Posts Tagged ‘spinning’

I’ve been rather busy

August 4, 2010



Dabbling in other crafts

And travelling!

And I promise to tell you all about it as soon as I’ve got a minute :)


New wheel

November 12, 2009

I almost forgot to tell you, but I bought a spinning wheel last week!


It’s great to finally have my very own wheel. I wasn’t sorry to see the back of the Guild’s Ashford, heavy clunky thing that it was. This one is sooo much easier to get in the car—it sits on the front seat, carefully restrained by a seatbelt. And I was beginning to find the limits of the Ashford’s capabilities, especially its ability to spin bulky yarn (practically nonexistent). This is a secondhand Sickinger (an Australian make) that came with five bobbins, a handy bobbin-carrier/upright lazy kate thing, and a jumbo flyer as well as the normal sized one. Yay! It’s all pretty and just about all the wooden parts have been nicely turned—something that makes the girls at Spinning Group think it must be an Esther, the top of the line model. Double yay! I took it to spinning last week and had fun showing it off, learning its quirks and talking shop. I think the Sickinger and I are going to be very happy together.

Spinning Camp!

October 26, 2009

I had a wonderful weekend at Spinning Camp. A weekend in a quiet green valley outside town, with all meals laid on, and nothing to do except spin, knit, chat and relax. The weather even played nice for most of the time too. Here is what I did.

Moved into the (quite large) shared room. I am a pro, this mess only took five minutes to make.

my mess

Enjoyed the views of bush, mountains and sky


Spent a lot of time spinning in a light, airy room with many other spinners and knitting in the sun outside

a bobbin of spinners

Spun, and plied, the whole of the red treetops fibre I brought. Isn’t it lovely and chunky? These reds make me think of lipsticks.

red slubby pretty

Stocked up on things to spin at the camp shop (alpaca, polwarth + silk, wool + bamboo, and merino)

brand new fibre stash

Put some things on the show and tell table (and played clotheshorse in the show and tell fashion parade), and marvelled at the skill and ingenuity showed in some of the pieces.

show and tell

Learnt to Navajo-ply, and managed to do a whole bobbin without mistakes (plus some of the red above)

first navajo plying

Wandered off into the bush to enjoy the view

afternoon sun and gumtrees

Spied on the kangaroos


And swooned over the softness of my semi-solid indigo merino. It was like spinning butter. So lustrous and pretty.

indigo lovely

All up, a very satisfying weekend, and a valuable resource for a novice spinner. I hope I can go back next year, this time with my own wheel.


October 21, 2009

I’m going to what I like to think of as ‘Spinning Camp’ this weekend. Although I’m a beginner I thought it would be nice to have something pretty to play with, as a change from the white Bond-Corriedale I’ve been using since I learnt to spin. So I ordered some pretties from Treetops in Western Australia, and they arrived today, in plenty of time for the weekend. Thank goodness for Express Post.

I have some Royal Indigo semi-solid (which is darker than this picture suggests)

blue pretties

and some of a hand-dyed mix in Heartache, beautiful variations on a strong red. It isn’t quite as saturated as it looks in this pic, but my camera isn’t so good with strong colours.

red pretties

Aren’t they looovely? They’re both merino, so should be well within my spinning abilities. But it’s nice to play with something a bit more interesting than plain white.

Spinning adventures

September 24, 2009

I haven’t been spinning much lately, but this isn’t for lack of enthusiasm—merely lack of fibre and lack of time in which to spin. But I did manage to finish off that glorious purple merino I got at the craft fair, and the last of the bond corriedale we used in class.


I definitely think there’s some improvement there. Sure, it’s still uneven, and sure, it’s a little too twisty, but it’s a lot less uneven, and not quite as twisty. And the colour of that purple is so darling I’m pretty much willing to forgive myself anything. I was a bit worried that the varied colours didn’t match up when I plied it, but now I think I like it.

