Let Me Spin You A Tale, or, Our Heroine Learns To Make Yarn

I’m taking spinning classes at the moment, through the local Guild of Spinners and Weavers. It’s four classes in total, each of around three hours on a Monday night, and my goodness it’s fun!

I’ve been thinking about learning to spin for a while now. I particularly love knitting with handspun (and hand-dyed) yarns with lots of character, and I’d love to be able to make the sort of stuff that Rainbow Wools, for example, turns out. I don’t like fluff or glitter or feathery bits in my yarn, but show me something chunky and slubby and I just melt.

Anyway.

So when the guild finally got around to running beginner spinning classes again, I signed up straight away. In fact, if the speed at which an email is sent was proportional to the eagerness of the sender, they would have received my booking before they even advertised the class. So eager was I! Serendipitously, my friend Emma from work was just buying her first spinning wheel when I told her about it, so she signed up too.

Our first class was Monday before last, and after getting thoroughly lost in the dark and quiet suburb the guild has its headquarters in, we arrived with shining eyes and twitchy fingers. It’s a nice small class—only six of us in total—and the teachers are so helpful and patient. (Since I’ve moved into the field of science and had to learn science communication, I have a great respect for anyone that can find simple analogies for complex concepts.)

We spent the first evening learning about the different parts of our wheel, about every stage wool goes through from sheep to sweater, and did some basic treadling—no fibre yet. We were hankering to start spinning, but looking back I think they were smart to make us learn even treadling first.

This week we progressed to using wool! As our teacher said, ‘The aim of tonight is simply to make some yarn. It just has to get from your hands to the bobbin.’ We all picked up the basics pretty quickly, and although the results were variable, she kept up a constant stream of encouragement: ‘What are you complaining about? That’s yarn, it’s on the bobbin. Therefore you’ve succeeded in tonight’s aim!’

yarn!

I made that!

Two things surprised me about my first spinning experience. One, that it was much harder than I’d thought. Coordinating two hands and a foot and the eyes and the brain, and then remembering to breathe, was plenty of work. Good thing we were expert treadlers by that stage. The other, that it was so much fun! Despite the frustration when the yarn broke (again) and got tangled around the hooks and the bobbin (again) or twisted so much it was more like a spring than something you’d want to knit with, Emma and I had grins on our faces almost the whole night. And of course the next day at work we bored everyone with spinning shop-talk.

They gave us all huge piles of wool to spin as ‘homework’—as if something so enjoyable could be considered work! I wish I didn’t have so much knitting to do so I could spin more. I can’t wait for next week’s class.

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One Response to “Let Me Spin You A Tale, or, Our Heroine Learns To Make Yarn”

  1. Harriet the hedgehog « An odd assortment Says:

    […] been sitting in my stash for ages (Cleckheaton, I think) and the white is the Bond-Corriedale I learnt to spin with. It makes for a beautifully soft and snuggly hedgehog body, perfect to cuddle up to. Actually […]

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