At long last, I’m spinning! It’s one of those things that I’ve wanted to learn to do for a number of years that got put on the back burner. Several years ago, I bought a “working” spinning wheel on eBay. Thankfully, it was not very expensive and I had good intentions of restoring it to its former glory being that it was in rather sad condition. It had been in storage for a number of years and I dug it out one evening determined to getting it up and working. After further research and watching a number of YouTube videos; it became apparent that the only “working” part of this particular machine was the main wheel which went around. It was never designed to actually spin yarn as the tension knob was glued in and the flyer constructed in such a way that it could never be free turning or operational. So, do check thoroughly prior to buying any used wheel and don’t get “fleeced”.
This time around; I decided to ask for some recommendations online (always a dangerous thing). While I expected to receive a full range of answers; I wasn’t quite prepared for the the first response. Somebody must have rolled out of bed on the wrong side of the Internet. Of course trying anything is the best way to go provided that is available. Unfortunately, there is no local spinning wheel dealer and the only spinning group mentioned is an hour south in an area that I would never consider going to visit, plus I’m still not 100% back to normal after the knee replacement. So, I’m left to my own devices and online resources.
Some kind person sent me this article http://abbysyarns.com/2008/12/choosing-your-first-spinning-wheel which was useful. As with anything, looks is a factor and price is a factor. Will this be used regularly or only occastionally?
Finally, I decided to go with the Kromski Fantasia as I liked the upright design, double treadle (good exercise for the knee) and the size/weight (12.5 pounds). It is a very portable and modern looking machine. Yes, I just like how it looks. When not in use, it’s a piece of furniture so looks are a consideration. The flyer aligns with strong earth magnets (the same thing that I use in my reborn dolls). Also, the accent bar in the middle of the wheel not only looks snazzy but has a counter balance, making it easier to start/stop the wheel. It can actually be controlled solely via the treadles (without hand turning the wheel to start) if one is talented enough. I’m used to a one treadle sewing machine and am still getting the hang of working two treadles. My wheel came from Crystal Creek Fibers on eBay as the shipping was free and the seller included your choice of $50 worth of free fiber in the deal. Everything went smoothly, my fibers were here in 2 days and the wheel arrived from the main distributor in 4 days. Totally EXCELLENT service!!
I was super excited to get started! The Fantasia is a kit wheel (has to be assembled) and I had also purchased the unfinished one. So, after a clear coat of spray on polyurethane and the recommended drying time; the wheel was ready to assemble. The directions were good and assembly was easy. I was a little nervous about opening those footmen to fit over the bushings as they look so delicate, but all went well. There are assembly videos for this wheel here:
Next, to try out the wheel. I had a few issues with the tension. It could have been me or it could be the wheel. Again, to an online search as it was over the weekend and Customer Service was closed. I found this blog~http://inconsequentialblogger.blogspot.com/2010/10/kromski-fantasia-spinning-wheel-review.html which addressed the tension issue. The main problem with my wheel was the the bobbin was spinning at the same speed as the flyer, so it would not wind yarn. After a trip to the hardware store for a new spring, restringing the tension, and inserting the tension key to takeup clockwise–I was in business! I’m still not sure if the tension issue was a quirk of me as a new spinner or a quirk of this wheel design. It’s quite possibly the former.
Now, onto the actual spinning. I learned solely online from YouTube videos. These are my personal favorites:
In my limited time here of spinning; I tried spinning a batt, roving and locks and prefer using the batt. (Does that make me batty? Not an old bat though! LOL)
Neauvea Fiber Arts has any number of free videos along with ones for purchase and fibers at the Neauvea Fiber Art Website. I like to support people who generously share their knowledge with the public and want to publicly say Thank YOU!! These videos are what got me up and spinning. I’m a pink fanatic (not usually in range of Fall colors) and somebody snapped up all of that Mulberry Silk Top in Candy before I got there–but I WILL be checking back for pink silk fibers.
Here’s what I’ve spun over the past week. Keep in mind that I am a self-taught beginner and I actually wanted the Thick/Thin Art Type of yarn. Some of these are not yet finished and will be plyed. But without further ado~
My very first yarn. It is made from some type of wool batt and was sent to me many years ago from Australia in a doll swap. I had it stored in my cedar chest. It spun nicely but is scratchy! I spun cranberry red and hulk green mohair curls into the yarn. I’m going to ply gold jingle bells on it. I’m not sure yet what I’ll be making with it but something for Christmas and far away from my skin. Wool and I aren’t the greatest mix.
Here’s some of the same wool but left plain.
And here’s more of the same with gold, cranberry, burnt orange and dark green mohair curls. I call this color/pattern “Gummi Bears”. The word “colorway” still seems WAY too pretentious to me even after researching the origins of the word yesterday. Why not be succinct?
I had such a great time spinning this and it is WONDERFUL, soft and luscious! The fiber came from our silver standard poodle “Jillian” (Amidair Making The Cut At Versailles & Now at Angelsun). I’ve seen some people cringe at the thought of wearing dog hair. Consider for a moment where the sheep or goat has been or done in the barnyard. Mmmmmmmmmmmm hummmmmmmmmm. Dog hair sounds much better now–doesn’t it? LOL Many times it is listed as “Chiengora” which rather reminds me of skunk fur being called “Fitch”. Most are afraid to show their ignorance when buying a fur coat and won’t ask about “Fitch”. A rose by any other name I suppose, but I’m calling mine Poodle Hair Yarn. I need to collect more hair but will be adding to this yarn and eventually making something special from it. This is 100% poodle hair~brushings from Miss Jillian. It’s going to eventually be plyed with oval freshwater pearls in silver.
Here’s mohair and angora bunny spun from a batt that I purchased on Etsy from Puff the Magic Rabbit. It is wonderful, spun easily and is soft. I’m going to ply it with pink, round freshwater pearls.
I spun this last evening from a Mulberry Silk Batt that came from Crystal Creek Fibers on eBay. Oh, I am in LOVE! No itchy fibers, easy to spin and smooth as–well, smooth as silk! It is a totally AMAZING fiber! If I had it to do over; I would have gone for a slightly more uniform yarn but am pleased enough with this.
Here is me modeling a mitt that I crocheted from my homespun silk yarn. The pattern is by Theresa Grant of UnravelMe. I made the Fingerless Mitts (crocheted cuff) version of the Little Lacey Mitts with the thumb hole in it. The pattern also includes a Wrist Warmer. I had to go up to a size H hook and shorten the cuff by two stitches. (My hands are BIG and the handspun yarn was bulkier than the suggested yarn.)
What is next? More spinning of course and more designing too! I am still churning out crochet patterns–15 fully completed since I started in July 2011 (Freebies at my secure website and those for purchase through Ravelry here on the blog, Ravelry directly and my shop at Etsy. I have some bamboo on order that I want to try spinning and will report back on that. For now, all that I want to spin is poodle hair and silk! And the afghan hound had better guard her locks! But her brushings are MINE! Miss Muff may join the ranks of the Disapproving Rabbits, but she still knows where her hair will end up . . .