Learning to Spin

I have a list. It may not exist on a piece of paper, but it is wedged firmly in my head. Sometimes I add to it. Other times I remove items. Mainly I add to it. It is the list of all the things I want to do. At some point.

Yesterday I crossed an item off my list. To be accurate, I should say I started to cross off an item. Spinning is not as easy as it looks. My wonderful Mother-in-Law, with the patience of a saint, gave me my first spinning lesson along with this beautiful wheel as a thank you. I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am! AJ couldn’t wait to get back from school. Spinning has been on her list too for a while. She can’t wait for her first lesson, but it may be some time.

Here is my first skein. The neat tidy coloured ply was spun by my M-I-L. The white is my first attempt. Part of my lesson was to ply the two together.

At the end of the afternoon, she left me with a bag of fleece and suggested that I try and practise for half an hour a day. The white fleece is for practise. It all has that beautiful sheep smell. (The black is suitable for felting. I’m still making up my mind what to use it for. So many ideas…..)

This is the result of my first solo half an hour. Very textured, but I’m enjoying learning.

Not everyone in the family is taking my new project as seriously as I am. Ah well. It could be worse. A big thank you to my wonderful teacher and I will be visiting soon, for sure.

So my list is one item down. Still have bee keeping, Northern Lights, dolphin watching, make a quilt, learn another language ………

Do you have a list? What’s on your list?

Sparklers and fireworks tonight. Then a bit more spinning.

22 thoughts on “Learning to Spin

  • Friday 5 November, 2010 at 11:51 pm
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    Lucky-ducky! This is on one of my “hope for” lists as well. I wanted to tell you 2 things. First, I tried to say happy birthday and lovely apple doll message earlier, but Blogger wouldn’t let me for some reason. And, I answered your question about the pocket on my blog.

    • Saturday 6 November, 2010 at 11:20 am
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      I do feel lucky. I find it too easy to put things off until the “perfect” time, but it turns out that now is just about right! I’m not sure about the problem with blogger, although my comments were under attack from a spam attack, so that could be it. Thanks you for the birthday wishes. I’ll pass them on to BL. I’m very pleased with the recent doll. Even the pipe cleaner internal structure worked more easily. Must be getting the hang of it.

  • Saturday 6 November, 2010 at 12:33 am
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    Have fun with your wonderful new hobby. It’s so much fun even if it is hard learning to spin. My mum use to spin when I was a kid and the few times I attempted it, found it very enjoyable. What was probably even more fun was the fact that we were using wool from the sheep from our farm.
    Enjoy and have a lovely weekend,
    Anne xx

    • Saturday 6 November, 2010 at 11:52 am
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      AJ and I would love our own flock of sheep, but for the moment we are happy just learning to use the fleece. How lovely to spin your farm’s fleece. I’m enjoying learning something new. Its a good reminder, for me, about how challenging new skills can be to acquire. The children are learning new skills all the time and I have a fresh perspective and empathy for their own challenges now.

  • Saturday 6 November, 2010 at 2:29 am
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    This is amazing! Way to go. I have NO crafting skills so this is NOT on my list (I did sew a quilt when I was in high school for my sister’s christmas gift one year, did the whole thing myself with my mom’s old machine and it was a full size quilt! I was ambitious and energetic back then!!) but jealous that you crossed something off of yours.
    Things on my list –
    kayak apostle islands with husband
    visit Italy and eat/drink my way through the country
    see the Cubs win the world series
    backpack a section of the Appalachian trail with my daughters soon

    • Saturday 6 November, 2010 at 11:47 am
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      I like your list. I hope you achieve them all. Kayaking as a family is on my list too and I can recommend your second one. If you are like me, the list grows all the time. I cross off one and five more pop up, which I think is a good thing.

  • Saturday 6 November, 2010 at 3:56 am
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    It was on my list too and I really enjoyed learning but I haven’t spun for 11 years (…same amount of time I’ve been married…lol) anyway husband kindly bought me a spinning wheel as a present a while back and I’ve kept looking at it (sort of sideways ..it wasn’t accusing but definately had an air of waiting) and so a few weeks ago I bought some wool and this week a bulging cardboard box arrived with a whole fleece tightly squashed in and all I’ve done so far is sniff that lovely sheepy aroma and prodded the springy rolled up fleece rather tentatively… I hope I remember how to spin or I’ll be emailing you to ask your M I L FOR HINTS :0)

    • Saturday 6 November, 2010 at 11:42 am
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      I’m sure it will come flooding back. I’ll gladly pass on questions, but I have a feeling I’ll be the one asking you! I love the idea of a bulging box of fleece. It does smell wonderful. The black fleece is almost dripping with lanolin. I’d love to know how you get on. I now feel like I’ve joined this world wide club of women (and men, maybe) sitting in their kitchens (or wherever) spinning wool. I’m the one with the bobbly yarn!

  • Saturday 6 November, 2010 at 11:47 am
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    Hey, welcome to the world of spinning, enjoy it, it is so addictive, relaxing and satisfying to create your own yarn.

    Your first skein looks much like most peoples when they first start, and you will treasure it; have fun and lots of practice and you’ll be amazed how quickly you see your spinning progress.You’ll soon want to practice with other fibres too, my house is full of fleece from so many breeds of sheep, some alpaca, llama, angora goat (mohair) and vegetable fibres too – so much fun to experiment. Can you tell I’m excited for you?

    Great that AJ wants to try too – my daughter has done some with me (she’s 5) and seems to get how it works and enjoys it so much. Has AJ (or yourself) ever had a go with a drop spindle? They are a great introduction to spinning, and really easy if you pick up some pencil roving (or card your own). There are a few fab books out there to help too, for yourself or for teaching children.

