Will Too

I am ridiculously competitive sometimes. Last week, when I was listing the few contents of a room for Querido, he jokingly bet that the spinning wheel in the closet would stay there until we moved again. It wasn’t meant to be a challenge, but clearly I didn’t have enough to do, because I took it as one.

I set up the spinning wheel in the middle of the living room and grabbed a bag of very lovely Arizona Alpaca roving, and spun.

Spinning wheel, chair, and lazy Kate in front of a wicker couch
Getting a spinning wheel out requires a bit of a mess.

The alpaca was nice to work with, once I realized that the knobby thing under the spool adjusted how fast the spool took up the yarn. I zipped through the small bag (half an ounce of fiber?), finishing it off just as I felt like I was getting the hang of my wheel.

Small brown dog sleeping in the sun
Melba had a hard weekend.

We waited for the singles to set, and then plied.

Handspun yarn on a spool
It’s yarn! Not a lot of yarn, and not very good yarn, but yarn I made!

And now I have yarn! I was pleased to have my wheel out, and to win Querido’s non-bet (or perhaps allay my own fear) that I would never use the thing. But at the same time…it was over so quickly. I think I had this fantasy, that I would learn how to spin in one sitting and magically start making the kind of yarns I like to knit with: fine, even, plied yarns. I was never one for novelty yarn, even in those dark days when fun-fur mania spread rampant and unchecked through crafting circles. Even now, I regard high-end sequin yarns and slubby yarns with suspicion. Although I don’t know much about handspinning, I know that one spool of thick, dense yarn will not go very far, and what I have will only be suited to the sort of pattern that shows off a slubby yarn…the kinds of yarns that I usually avoid like the plague.


If I’m going to make this work, I’m going to need several ounces–maybe a pound–of plain fiber, so when I make more dense, slubby new-spinner yarn, at least there will be enough to make a wonky hat for some unsuspecting acquaintance.


9 responses to “Will Too”

  1. I know you’re not yet happy with its unevenness, but it must be so satisfying to work with yarn that you’ve made. (Says she who’s desperately resisting the temptation to learn to spin and dye, so gets her kicks vicariously.)

  2. If that is your first attempt I would say its great. Its better than my first attempt. There is a very useful begiining spinners group on ravelry, and interweave currently have a sale on their downloadable dvds including spinning ones. As for the fibre suggestion, bear in mind I am a real beginner spinner (using a spindle not a wheel) my first ever fibre was jacob, and that spun reasonably easily. I personally found merino reasonably easy to spin, which is what I moved on to next. I have read that merino is not thought a perfect beginner fibre though I had no difficulty. I am currently using a bag of mixed white wool which I got cheap and that is working Ok as well.. I was told to stick to wool with a longish staple as a beginner and something not too slippery as well. My next fibre to try is blue faced leicester which is soft next to the skin but hopefully will be easy to draft. hope that helps a bit.

    • Thank you for the recommendations, Jenni! I have spun on a drop spindle before, but I feel like I’m starting from scratch on the wheel. I will start looking for those fibers!

  3. I have heard a lot of good things about BFL, and I’ve enjoyed the merino I’ve spun, though I am also new and only using a spindle.

    Check out “Straw Into Gold.” (Ask google for their web address, please – I can’t get it for you right now.) They sell undyed fiber by the ounce, for reasonable prices, so you could get, for example, 2 oz of each different kind, to try and to see what you like best; and 6-8 oz of BFL, merino, or wensleydale, to spin a larger practice project.

    Also see if you can get “A Knitter’s Book of Wool” from the library – I think that’s the right name, but it’s at least close. That will tell you about the characteristics of the wools you choose, so you’ll be able to pick other wools you like based on the characteristics of the wools you try.

    I’m glad you got your wheel out to play. Keep at it, and have fun!

  4. I’ve just JUST started spinning and found that the easiest yarn to work with was some lovely, soft, shetland. It was a joy! I have a huge bag of it and was spinning 2-3 spindles/day for the first week and had loads and loads of improvement in that time. Alas, Christmas comes and I have other things to get done but am excited to work with my wheel once they’re done!

    Enjoy your wheel!

  5. Ah the challenges we take on from our partners – early in my knitting career I was fondling some yarn I wanted, and my husband made some comment about me not actually following through (can’t remember actual wording). I said I could prove my commitment by giving up chocolate for three months – and I did!
    I still have that bag of yarn though…

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