I think my obsession in spinning was a bit inevitable. I love learning new things and when we came home from Bendigo Woollen Mills last year I had picked up a massive bag of roving for $9 and there was no way I could use it all for needle felting.

So spinning, I don’t know what piqued my interest but somehow I got on the idea of spinning my own yarn. I didn’t know anyone close by me who spun so my adventure started off on the internet trying to learn as much as I possibly could about everything. Had I known that the Handspinner and Weavers Guild is like 2 suburbs over this probably would have all gone a little quicker and painlessly haha!

As with all crafts I try, I didn’t want to invest before I knew it was going to be a long term love affair. I’ve been knitting for *cough*25*cough* years and I still haven’t even splashed out for a nice set of needles… long story short I did a lot of reading on Ravelry and decided to make a drop spindle to begin with.

Drop spindles are basically a stick with some kind of weight on the bottom so they spin evenly. I saw a lot of DIY versions using CDs or Kinex or even Hama beads. I settled on a mini CD I had no use for and some random junk around the house. This isn’t the best spindle, it’s really not even a very average spindle but it worked to let me learn the basics on!

You need:

  • Mini or regular CD
  • 2 pens
  • Wire
  • Tape/glue
  • Bobby pin

Remove the insides of the pens so you just have a hollow tube and tape the non-writing ends together.

Tape the CD 1/3 of the way up the pens and make sure it’s level.

Shove a piece of wire in the top inside the pen and bend it into a hook. Tape in place.

 

Now you’re ready to spin.

To make yarn, tie a piece of commercial yarn on and bring it up through the hook. Ignore the fact that the yarn is tied to the roving in this photo >_>

Hold the whole thing by the yarn (around 2 inches from the end) and spin the spindle by holding the bottom pen with your finger/thumb and flicking it.

Honestly this tutorial isn’t going to be super thorough because I didn’t take enough photos, I read a lot about doing this  when I was starting but it’s something you really need to *see* done to understand the motions so I suggest watching some videos on Youtube. Don’t just limit yourself to one teacher either, watch as many people as you can because everyone has a different technique.

Spin it a few times so the yarn is wound really tightly then grab the spindle and hold it between your knees. We’re going to do a method called “Park and Draft” which is how most people learn to do this. Grab the end of your roving and place it on the end of the yarn. Let go of the yarn then let it and the roving twist themselves together.

Now you’re ready to spin the actual roving. This will take some practice to get right but that’s part of the fun.

You want to hold the twisted bit so the roving in your hand doesn’t get twisted, this way you can gently pull/tease the roving (called drafting) apart so you have enough for the yarn you want to make then bring twist into it.

The motion is basically that you load the yarn you’ve already got with extra twist by spinning the spindle and then hold it between your knees while you draft out some roving so it’s the width you want and allow the twist to go up the roving and turn it into yarn. When you’ve got a bit too much, wrap it around the spindle and keep going. I used a bobby pin to hold the yarn on the spindle in place and to stop it all unravelling when I eventually dropped the spindle.

So yarn wrapped around like this and twisted in the yarn at the top:

Add more twist:

Draft some more of the roving and let the twist creep up:

Twist some more, draft more roving, repeat:

At this point my arms started getting sore >_>

To turn this single ply into 2ply you basically fold it in half so I wrapped it around my hand to find the other end, tied them in a knot and started letting them twist together.

Really you should ply together by spinning the opposite direction on the spindle but I didn’t know that at the time so I just did it like this and then rolled it into a ball.

My first ball of yarn! It’s uneven, overspun in places and tiny but who cares? YARN!

With that, I started making more… and more… and experimenting by spinning different directions and with different widths and becoming more even. I just kind of kept going….

I knitted little swatches as I went so I could see the difference of the techniques I tried. They’re just little 10×10 stitches but it was so helpful to see things like how very tightly spun yarn didn’t have a finish that I liked when knitted up because you could see the individual strands.

First try:

Second try ended up curling back on itself… I think I spun in the wrong direction in some parts but it’s more even.

Third try… getting there!

This one is a preview of the next post where I started getting better just to show that I *did* actually eventually make some nice yarn and progress hahaha!

Yarn porn:


All of those first tries got knitted up into a little cowl for my Mum’s Christmas gift which I think she loved because it was extra hand made.

It was really fun to learn this way and see how much roving was needed for what size yarn etc. I spent a weekend playing around with it before I became frustrated with the speed. I don’t have very long arms so the stopping and starting was irritating. I was having fun making yarn but this just wasn’t a method that I enjoyed using so the next day I became a bit more inventive and added some electricity…

part 2  of the spinning adventure is coming up next 😀