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