Spinning Yarn

When my first, and so far only, spinning wheel, the Babe Pinkie, came in the mail, I was so excited.

Yeah, it’s made of PVC

But it was HARD! And no one told me. I read Start Spinning by  Maggie Casey and that was amazingly helpful, but not as much as I needed it to be. There’s no substitute for a good teacher, so find one if possible. It wasn’t for me due to finances (I mean, look at that wheel) and the fact that I was about to go back to school. So I self taught. Hey, you learn a LOT when you self teach. But, seriously, take a class. Or at least be all over the Ravelry forums, in the spinning groups. There’s groups for beginning spinning, people with Babe wheels, local spinning groups. They are very friendly and very helpful.

No one told me how much roving I was going to ruin. If your wheel comes with free wool, like mine did, USE IT. You will feel a lot worse about your crappy yarn if you didn’t put a ton of work or money into obtaining the wool. This is the stuff I couldn’t even pretend I could do something with.

It felt like a lot more than it looks

You see, I was scared of it or something. I could treadle just fine, but if I had the wool in my hand, as soon as I felt that tug (which was a lot sooner than I expected, I didn’t even have a chance to get a rhythm!), I would stop. Then, I finally got comfortable with it, but I couldn’t get my “yarn” to wind on the bobbin. I tried everything the book and the people on the internet suggested. I just couldn’t get it going.

First, I oiled it. That helped a little. Then I predrafted my fiber a lot smaller than I had been doing. Helped a little more. But I was still doing a lot of manual winding. Then I found someone who said that sometimes they have to take the straps for the brake (the Babe has a leather strap with Velcro for the break) and pull on them real hard while treadling to get the bobbin to wind the yarn. And this worked! My problem the whole time was that my break wasn’t tight enough because it’s really hard to secure Velcro as tightly as you want. I had to re-tighten frequently, but the bobbin was finally loading on it’s own. It was a good day (after a lot of tears).

One thing to point out though, is that this is a temporary fix. It turns out my real problem was that 1) my yarn was too thick and 2) I wasn’t letting it go. I thought I was, but it turns out that by just putting the tiniest bit of pressure on the yarn, it’ll twist and you can let it slide through your hands. Just make sure you have pre-drafted it enough that this won’t twist your roving.

Yeah, my yarn is uneven crap, but it wound and it’ll be okay. I can make a funky scarf out of it.

Believe it or not, the left one was my first

The lesson to take away from this is that spinning will be harder than you expect. And if you self-teach, you’ll probably feel like you’re the only one it’s ever been that hard for. So don’t do it while you’re freaking out about college classes and PMSing, because there doesn’t need to be that many tears or yelling because the chocolate ice cream is empty. It does get better. It just takes awhile. Not counting my first pile, by my 3rd bobbin I was making something that could pass for yarn. And you just get better from there.



About How We Flourish

Welcome! I'm Chloe. I have a passion for creating a healthy life and a healthy environment. Join me as I explore homemade and reusable products, essential oils, and real food. Look around a bit. I look forward to getting to know you.
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2 Responses to Spinning Yarn

  1. I love to knit, but have never tried spinning. I’ve always thought it would be great to learn to do it, but I’m not sure I could physically do it. I have severe nerve damage in my shoulder/neck/upper right arm areas and some things are just beyond me at this stage of the game. I’ve been a knitter for about half of my 48 years, but have noticed that over the past couple of years, my speed has decreased significantly. I’m not saying that my only purpose was to see how fast I could knit, because of course, it wasn’t. But between us, hubby and I have 8 children and 13 grandchildren. Then you count siblings, nieces, nephews and friends and if you like to make homemade gifts for birthday and holidays – that’s a lot of knitting! Whew!

    Ok, back to the subject at hand (sorry about getting onto a knitting jag). I would assume that with a treadle type of spinning wheel, it would take a while of holding your arms out… you know, like to hold the wool or whatever. Now, this is coming from a person who has never even gone to YouTube to see a spinning wheel (and now will since I had the idea). Can you give me any idea of where you think a person uses the bulk of energy when spinning yarn? I suppose it might also depend on the type of spinning, too huh?

    Ok, I’ve asked enough for one day, ha ha. Thanks for posting with the pictures as you’ve gone along though!

    • healthypeoplehealthyplanet says:

      I don’t sit with proper posture while spinning (I don’t have a good spinning area set up), so it really bothers my back and shoulders. If you have a store or spinning group in your area, I would recommend going into the store or to a meeting and see if you could practice on a wheel to see if you think you could do it or if anyone has any suggestions on how to make it easier for you. If you do find out your able to spin, I would recommend using wool that is already prepped and ready to be spun, because prepping it yourself is a lot of work.

      Good luck! And good luck with any holiday knitting you will be doing as well.

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