Friday, July 26, 2019

Back to Spinning after a Long Hiatus

My beloved Ashford Traveller Spinning Wheel:

I was fortunate to be able to buy a spinning wheel back in 2006 after I had earned a little bit of extra money doing some test knitting for a knitting book. I bought my beloved Ashford Traveller Double Drive, Double Treadle wheel at that time, and began a process of learning to spin yarn. I remember it not coming easily to me. I definitely experienced frustration, but I kept at it. Over about the course of a year, I spun various rovings and combed tops and became a bit more proficient.

Unfortunately, life got in the way, and as I become really busy with my kids' activities, I found myself too tired to spend the time at my wheel I needed to continue the process of learning. My lonely wheel sat in the corner gathering dust. 

Almost ten years later, I am ready to begin this journey again. I still have a lot to learn, but as an empty-nester, I now have the mind space and enthusiasm for the learning process again. Here are some of the spinning projects I have been working on in the last couple of weeks:

Malabrigo Nube Combed Top

A few years back, I took a class on spindle spinning and bought some Malabrigo Nube from my local LYS. I never really took to the spindle, so I almost forgot I had this fiber. Now that I have taken up spinning on my wheel again, I have been seeing a lot of beautiful photos of Malabrigo Nube spun up and began considering buying some. Luckily, I went looking through my fiber stash first to take inventory and was pleasantly surprised to see I had some!

I am finding that I still need some practice spinning Merino from combed top, but I felt like I had a better handle on it than I remember having when I tried it on the wheel with another Merino top back in 2007 or so. Here is what I ended up with after spinning some of the Malabrigo Nube:

Here it is after plying from my tensioned Lazy Kate from Ashford to make a 2-ply yarn (the yarn at the bottom of the photo -- the knitted swatch is from another yarn I spun):

As you can see my yarn isn't the prettiest yarn I have ever seen and seems over-twisted in a lot of spots. However, I decided to knit it up to see if I would like it better that way. I am fairly pleased with what I got, especially for an early try after just getting back to this:

Coopworth/Mohair Roving

Currently, I am working on spinning the large amount of remaining Coopworth/Mohair blend fiber that I have from a fiber festival purchase back in 2007 or 2008. My plan was to make a sweater from the resulting handspun yarn, so I bought 2lbs. I am not sure what I will make now, but I am having fun thinking about it and working my way through the fiber. 

I am beginning to accumulate some skeins and making progress towards my goal:

What I am finding about starting again is how much I have to learn but also how much fun the learning process can be. The important thing is for me to remember that learning any new skill takes time. I can't expect to be perfect at it right away, but I can take pride in every improvement I make along the way. 

Since my profession is teaching, I truly believe that becoming a student of a new skill is an important way for me to keep connected to my students and to be able to understand the challenges, frustrations, and successes they have along the way in their learning processes. Learning to spin is just another way for me to experience all of these aspects of being a student.