A few people have messaged me asking how you go about learning to spin, where you go and what I would recommend so I thought a blog post was in order.
I must admit that it has been a slow process for me as I was given my beautiful Schacht Sidekick spinning wheel a couple of years ago now. I tried a few times on my own and wondered why I was finding it hard. When I went to a lesson at Petlins in Rhodes they helped me realise that my new wheel needed some oil to get a real rhythm going on the pedals.
I filled a bobbin back at home not long after that but then after leaving it for a while I couldn’t get it going again. After shearing our Alpacas in September last year I am constantly reminded that I have two large bags of Alpaca wool in the garage waiting for me to do something with it.
Finally after speaking to some spinners at a show I realised that the best way for me to learn was to find a local Spinners and Weavers Guild and learn from other experienced spinners there as Petlins was too far away from me and it was a bit cold and uncomfortable there too. I found a lovely local group with the sweetest ladies in it who are most helpful and encouraging. You can go to a couple of free trial meetings and then after the third you need to become a member and pay a reasonable fee considering all the facilities and equipment available. They have wool, carding machines, ball winders and everything to do with spinning that you may need and you can use them during the meetings or borrow them to take home as well. Fantastic when you know you can’t afford (or need) your own drum carder machine for $600 odd dollars (a drum carder is a set of cylinders that are covered in little wire pins that disentangle and organises the fibre you roll through the machine into parallel slivers or batts of fibre ready for spinning). You can also use hand carders (which are like two flat wire dog brushes!) but if you have a lot of fibre to prepare a drum carder will save many hours.
I have learnt now after being told several times that your posture and seating are very important whilst you are spinning. You have to be comfortable while you spin and be sitting on a seat with a height that is right for you to pedal easily so it’s a good idea to experiment with a few different chairs until you find the right one.
This is the first spool of spun wool I’ve ever made. It’s actually two different spools of wool that I then plied together into their own ball. Less than perfect but you have to start somewhere.
I’ve still got so much to learn and lots of practice is needed but I’m so happy I’ve found this lovely group. Watching them spin and chatting to them is so valuable to me in my journey of learning. It was also recommended that I watch some Spinning DVD’s in my “spare time”.
Having my two year old home with me full time means that he comes with me and sometimes he’s fine sitting next to me on the picnic rug playing toys and snacking and other times (like my last meeting) he stands at the front door saying “I go home now”. Slow and steady wins the race I hope as I can’t do too much or stay too long with him with me but I will get there.
Do you hope to learn to spin one day? Do you spin already? How did you learn?