Getting Started With Spinning

Corriedalte natural wool roving combed topThis week I have taken a little break from knitting and swapped over to crochet. I’m not very good at crochet, but I know that takes practice. I’m working on a small amigurumi baby unicorn that you can find on Ravelry, and while I’ve been working on it I’ve also been reading up on spinning and everything that’s entailed with that.

Ever since I started knitting I have envied the yarns I saw spun up and hand dyed. Beautiful skeins with a homemade quality to them. Some obviously better than others, but that comes from time and practice in your craft, like any other.

When I first started getting interested in crochet I purchased a top whirl drop spindle, but I have yet to use it. With my new found love of knitting and all things fibre I decided to pick it up again. If I enjoy it as much as I think I might, my “end goal” is to save up for a spinning wheel. My LYS (local yarn store) sells a few models, and I’ve been looking into what I may potentially want in a wheel. I will probably stay away from second hand wheels as I’m not versed enough on what to look for in a smooth working spinning wheel.

They can be quite pricey. The one I’m looking at ranges at around $450 and it’s a beginner model. Then you have to figure out whether you want single or double treadle. This article here went into a lot of the particulars and gave me a better idea of what was involved.

Before I even think of buying a wheel I want to try out the drop spindle, and so that’s how I ended up buying a few things of roving combed top. The first one I purchased is corriedale (that’s the sheep it comes from), which is supposed to be a good starting wool because of the long draft. Draft is the section of yarn you pull out away from the bunch to spin. The braid is not dyed, and is a combination of grey / white.

I also bought a second type, this one merino dyed in a crab apple red. Merino is much harder to spin for a beginner, and even more so on a drop spindle. The draft is very short. That being said it’s also an incredibly nice fiber and I’m really looking forward to experimenting and practicing with both.

A lot of people think that spinning your own yarn is cheaper than buying yarn – but it comes down to around the same price or even more. One thing to keep in mind is that it takes a lot more ‘hobby time’ to prepare / spin / knit yarn rather than just knitting it, so you may be getting more “value” out of your money if you do the whole process yourself. That’s what I’m hoping to do. If you have any good fibre suppliers that you want to share (especially those in Canada) please don’t hesitate to let me know! For now I’m still stumbling around getting myself familiar with the price ranges and terms.

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