yarn too but the hand spun and dyed stuff was way too interesting to pay the commercial stuff any attention.

You may have seen my socks I made from one of her special non nylon sock blends.

My absolute favourites of hers were this neutral and this grey. But she also has some fun dyed braids and spun yarns.

Being the enabler she is, she taught me a 6 hour workshop from making my own batt on a drum carder, to spinning it up and playing it and finishing my yarn.

I never doubted it but I was amazed how good she’s gotten with deliberately practice and how much knowledge she now has. It was incredible.

This was not all however. On my last morning I also got a lesson in hand carding to make rolags! This is super fun and I liked the effect of blending two fleeces together a lot and seeing the fleece change into more recognisable fibre.

I now of course would love my own spinning wheel and drum carder. How does this happen!?

Do you spin?

Adventures and learnings from drop spindle spinning

At Edinburgh yarn festival I was lucky enough to attend a class on using a drop spindle. I had never tried spinning before but liked the idea of making my own yarn and the portability of a drop spindle. We live in a small flat with not a lot of storage space, so a wheel is not likely to fit anytime soon and also a drop spindle is a lot cheaper to start with.

During the lesson we used a bottom whorl spindle and had a variety of shetland fibre to use creating a marled look.

My spinning was all over the place but I seem to have been bitten by the bug and bought myself a started kit at the festival. The starter kit included a basic top loading whorl spindle ( I didn’t know I wasn’t buying what I used in the lesson) and some fibre. I think it was a merino fibre. I also got myself some lovely fibre from John Arbon to practice with.

My Spinning tools

As I mentioned I bought a drop spindle from Edinburgh Yarn festival and it was from the threshing barn store. My spindle didn’t have a notch in the whorl making it quite hard to not have the yarn slip and I would definitely recommend to check that you do have a notch when buying your drop spindle. We cut a small notch into mine now and it is so much better to use. I have just been spinning and spinning over the easter holiday. 🙂

As it is only the second ever spindle I have used I cannot say much more about it. Sometimes it spins really well but other times it is a bit wobbly. I think it is quite heavy ~60g or so, causing some of my spinning attempts to fall apart as I am getting quite thin singles now.

I have my eye on a turkish spindle from Enid Ashcroft to try out. In terms of tools that is it so far.

My Spinning

My spinning is basically what I learned in the class. I will pull out bits from the fibre and make rolls using my hands. This is meant to created woolen yarn instead of worsted. A lighter and warmer yarn apparently. I think spring my spindle and do a park and draft method. I have attempted spinning with the spindle just going for it freely but I am not a good enough drafter yet.

I have also come across this challenge of spinning 15 minutes a day.

The blog is super interesting and I like the idea of learning something in small increments as that fits my current lifestyle and leaves room for knitting and crochet.

The types of fibre I have tried to spin with so far are Shetland, Exmoor Blueface and I think Merino. So far the Exmoor Blueface is the easiest but also quite easy to mess up. I liked the longer staple of the shetland making it a bit more predictable in my own hands. I can really see how this spinning different types of yarn and breeds can be really addictive. Waiting I have some more shetland slightly overdid by my friend and some John Arbon Devonia Wool Top.

After spinning 2 singles, I wind each one into its one ball and then wind them together into a ball from which I then ply. I find this helps with tangles a bit makes for a more even ply. But I have read all sorts of ways you can do this and gadgets to use to keep your singles under control, from actual gadgets to flower pots. So far I have kept things simple.

My hand spun yarn has been incorporated into a crochet blanket which I talk about a bit here. I currently have about 50grams of yarn drying and would like to knit that into something. We shall see what it becomes.

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All hand spun bits crochet together