A few years ago, I was bitten by the spinning bug. Not the bicycle exercise kind, the making yarn kind. It’s surprisingly portable, easy, and addictive. I’ve spun in all sorts of crazy places, including while walking to class, and almost nobody has so much as given me a second look! It’s amazing how much yarn I can make on a spindle. Not that I don’t covet a spinning wheel all the same. I even have some mad scientist plans to make a wheel, but they will get their own post.
I made a couple of spindles with wooden toy wheels and dowel rods, light ones that I’ve been using to make really thin singles and heavy ones with a hook that I’ve been using for plying and ply-on-the-fly. All supplies for them except the sandpaper from Hobby Lobby, since I worked there and all. I plan to make a few more; old cds, decorative wooden motifs, big glass beads, and stone donuts all beckon to be stuck on a dowel as whorls.
Actually, the first non-cat-hair fiber I spun was wool sold for felting from Hobby Lobby, from which I have knitted some pretty sweet socks. Easy access makes a difference, sometimes, and the local yarn shops are just starting to have spinning fibers and equipment. Oooo, and now the farmer’s market in Fayettville has a fiber and yarn seller!
When I decided to take spinning more seriously, I bought a pound of natural cream-colored New Zealand wool roving from Au Gres Sheep Factory at the big War Eagle craft fair.
Being the pack rat I am, there were soon more fiber acqusitions: dyed and natural Romney roving from fleecemakers on Etsy, 8 oz. of Paradise Fibers’ Potluck domestic wool roving in multi-colored naturals, a silk cap from a local shop called KnitWicks, 4 oz. of gorgeous purple-pink batts from the farmer’s market, and about a pound of cotton roving from the thrift store for $2!
And…I found bags of alpaca fleece on Craigslist. I only bought one bag, and it weighed 5 pounds! Beautiful, rich reddish brown locks and fluff, although it’s really dusty. I’d still like to get some bamboo, and try some different wools and exotics, but these fibers will keep me busy for a while!
I’ve been trying out ‘ply-on-the-fly’ with the pretty dyed Romney on a bigger plying spindle with the hook. It’s a fabulous technique, but it’s much harder to make light weight yarn with the bigger spindle and the results so far are roughly worsted weight. Not that I mind; the Romney is really fluffy and will make a great hat and mittens or something similarly warm and cozy. I’m using a smaller spindle as a supported spindle to make cotton thread. I think it will ply up into something like size 5 pearl cotton, which I’ll dye and crochet or tat into lace.