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Spin Class — No Sweat!

Oh, how I love good yarn!  I crave it.  I need it.  It speaks to my inner pioneer and that’s a very dangerous thing.  The only trouble with yarn (and particularly good yarn) is that it is not in my budget.  Nope.  But there is hope in this financial buzz-kill: drop spindles, hand cards, lukewarm soapy water, and raw wool.

Unwashed, unpicked raw wool

Some of you have already packed your bags for better blogs.  Come back!  I haven’t completely parted from suburbia… do you see any sheep in my yard?  Not yet, anyway.  **cackling loudly and slapping knee repeatedly**  Here’s the washed and picked wool now.  See?  That wasn’t so bad!

When I randomly come across some raw wool, I get to hand pick the burs and briers out myself.  I am a wool picker that is wanting to adopt nose-pickers.  LOL!  Then I get to hand card it — the wool.  I will probably do a post on the entire process for you at some point but not until I’ve finished canning pears.  First things first.  Back to hand carding.  Goodness it that ever fun at first.  At the very first… like in the first ten minutes… until I realize that I still have a mountain of wool to go and I’m not even finished.

Hand carders are cheap enough to make.  I found mine in the form of wire dog brushes and then just added wooden handles (the dog brushes had a broken hand strap and were a Dollar Store find).  They work just fine.  Fiber artists the world over just cringed at my cheapy hand carders.  I take comfort in that knowledge as I sandwich the washed and picked wool in between the combs and begin pulling the fiber through over and over again.

That hand carding left me with something that spinners and fiber artists call “rolags” a roll/rag hybrid.  Actually, I have no idea how they got that name but they are pictured above for your viewing pleasure.  Mine are imperfect but since I have no fiber professionals to consult — we’re going to call them words like: breathtaking, outstanding, incredible, and genius.  Well, I will anyway.  Just try and stop me.

In order to make my drop spindle, I used a wooden toy wheel from Hobby Lobby and a sharpened rod pushed through the center.  Because I ended up with a nice long dowel rod (READ: double pointed bamboo knitting needle that I found under the couch and cannot for the life of me find the mate to), I could also use mine as a supportive spindle — thus I could spin with it sitting beside me in the couch while I pretend to watch television with Josh.

To get started, I wrap commercial yarn around the base and tie onto my raw wool leader which is a strip of twisted wool.  I then (holding a rolag in my left hand) begin twisting the wool on the rod with the wheel and sharp point on the couch cushion to my right side.  After a few wobbly tries, I produced a lumpy and uneven yarn of which I was incredibly proud.  After a few tries, I discovered that I wasn’t half bad at spinning and felt very close to my pioneering brethren.  Again… a dangerous thing.  Why?  Because when I start to picture myself on a covered wagon on the Oregon Trail — I forget all about the cholera, mountain fever, pneumonia, diphtheria, typhoid, and weeks of staring at the backside of an oxen team.  My brain is sent straight to campfires under starlit skies, views uninterrupted by housing and power lines, and the joys of settling a homestead with my husband.  **sigh**

Now ask me if I’ve finished those socks I started.  (No, actually, please don’t!)

Anyway, to use my little supportive spindle into a drop spindle, I simply need to have my darling husband install a hook at the end.  Since I am doing just fine with my little supportive needle and don’t want to transition to anything else, I found a video to show you the whole drop spindle thing.  The lady is a real pro.  Not like me.  Even though my rolags are stunning, spectacular, and amazing.

Drop spindle

Goodness, I hope that you are as fascinated by spinning as I am.  Otherwise, I may have just bored you to bits.  My question?  How long do you think it will be before Josh and I get alpacas now that I’m obsessed with spinning?

  • gingela5 - I’m afraid this stuff is totally over my head! haha But if you do get alpaca’s I want to see pictures!ReplyCancel

  • Kath - Soon very soon you will be getting alpacas!!!!

    When we attended the WY state fair this summer I just had to check out the wool shed. It was quite interesting. What I learned ,and maybe should have known, is that the wool has an oil on it.ReplyCancel

  • chocolatechic - I have spun before. It is very therapeutic.ReplyCancel

  • Meadowlark - Oooooh. I would LOVE to do this!!! Beautiful, just beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • Barb - Lacy, I used to want to do this…never had the opportunity or the teacher (and Internet was not invented yet!)…Just when I found someone, and I watched her for hours..we were moving away…again.ReplyCancel

  • CrossView - Ooh! I’m all about YOU getting alpacas! LOL!

    And I’d love a sweater, if you’re bored and looking for a project! =P

    I saw something similar on Dirty Jobs and I’m too chicken… Mike Rowe would never lie to me!ReplyCancel

  • Momisodes - That has to be the coolest thing I’ve seen all week! I can totally see you mastering this. Me, on there hand? Yea, I’d the one she’s talking about when referring to letting it drop to the floor.ReplyCancel

  • Robin - Mmmmmm, soft perdy wool. :mrgreen:

    How are you doing? 🙂 I hope you’ve been doing well. Hugs, RobinReplyCancel

  • Holly the Knitter - Lacey P. has been bringing her drop spindle to Panera on Mondays. She’s been showing off all the fancy smancy yarn she’s spun. You can bring your drop spindle and y’all will be the “Spinning Lac(e)y’s”.ReplyCancel

  • marky - You never cease to amaze me!
    I have watched the contest at our farm show.. something along the title of sheep to shaw..
    they take it straight from the sheep, and the final product is someone knitting the shaw..
    pretty cool to watch.ReplyCancel

  • Dawn - Spinnie Lacy, I like it. Oh, Holly the Knitter said spinning Lacy! Okay, I like that too;-). I remember my Baba having a big round wool carding wheel and the carding brushes. I remember playing with it and also watching her. She did some spinning on a big wheel too, but she made wool quilts out of the carded wool from their sheep. I have a baby quilt (patchwork) she made when I was a baby. I also have a pillow she made from feathers from their own chickens and geese she made for my 8th birthday. I had to put it in a pillowcase and sew it up because the casing became threadbare, but I can still see the original through the case I put on. An I know pillows are not to be kept for 35+ years, but it has sentimental value.

    I admire your crafting adventures and love hearing about them. One day I would like to venture into some different skill areas. Keep up the great work and the ever so amusing/entertaining and educational posts.ReplyCancel

  • tipper - Very neat-I think you need some sheep!ReplyCancel

  • Judy - You should see the vintage, wool, imported, baby-weight yarn I found in a bag of yarn my sister gave me. It’s yummy. Bein’s as you’re in the south (cotton country), check this out:

    http://gossamerstrandsfiber.blogspot.com/2006/05/charkha-or-charka-spinning-wheel.html

    Hugs,
    JudyReplyCancel

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