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Spinning into September

If you read the blog post from a couple of weeks ago and have been following the shop's TikTok video, you know that I've been doing a lot of spinning, particularly with the drop spindle. Spinning yarn has been soul soothing and provided me with a tool as I grieve my mother.


I first started spinning yarn in 2013. I had bought a cheap drop spindle set off of Amazon (and for the record, I do NOT recommend this route if you want to try spinning). Those initial attempts were, in a word, awful. I had trouble drafting the roving that came with the spindle (roving is notoriously difficult to dye because the slightest problems with water temperature and even just a little bit of agitation will felt it almost immediately), and the spindle was not well balanced. So in 2014 I decided to try spinning with a wheel, which is when I purchased my Kromski Prelude.


The smallest of the Kromskis, the Prelude is a Saxony-style wheel, but it is more compact than other Kromski wheels. It's style and smaller stature makes the Prelude portable (but you still have to be extremely careful if you do transport it) and a favorite for historical re-enactments. It's also a single treadle (one pedal) and has a built-in lazy kate for plying.


The Prelude I purchased came shipped to me in unfinished parts, so I was able to get to know my wheel intimately. I had to soak the leather portions of the mother-of-all in oil so that they were sufficiently pliable. I stained and varnished every part of the wheel, and then, when those parts had finally dried, I assembled it by myself. I even learned how to adjust the drive band, break line, and to tie the footman on so that the wheel functioned smoothly. And then, I learned how to spin via some great YouTube videos.


It takes practice to become proficient at spinning and a good bit of letting go. If you're starting with a wheel, the best advice I received was to practice treadling without any yarn first because training your foot to pedal rhythmically is vital to being able to spin this way. Only then did I then add a very long leader yarn and practiced holding that as it wrapped around the bobbin while I learned to adjust the tension on the wheel.


Then, once I started spinning my own yarn, I had to let go of the idea that handspun is going to be uniform and consistent. Now, some expert spinners may have been able to achieve as close to a consistent thread diameter as one can by hand, but the average spinner who spins for fun will have a bit of thick and thin in their spun yarn, which is the nature of hand spinning. And that's part of the beauty of hand spun yarn--that it doesn't look like it was milled by a machine because it wasn't; it was made by a human.


It was only when I opened the shop did I finally learn how to use a drop spindle effectively. A friend suggested to me that I try a Greensleeves Bare Bones drop spindle because it's heft and balance makes it a great instructional spindle for beginners. And, to be honest, using a better spindle (which still didn't cost all that much) I discovered how soothing spinning with a drop spindle could be.


But, I did get away from spinning, to be honest. It wasn't that I didn't love it, but I just didn't think about pulling out the wheel or picking up the spindle and sitting down to spin. I had plenty of roving (still have plenty of roving, actually). But, instead, I got wrapped up in knitting or crocheting, reading, or just vegging on the couch. And I didn't really think about it much until, as I told you a few weeks ago, I found that I wasn't motivated to do much of anything but spinning called to me and was something I found I wanted to do.


What I love about spinning is that there doesn't have to be an end goal. I'm not spinning yarn to sell or for competition (although people who have participated in sheep to shawl competitions at festivals, different spinning contests, and Tour de Fleece have reported having a great time). I'm just spinning for me. I'm not a fast spinner, so working my way through an entire braid can take up a good bit of time. And, when I finish a braid, I'm not necessarily finished. I can decide to ply it with another single ply if I want, or ply it with itself. Or, I can set the twist and then determine if I want to use it for project or give it to one of my yarn loving friends. There are tons of possibilities.


And, in rediscovering what I love about spinning, I'm reminded of how Juli and I had talked about our goal of adding more spinning into our lives. Some of that may fall into the new year resolution category if you want to think of it that way (although many of you know how much I despise the tradition of new year resolutions). Our goal, however, was to make a concerted effort to add more spinning into our weekly (if not daily lives), and that's when I decided to set a September Spinning Challenge.


See, spinning takes practice. It isn't a one-and-done sort of thing, and it can take awhile to create yarn that's even halfway usable. So, I'm issuing a one-month challenge to encourage those of us who have been spinning for awhile or those of us who want to spin more or even those who want to learn how to spin, to spin a little bit every single day for thirty days.


The goal isn't to produce a particular amount of spun yarn at the end of September. Rather, the goal is to simply challenge ourselves to spin just a little--five minutes, ten minutes, maybe longer--every day for one month. And in spinning just a couple of minutes a day, you'll give yourself a little fiber meditation and gradually enhance your spinning skills.


You can use a drop spindle, a Turkish drop spindle, a spinning wheel--whatever tool you like to use to spin--so long as you spin just a little every day and remember to post either a photo or small video and tag the shop while using the hashtag: #habetrotswheelsepspinningchallenge to keep everyone honest.


You can post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or TikTok. And, for those who participate, you'll be put into a drawing at the end of the month for a bag of lovely alpaca blend roving.


And, if you're looking for some lovely drop spindles, the shop did just receive a shipment of Katrinkles Turkish Drop Spindle sets, Greensleeves Bare Bones spindles, and Greensleeves Miss Marple's Teacup spindles. We also have some beautiful rolags and roving braids in stock, as well.

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