Thursday, November 13, 2008

I am not a prodigy

Spinning looks so easy when other people do it. I watched a woman at the Door County Shepherd's Market spinning on a drop spindle while she walked around and chatted. Her spindle was like a little dog on a leash and the yarn magically wound itself from a loop of roving over her shoulder into neat singles without any apparent effort.

I was shown how to use a drop spindle last Thursday and all I could do was drop it, make a mess and wish I had about four more arms. My singles were puffy and under-spun, alternating with wiry, kinked and desperately over-spun. I couldn't keep it spinning, so it kept reversing direction and untwisting my yarn. As my teacher said, "they call it a drop spindle for a reason".

Once I had the general gist of drafting, my patient teacher moved me to my wheel. It turns out I have two gimpy bobbins that won't spin freely on the flyer. However, I did have a good bobbin with me, so I was able to get going on that one. My singles weren't much better, but I stopped wishing for extra arms. I wasn't too worried about treadling and drafting at the same time. My drafting was still dismal and I had a tendency to get excited and start spinning nearly invisible little threads that would snap while I held my breath and begged them to hold long enough to wind onto the bobbin. I did become pretty comfortable with adding new wool to the breaks, so it worked out for me.

Despite all of my frustration, I finally had a light bulb moment where I could feel I was doing something right. I found I can't hold the wool in my left hand because my hands get confused and keep trying to do the other ones' job. Once I moved the wool to my right, everything started to come together. I still can't control my drafting to save my life, but I keep telling myself people pay a lot for thick and thin yarns and Malabrigo is a popular single.

Say what you will, but I'm still stupidly proud of my first attempts.

I spun some more last night and I seem to create bulky weight singles with the occasional stretch of fingering/sport weight. My singles break if I try to make them thinner and it's just going to take a lot of practice to get strength and consistency at a finer gauge. I'm not even thinking about plying yet because these singles would ply up into a rope you could tie a boat with. I'll knit my singles into a little wool blanket for Lucy. She won't mind if it's a little nubby looking and it will be a nice reward since she's so good about cuddling but staying off my knitting (usually).

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