You Spin Me Right ‘Round

There is a deep satisfaction in making a product from start to finish. I fell in love with processing raw fleeces a few years ago when I was felting all the time. Though, I am still very passionate about felting, it takes a lot of space and time and I now have at least eight giant totes of nice clean fleeces that need to be used up.

I learned to spin on a drop spindle a long time ago from the same woman who taught me how to felt. I enjoy spinning in this manner, but I am not very proficient at it and I can never seem to make the amount of yarn that I want for a given product.

A couple years back I purchased a second hand spinning wheel, not knowing anything about spinning on a wheel except that it looked like tremendous fun. I had a inkling about how to spin, but when I sat down to use it- it would not spin the wool, it wouldn’t pull anything on to the bobbin, and I couldn’t get the rhythm of the wheel right. So there the wheel sat in my apartment- dormant.

Taking a short class on how to spin on a wheel that is much fancier then what I actually have.
Taking a short class on how to spin on a wheel that is much fancier then what I actually have.

I took short little class on the very basics of hand spinning on wheel. How to draft, how to maintain a steady rhythm with the wheel, and realizing when I am treadling too fast. I tried again to do these very things with my wheel and nothing would happen. I was bummed to say the very least.

Now… let us fast forward to today.

My looms are packed up, dismantled, and getting ready to move to a new location. Usually when we are getting ready to move, I pull out my knitting needles to keep my hands busy. I enjoy knitting. I don’t knit all the time because I have difficulties holding a pair of knitting needles for a long period of time. As I was packing up some boxes, and looking at some roving that I had in my shelf, my spinning wheel slipped back into my mind. I had recently listened to the WeaveCast episode on Spinning for Weaving.

This episode mentioned that many people are under the illusion that it is much more difficult to spin for weaving on the loom- but what did we do LONG before the industrialization of weaving. People sat at home and spun their own yarn for their looms. For some reason this had never crossed my mind.

So I grabbed a little bit of roving and stood at the wheel and got it going a little bit. I had tied a piece of wool yarn to the bobbin and felted it a little bit to the roving I had drafted. I stood in the middle of my living room, surrounded by boxes, and started to spin.

My spinning wheel magically worked! I am not quite sure what I had done, or if the wheel had a curse on it that was finally lifted, but I was spinning. I spun a bunch of odds and ends of roving that I had in my book case and made a hodge-podge skein of yarn. I was thrilled. I’m currently knitting it into a headband to hopefully keep my ears warm.

I had a large hank of hand painted roving that I bought a long time ago, and so I spun that as well.

My full bobbin of beautiful hand painted roving, spun into a single ply yarn.
My full bobbin of beautiful hand painted roving, spun into a single ply yarn.

Currently I am spinning from a fleece of Jacob’s Wool that I had purchased to felt with to make rugs. I am going to ply this naturally variegated grey single with the hand painted single of the unknown wool.

A bobbin half full of Jacob Fleece.
A bobbin half full of Jacob Fleece.

The whole thing is not perfect- I have probably over spun two bobbins worth of wool. It is exciting however because this is getting me one step closer to being able to truly make an item from raw material to final finished product. I will post the finished project once it is skeined and washed for you to see.

My goal: spin from the fleece and weave the material to make a blanket, or to be used as a garment.

It may not happen with this wheel, but I am determined that this will become part of my weaving process. (Not all the time, but something special to offer to the world.)

Have you ever thought about spinning for your hand weaving or is this something that you have actually done? Tell me about it!




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