    Look forward to reading more on your new adventure xxx

    • Saturday 6 November, 2010 at 12:06 pm
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      Thanks Dawn. I’m really enjoying learning this new skill. I’m looking forward to trying different fibres, but at the moment, I’m happy to practise on my bag of fleece. All in good time. I hadn’t thought of vegetable fibre. How intriguing. I have a book about spinning which suggests the fur from our breed of dog, so that might be on my list for a later time. Her brushings only. I’m not going to shear her!

      At the moment I’m just enjoying the process and the learning. I had thought of starting AJ on a drop spindle, but was advised that she would find it difficult and might put her off. Any book suggestions and teaching children to spin experience would be welcome. Thanks for your enthusiasm. So far, I’ve found the spinners that I have talked to, are so enthusiastic and helpful. Guess what I’m doing this weekend!

      • Sunday 7 November, 2010 at 9:30 am
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        Hello Cheryl, just popped back (love your sparkler pictures!) as I know you reply to comments. Vegetable fibres are good fun once you have a rhythm with your spinning, flax (linen) is especially nice and useful.
        A word of caution on spinning dog hair, I’ve never done it but know many experienced spinners in the Guild who have, and they say that you rarely ever get rid of the “dog smell” no matter how much you wash it – just thought I’d mention it.

        A great book for beginners and children which you may be able to pick up at a library is “Hands on Spinning by Lee Raven” – easy reading with lots of advice for beginners and there’s a bit about spinning wool with just your hands (to get the idea of how it spins).
        The best bit for children is in a section on spinning with a hooked stick which you can make yourself with an old metal coat hanger (you make it look like a shepherds hook). It shows you the simplest way to start spinning and is a great way to get kids interested as they can do it easily with some practice as it involves rolling it along the leg.

        If you can’t find the book, let me know and I can try perhaps scan a couple of pages for you about the hooked stick method, we’ ve shown this to many children and they love it.

        Have fun, and don’t hesitate to ask if you want me to copy the couple of pages from the book.
        Dawn xx

        • Sunday 7 November, 2010 at 11:04 am
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          Oh Dawn. Thank you for your reply. I have so much to learn about this subject. The book sounds interesting, especially as you have real experience with the method. They have copies on Amazon, so I’ll be able to pick up a copy. There is a “look inside” option, which includes a page with the diagrams for rolling on the lap method. AJ is so keen to learn that this may be an encouraging route to take.

          I’m not sure I would make anything with dog hair. It is more the challenge of spinning it. Years ago, I remember meeting someone who had used the fur from their Pyrenean Mountain dogs to make a jumper. Even as a child, I couldn’t help thinking that I would not want to wear it once the dog was died. Must have been a morbid child! I hadn’t thought of the smell. OK in the context of owning dogs. Probably not so good when out and about, with no dogs in tow.

          Thank you again Dawn for all the info. I’m looking forward to learning more.

  • Saturday 6 November, 2010 at 2:16 pm
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    Oh, it’s on my wish list as well! I’m hoping this winter will be my time to learn to spin! Beautiful wheel!
    xo maureen
    happy spinning!

    • Saturday 6 November, 2010 at 6:11 pm
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      I hope you find the time to learn. Winter seems a good time. I’d love to know how you get on.

  • Saturday 6 November, 2010 at 5:32 pm
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    Happy belated birthday to BL, hope she enjoyed her day. My eldest daughter would be so jealous of your spinning wheel, it’s something she has wanted to have a go at for a long time.

    • Saturday 6 November, 2010 at 6:18 pm
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      Thanks Sue. She did have a lovely day. Stretching out her birthday to today so she can have a special day out. I hope your daughter has a chance soon to try spinning. After the wait, it has not disappointed.

  • Saturday 6 November, 2010 at 6:21 pm
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    I’ve never had the yen to spin, a friend’s mother used to do lots of it and she had a loom as well!
    I’d like to drive through the Alps in an open top vintage sports car and learn to change gears on a motorbike so I could ride one! Oh, and do a trip across a desert in a Landrover Defender, sleeping under the stars with a campfire.

    • Saturday 6 November, 2010 at 6:38 pm
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      Oh, I like your list. There is an element of romance and a whiff of engine oil. I’ve driven under the Alps, but only flown over them. I’ve got the Landrover Defender and it would definitely be my choice for the desert trip. Friendliest car I’ve driven. Defender drivers always wave at each, even if they don’t have a clue who they are.

  • Saturday 6 November, 2010 at 7:08 pm
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    Spinning is on top of my list, you lucky! Ever since before we left England I’ve been wanting to learn how to spin. The opportunities for learning and my available time never seem to match for some reason. In a crafts swap I got a drop spindle, tried to learn on my own but didn’t quite get it. One day it is going to happen. I just know it! Enjoy spinning and I look forward to seeing your creative output. Dog looks great in its new neck warmer. Super hip!
    Luciana

    • Saturday 6 November, 2010 at 9:57 pm
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      It is so tricky finding the time to attend a class. I couldn’t have justified taking time out to go to a spinning class, so this was the only way that I was going to do it. With young children it is always going to be a balancing act. Saying that, I am glad to take some time to myself practising. Gwinny the dog wore the neck warmer under dignified duress. It was most definitely not her idea.

  • Monday 8 November, 2010 at 5:13 pm
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    My list looks very similar to yours – I have bees at the top at the moment! I have managed to do the spinning and find it a bit like magic! That first yarn you create looks just like a designer type – before you know it you will be wishing you could still make it like that…good luck and have fun Em x

    • Monday 8 November, 2010 at 10:37 pm
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      It feels good to be learning a different skill. I need a lot more practise. So far I am specialising in the “designer” type (I like that idea), but I do have moments of something more yarn like. AJ had a little go today. I think, at eight years old, she is going to get the hang of it faster than me! Hmm.

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