I began thinking recently that I would love to learn how to make my own yarn. There are not many areas of the crafting world I have not yet explored, and this was one of the few that were left.
I started out by researching spinning wheels, and quickly got overwhelmed by all the options. I decided that I couldn’t purchase a very expensive wheel, not knowing what type I wanted, what weight of yarn I would primarily want to spin, or what brands were best. I left it there, thinking I simply was not able to spin my own yarn.
Cut to a week later. I was watching the Yarngasm podcast, and Kristin was talking about a new drop spindle she had purchased. This was a completely foreign object to me. I had somehow never come in contact with such a thing. I decided to do some heavy research into this as well, and discovered that it was an affordable alternative to a spinning wheel. I decided to purchase two of them from Tina’s Angoras on Etsy, one very light (about 1.2 oz) and one slightly heavier (about 1.7 oz).
I received them in the mail shortly afterward, along with this bonus bump of alpaca fibre. (I don’t have any pictures of the bare spindles, because I started spinning IMMEDIATELY).
Pretty soon, I had finished spinning the lumpiest yarn known to man, and I was hooked. I wound my first handspun into a mini skein, and then dove into the black abyss of hand dyed fibre available online.
*Good thing even the lumpiest yarn can be made into an irregular little hexipuff or two…
I found Quaere Fibre on Etsy, who had a skein of sock yarn in the Sonic Screwdriver colorway I had been wanting for quite some time. I decided to order the skein, along with a braid of merino in her Succulent colorway.
Anyone who knows me, knows that these are pretty much my favourite colours, so naturally it had to be mine. This time though, I wanted to try something different. Besides trying to spin more consistent yarn (I could only go up from my first yarn), I was also interested in plying it. I had read about making a lazy kate, spinning two singles and then plying them together, but this just sounded like a long, tedious process to me. I like projects that are finished when you finish them, you know?
Enter, navajo plying, or plying on the fly. (There is a tutorial on this in one episode of the Yarngasm podcast, or I recommend checking out Expertly Dyed on YouTube). I found this method to be very easy, and once you have finished spinning all of your fibre, you’re done. You could pretty much knit with it right off the spindle.
This is my progress so far. I would guess that it’s about a fingering – heavy fingering weight. I’m not finished the braid by any means (maybe 1 oz at most), but I look at it as something I can pick up when I don’t feel like knitting. Maybe it will take me a year, but I’ll finish it eventually.
I’m not sure how much yarn I’ll get out of this, but I’m thinking it really wants to be a hat when it grows up.
However, that may be a while from now, because I have put this on hold in favour of joining Voolenvine’s D-Spakal (Drop spindle spin along, knit along). Check out the Ravelry group if you’re interested in joining.
As an aside, we decided to donate a prize for the end of the d-spakal, in the form of one of our one of a kind tree ring tote bags. At the end of the d-spakal, Kristin will choose an entry at random to win the bag, as well as a winner of a lovely drop spindle donated by Aaron Makes Stuff (Etsy). If you watch the most recent episode of Yarngasm – episode 131 (link above), you can see her show off our bag and give our shop a very nice shout out.
The bag in question. This would make a very nice knitting project bag, if one were so inclined.
The goal of the d-spakal is to spin a shawl’s worth of yarn (400-500 yds), entirely on a drop spindle. Then, you will knit your yarn into a shawl from a pattern of your choice. If you want to have a plied yarn, you have to spin more. i.e. if you want a 2 ply, you need to spin 800-1000 yds. So, I decided to go with singles, because yardage into the quadruple digits terrifies me.
I then had to go looking for a fibre that would keep me engaged (read: NO solid colors). I had a few possible options when I found Spun Right Round on Etsy. If you like colour, this is the place for you. I settled on this braid of Polwarth in the Picnic colorway.
I don’t think it would be possible to get bored with this.
This really isn’t a colorway I would normally buy, but I wanted to step outside my comfort zone. When it arrived, I was really happy I did. The colours are super bright and fully saturated, with some neutral greys and browns thrown in to break it up. The colours range from bold jewel tones to soft pastels in orange, magenta, purple, blue, green and yellow.
This is not the best photo, but this is what I spun in the first evening. I’m looking forward to getting into some of those greens and blues.
I have been supplementing my spinning with some reading. If you are also new to the drop spindle, or are interested in learning more about the history and origin of this tool, I highly recommend reading Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont.
To those of you considering trying out a drop spindle, I hope I’ve enabled you!
As always, follow me on Instagram (link in sidebar) for more consistent updates and in progress photos.