Friday, September 28, 2012

How far I've come

My first attempt at spinning was a disaster.

It all started when one of the ladies from my old knitting group schlepped her folding spinning wheel to the group. Mind you, we met on Thursday evenings in the cafe portion of a Barnes&Noble book store at the time. And if we weren't strange enough already to other patrons, playing with our sticks and yarn, we certainly became strange then. But she sat there, unfolded the wheel, grabbed some pretty blue roving (at the time I only knew it as wool) and happily spun away while she chatted with the others.
....While everyone else had lost interest in watching what she was doing, I was hooked. At this point I had become good enough at knitting that I didn't need to look at my fingers anymore while working a plain sock, so my eye were glued to her actions. I watched with rapt attention as her hands did this pulling thing, and her feet quickly treadled the peddles in front of her. The roving in her hand was sucked onto the bobbin and soon she had to grab more from her bag.
....Eventually I started asking her questions, like how did it work, what was she doing, how did she stop the yarn from untwisting when it was all done, what was the fiber she was working with? And then she said those 5 magic words "Do you want to try?"
....At first I just giggled and shook my head like most people do when you offer them something. You know what I mean, I'm sure. Someone asks you if you want something and you politely shake your head and tell them "no no, that's alright." when in fact you are so intrigued by the idea that you're practically buzzing with wanting to try. But Lise insisted, removed her bobbin of pretty roving, slapped on a new one and told me to get my butt over. She showed me what to do, then moved over and had me sit down. At this point our group had stopped working and watched me with amusement.
First try at a wheel
....I sat down, and with Lise's instruction began spinning. It was a disaster from the get go. First I didn't treadle enough, so when I'd draft out the fibers they would break. Rejoining them took forever and usually the wheel would suck in the yarn when it broke off so we had to go fishing for it. Then I treadled too fast and the yarn began kinking back on itself...badly. My feet and hand's just couldn't get a rhythm going. Lise said there was nothing wrong with stopping the wheel and drafting out a bit to get the twist out. And that is what I did. Now here is where it get's really bad.
....    Lise didn't mention that I could turn the wheel a little by hand to let the spun up yarn wind onto the bobbin; I quickly ran out of arm length but not twist. So in my head (and I'm not sure what neurons didn't fire together that day), the longer the distance between my hands and the wheel, the more over-twist I can let into my roving. So I asked my friend to hold a bit of the single to the side. Then I asked her to pass it on to my sister. Then I asked my sister to pass it on to the lady sitting next to her who had stopped knitting at this point to hold her sides as she laughed hysterically. Then I stood up. Then I held the yarn really high above my head. Then I stood on a chair. I can still draft out yarn and get over-kink out. I'm 5'5" if that helps you visualize it any better.
....At this point the yarn is going from my hand (held above my head again) to the lady sitting three chairs away, to the wheel. Not only is my knitting group laughing hysterically (I think my Mom stopped breathing for a moment), but the other patrons of B&N are also chuckling and laughing. Lise is laughing so hard she's crying and has taken several staggering steps away. And finally, just when I think we'll have to cut the yarn off, she turns the wheel slowly by hand and it winds the yarn slowly onto bobbin. I was able to climb down from the chair, and stopped messing around with the wheel.
First spindle handspun
....By the next group she had brought a spindle along with some roving, showed me how to use it, and it turned out to be a much better experience. Mostly because I could spin the spindle, and then hold it between my legs while I drafted out the fiber (known as park and draft).

So as I sit there, lovingly petting my new Schacht Ladybug spinning wheel every 5 minutes (yes, I'm one of those people) and contemplating what I should spin up next, I can't help but think of that first experience from 2009. I still have that first skein sitting in a bin around here; the thing looking more like a super thick dreadlock then a skein of handspun yarn.
It was a interesting shove into a whole new wooly world, and I'm glad I took the plunge.
Current wheel project

1 comment:

Dyeforsocks1965 said...

ROFLMAO!!! Aahhh, fond memories....