I’ve recently finished a deadline-project, which means I now have a bit more time to spin and knit other things (FO news soon, I’m really proud of this one if a little glad to see the back of it, but you have to wait until the recipient has it!). So last night I celebrated by going to my first spinning group, with some of the other Spinners & Weavers Guild members. It was nice to spin in company again, and even nicer to meet in someone’s home instead of the chilly Guild rooms. I practised my evenness on some more bond corriedale, and got the chance to teach a visitor from the US how to drink tea through a Tim Tam. That’s me, all class. I’m really looking forward to the weekend spinning retreat in October, or ‘spinning camp’ as I like to think of it. I love the fact that what’s seen as such a tame pastime can be done by very funny and colourful people!

Happy spinning face

September 4, 2009

This is a photo our spinning teacher took of me on Monday night just after I’d skeined up my first ever attempts at spinning. I just wanted to share my big grin, how excited I was, despite the over-twist, despite the unevenness. Yarn!



September 1, 2009

We had our fourth and last spinning class last night, and while that was a little sad, what we did was exciting. These classes are the most fun I’ve had in learning something for ages!

After plying our singles into beautiful two-ply yarn last week, it was ready to be skeined and washed this week. I’d never seen skeining done before, and even after our teacher handed out niddy-noddies (ha! I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of that name!) I had no more of a clue. But for something so simple they’re quite clever really, and we all skeined up quickly. Then we learnt to wash, and got to try the amusingly useful ‘helicopter’ technique to get rid of excess water. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of that…


And now I have two and a half beautifully soft skeins with so much texture and character, drying slowly in my living room. As we were skeining up I was a bit worried about how much texture they had. I do like thick-and-thin yarn, but not too thick-and-thin, and everyone else’s was a lot more even than mine. However the process of washing and spinning seemed to even out some of those overly chunky bits, and sort out most of the bits that had a little too much twist. And now it’s so lovely I can’t wait to see what it looks like knitted up!

i think i'm in love

Though I am toying with the idea of dyeing it.

I was able to get in some spinning as well. I had a go at spinning that nutmeg-coloured Bond Cross a little thicker, but managed to reach the capabilities of an Ashford without a jumbo flyer. It’s still difficult to get it even, and I’m worried some of it has too much twist, but I think it will sort itself out and I don’t mind knitting with a single ply.

nutmeg chunky

I also started spinning the varied-purple wool top I got at the Craft Fair, this time trying to get something that was both thin and even. Mixed results so far, but I think the colour will carry this yarn regardless—I love all the different shades.

purple haze

Hurrah for a new hobby! I’ve got the wheel for another two months which should see me through spinning camp in October (yay! spinning camp! *hyperventilates*) and I’ve joined the Guild. I’m really looking forward to doing more of this, meeting other spinners, learning new techniques, and honing my skills. And stashing wool tops of course—they’re even snugglier than yarn!

Spinning part two: plying

August 27, 2009

This week at Spinning class we plied our strands of handspun into a two-ply yarn. And again, what fun! Having only been spinning for a week, I was a bit daunted by the prospect of plying so soon, but we all picked it up quite quickly.


My spinning is still a little haphazard, and I tend to get rather uneven strands. Plied together these gave a yarn with so much character I immediately fell in love! Part of me still wants to be able to spin even, fine yarn because I can recognize that that’s a lot harder, and therefore a greater achievement—but I’m pretty chuffed that I’m already able to make something that I really like. I guess I can work on the evenness over time.


And it sounds like there will be time—our teachers were telling us about upcoming Guild workshops, secondhand wheels for sale, and a weekend spinning retreat that sounds just divine. I really have to see whether I can do that. In the meantime, there’s always more fibre to spin.



August 26, 2009

There’s a spare spinning-wheel bobbin on my desk that Emma just lent me because all mine are full…and now all I want to do is go home and spin! Must wait…

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

August 22, 2009

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.


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!’


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.