Yesterday afternoon I had the excellent good fortune to learn how to spin yarn from my pottery teacher, Danica (and she is giving me these lessons, bless her, in exchange for fudge, because she is just that awesome). She brought a bunch of supplies to teach me with, and we sat in the Barnes & Noble off Union Square for about two hours just chatting and spinning yarn. Magically, the result (for me, anyway!) was this:
This teensy ball of yarn is about an inch big, but it’s mine! I made it, and with a lot less difficulty than I thought. Of course, my brain was having a spaz attack, and I knew that, like coffee, sewing, and fantasy novels, I’d found another thing to spend my “spare time” obsessing over.
I went to The Yarn Tree in Brooklyn to pick up a spindle of my own and some fiber. I got a hi-lo spindle, which doubles as either a high whorl spindle or a low whorl spindle depending on your preference (there are tons of different kinds of spindles; Danice taught me on a high whorl so I decided to try my new toy out as a low whorl), and I also bought some beautifully dyed merino wool – only 4 ounces, but it’s a ton of fiber. Here’s the spindle, with a lead on it (the lead is commercial yarn):
And here is one of the two different color fibers I picked up:
Delicious! It’s so fluffy, too, soft and lovely. There are bits of white, pink, and darker blue in there, too, which makes for a very interesting yarn.
Before you start spinning fibers into yarn, though, you have to draft them, which is basically pulling them apart so they’re super fluffy and thin (I’m pretty sure that this wool was carded…? Forgot to ask, but there are several different preparations for the fibers before you draft them). Here’s what my first strips looked like this morning:
Next step is to attach the drafted fibers to the lead of commercial yarn, and start spinning on the spindle. Alas, I haven’t figured out the self-timer on the camera yet, so I don’t actually have any pictures of me using the spindle in action. Basically, you hold the fibers in your left hand and spin the spindle with your right in a consistent direction, and the fibers twist up into yarn (and then you can add another twist of yarn later, which is plying, which I haven’t gotten to yet). Periodically you wind what you’ve made around the spindle, keeping the weight near the whorl, and keep going.
And you get something like this, if you’re super new at it:
Not too shabby, if I say so myself! This is about an hour’s worth of spinning for me. It’s so rough looking, but I love it, and the color is amazing! It’s extremely inconsistent – goes from really thick to super thin – but lovely. No idea how this will knit, since I’ve only got about a third of a skein spun anyway. I have a few kinks to work out in the way that I spin and the way that I prepare the fiber, but I’ve so got this. Yet another fiber art that I’ll be spending time on, and, in time, offering for sale on the Etsy store.
Speaking of the Etsy store, while I’m waiting on the Kickstarter project to come through (which now I’m starting to worry about, as there’s been little activity for a few days…) I’ve started working on some small quilty things that I’m going to offer for sale, likely to raise money for Japan. Here are a couple of pictures of the fabric:
And, just to give you a sense of what my process is like when I’m working on more than one project at a time without any particular deadlines or end-goals:
My poor kitchen table is being used for everything but eating! It’s currently the placeholder for my pots, fiber, spindle, quilting supplies, and idea notebook… and an empty glass of water. I’m sure my cat will come and wreck havoc when I’m out later today (that goofy fluff ball!).
Finally, here’s an idea of what’s going to happen with the quilted stuff, though I’m not telling what they are yet:
A productive and exciting morning! I’ve gotten a lot done, it’s sunny and beautiful out, and I’m feeling really good. I’m going to head out to La Mano for a few hours, and then tonight I’ll be seeing Three Pints Shy at Hill Country BBQ for St. Patty’s Day!
Let the revelry begin!