It is COLD. of course, not as cold as it will be in a couple of months, but being that we are coming off summer it feels VERY cold. It was 18 degrees this morning when we did barn chores. Brrrrrr! So, being that it is so cold, I have had the perfect excuse to keep working on learning to spin. I did some more spinning with my drop spindle, but my back was not handling that well. So I decided that if I wanted to spin, it would have to be at the wheel. It was time to take the plunge. 🙂
I waited to get out the wheel until the kids were in bed and my husband was busy, so that I could really concentrate without interruption. I dusted it off, rubbed all the wood with wood treatment, and just got to know it a little better. I figured out all the parts, and where they went and the basics of how it worked. I have a double-drive wheel. I took out my spinning book and re-read most of it, reminding myself of the concepts. I set up a chair, and a few baskets with my tools and roving, and then I dove in. I started with the Navajo-Churro roving I had.
I have a kind of scientific brain, so I like to try something, assess the results, and then try again with improvements. I made several short sections, probably a couple of yards each, experimenting and trying out different things as I went. I would spin up the single ply for a few yards, then I would take it off and use my drop spindle to ply it into double-ply yarn (I wasn’t ready to ply on the wheel yet). Then I would examine it and feel it, and then go again, making changes based on what I saw. I was surprised, in that it wasn’t the overwhelming, confusing mess that it had been last summer when I had tried. I think that the drop spindle really taught me a lot about how it all works and that basis helped me to know better how to work with my wheel.
I have continued working with the wheel, and am really getting the hang of it. I am excited to say that, instead of the frustrated feel I was getting from it last summer, it is now feeling very calming and even therapeutic. I am enjoying it so much!
I am finding that I really do much better when I pre-draft my fiber, so I am continuing to do that. I don’t really know if that is something that you are always supposed to do, or if that drops off when you get more experience.
Once I started getting somewhat consistent I decided it was time to finally make a nice, long skein of all the same thing, so that I could actually make something from my own yarn. Everything I had done until then, whether on the drop spindle or the wheel, had been 12 yards or less. So I used up the rest of the Corriedale I had, and I even plyed it ON the wheel. I ended up with a 37-yard skein (technically, a 23-yard one and a 14-yard one because the bobbin couldn’t hold more of that double-ply). I like the thickness it turned out, it is chunky, but not TOO chunky. I am hoping that is enough to make at least one ear-warmer headband for my daughters (hopefully two).
Hopefully in the next few days I can get around to trying out knitting with it and seeing how it feels.
I ordered more fiber. It should be here by the end of the week and I am SO excited to work with it. I chose some dyed merino, some natural white longwool, and a luxury sample pack (suggested by vuchickens.wordpress.com). I specifically went with the merino and longwool in order to practice and gain confidence so that I can work with our own wool off our sheep. We have a Lincoln Longwool (Stella), and a CVM x Merino Cross (Fiona). We already have a fleece off of Stella, and we will have another one off of Stella and one off of Fiona after their shearing this Jan/Feb some time.
My husband made each of the kids some primitive drop spindles so they could try it and decide if it was something they enjoyed. We like to let the kids try all the different things we do around here, but we like them to try it as cheap as possible, and then if they really do like it we go to the expense of getting them the tools to do it long-term. We often find that only 1-2 out of the 4 kids ever really sticks with any one thing. Sure enough, oldest son does not like spinning, youngest son is just too young (but really wanted to try), and the two girls are both really into it. So husband is looking forward to making them nicely balanced drop spindles in his woodshop for Christmas, and I am hoping to get them each some of their own fiber too. We are going to watch for the next month to see if they really do choose to stick with it and then move forward with Christmas presents if they do really like it.
What a fun new
Speaking of the woodshop, my husband has been wanting to put a woodstove in his woodshop ever since we moved in. But with all the other projects it has been pushed back. We had the pot belly wood stove to go in there, but no stovepipe for it. Well, recently he was given some stovepipe that was torn out of a house remodel and was headed for the dump. So this week he and oldest son installed the wood stove. Now the woodshop is not bitterly cold and they can work up there comfortably for long periods of time. They have spent every extra second up there enjoying themselves and building all sorts of wonderful things. We have even delivered a couple of meals to them up there. But that’s ok, because the girls and I have been eating quickly so we can spent every extra second spinning. 🙂
As you can see, we are all having a lot of fun and all is well in the cozy house and the cozy shop while the bitter November wind whistles outside at Willow Creek Farm.