I Wanted to Learn to Spin My Own Yarn
A couple of years ago, I attended a drop spindle spinning workshop at my local yarn store. In eager anticipation of learning to spin I had purchased a Jacob sheep fleece, without a clue what I was doing, so I was lucky that it turned out to be a lovely fleece! Anyway, the spinning workshop was a disappointment; I basically learned to twist wool a bit. After watching a few tutorials on the internet I set about washing, carding and spinning the fleece on a tiny little drop spindle. I decided that I was going to crochet giant granny squares, using a 16mm hook and make a wool throw.
Well, spinning a full fleece on a tiny spindle was quite a task and I decided that there must be an easier way. So I started looking for a teacher who could teach me how to use a spinning wheel.
I found Pam’s web site and thought her Beginners Spinning Starter Pack sounded great, especially as you can borrow a wheel to take home and practise on. This way you can take time to see if you really love spinning before committing to having your own wheel. So I went for my first lesson. Pam is a great teacher, very patient and knows just how to teach each person. We all learn in different ways and at different paces, so this is important. I took one of Pam’s spinning wheels home with me, along with some easy to spin wool roving. Pam set me homework; to spin two bobbins worth before my next lesson! The following couple of days consisted of me keep snapping my yarn, cursing and taking a break then going back for another go. I was not a natural! Then it clicked, I loved it. I returned for my second lesson with two bobbins of spun singles which Pam taught me to ply to make my first little skein of yarn. What a feeling of achievement.
Choosing the Right Spinning Wheel for Me
I borrowed a couple of different wheels from Pam, so that I could get a feel for the right type of wheel for me. I settled on a Kiwi 2, a compact little work horse of a wheel that can cope with anything that I want to spin, from very fine to super chunky art yarn. I needed a compact wheel that would fit on our narrowboat so the Kiwi with its upright design is perfect.
My Spinning Wheel
Pam also helped me with my drop spindle spinning, and provided me with a more substantial drop spindle, that made spinning on a spindle a lot easier. The new spindle enabled me to complete my throw, which in the end used up two and a half fleeces!
Giant Granny Square Throw – Spun on a Drop Spindle
Falling Further Down The Woolly Rabbit Hole
Dyeing and Mohair
Shortly after my first spinning lessons, Pam was running a dyeing workshop for a couple of ladies and one of them couldn’t make it, so Pam asked me if I would like to take her place. Well, that day I fell in love with Mohair and dyeing! The lady that I shared with is called Jackie and she has a herd of Angora goats. Jackie brought some beautiful, soft Mohair locks for us to dye. Wow, they take colour well and are still my favourite fibre to dye (and spin).
Handspun, Handdyed Mohair Skeins
Woolly Days at Knuston Hall
I soon started to attend Pam’s monthly “Woolly” days at Knuston Hall. Now, the group of ladies that attend Knuston each month are fantastic; knowledgeable, friendly, kind, funny, in fact just great company. I was made to feel very welcome and have learned even more woolly skills. I leaned how to “wet felt” wool and use it to make many things; buttons, bowls, book covers and felted soap.
My Woolly Adventure Has Changed My Life!
I am now using all my new found “Woolly” skills to run my own little business, making and selling handspun Mohair yarn and scarves, felted fleece rugs and felted natural soap. If you are interested in seeing what I make, please visit my web site: www.east-hill-mill.co.uk
You never know where meeting Pam and starting your own little adventure will take you, but you can be sure you will have lots of fun, learn new skills and it can even be very therapeutic. I can recommend it highly ?
by: Viv Carter