Monday, March 3, 2014

Adventures with the Drop Spindle

I have been spinning for a number of years now but always on my Ashford Traveller (Double Drive). I learned a while back and took it very seriously for awhile so that I could learn it well enough to produce decent worsted-spun, worsted weight yarn. I never became very good, but I was pleased enough with my results while knitting up the yarn that I produced to feel like I had accomplished something. I don't spin often now since my lack of time causes me to need to prioritize my crafting interests, but it is nice to know that when I do pull out my wheel, it comes back like riding a bike does.

Drop spindling is another story for me. I got one years back and tried it on a few occasions.  One of my friends gave me a quick introduction, but then I had to follow the directions in books and on You-Tube to continue learning. I never got the hang of it and felt frustrated by my apparent lack of coordination. However, last week, I noticed that my awesome LYS, River Colors, was having a drop spindle class. I signed up and enjoyed a lovely Sunday afternoon learning to drop spindle. I really struggled, but by the end of the class, I felt like I was in a bit of a flow.   The yarn I was making was very lumpy and bumpy, but since I felt like I could keep the spindle spinning while allowing some twist to travel up the fiber, I was happy. From my previous experience with the wheel, I knew that in a matter of time, I would get better and have a hard time making this kind of beginner's yarn again even if I wanted to do so (which sometimes you do if you are looking for novelty yarn). I came home and kept trying. Much to my chagrin, I didn't seem to be doing as well as I did at the lesson. Now, I am determined to keep practicing to see if I can make any progress. We shall see!

Here are some pictures to give you an idea of where I am right now drop spindling in comparison to how much progress I have made with wheel spindling:

My first yarn on the drop spindle yesterday:





My latest efforts on the drop spindle:






Some yarn and a project from my previous spinning wheel efforts (after a lot of practice):





As you can see, I have a long way to go with the drop spindle to even approximate the kind of yarn I can now make on the wheel. However, I still have a long way to go on the wheel to approximate the kind of yarn I see experienced spinners making. Whether I will ever get there with either of these crafts remains to be seen! I dream of being a true "spinner" some day, but I fear that it isn't part of my DNA in the way knitting and crochet seem to be. Those crafts came to me fairly naturally (even though I had to practice with each new technique). Spinning feels like something I have to really think hard about to make my hands and movements work in the way they should.

What are some of your experiences with spinning? Do you have any secrets to success to share?  I would love to hear from others about experiences you are having or have had.

By the way, I have continued to pick up my knitting and crocheting a little bit every day, too, making progress the way I usually do (slowly but steadily like the tortoise in the famous parable). My husband's sweater is growing slowly with the back completed and the front piece halfway completed now, the Granny Stripe afghan is also growing, and it should be ready for me to begin the edging in a couple of weeks, and finally, I continue to knit the Ivy League Vest using the two-handed stranding technique while becoming more and more comfortable with it all the time. I am really enjoying Fair Isle!

As you can see, something in me just can't stop learning. I find that to be the most exciting part of the entire process of practicing these wonderful crafts. The only thing better than learning in my book is being able to teach others. However, through continually learning something new and through the process of struggling with it, I find I become a better teacher (both of the fiber arts, but more importantly, as an English teacher and as a parent helping my children with their learning processes). One problem with this thirst to always be learning, though, is it really slows down my production time on the projects I have started already! Oh well, the fun is in the process for me, and when I do finish the product, I am happy to finally have it to wear or use.


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