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Adventures in Spinning

A while ago Bear surprised me with my very own spinning wheel and loom. I was thrilled! Spinning and weaving is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl. I remember being enamored by pictures in my fairy tale books of women in lovely old cottages in the woods churning out skeins of yarn and beautifully woven blankets. I was thrilled, yes, but also bamboozled. I had no idea what to do with either wheel or loom.

Last week I got to spend a day with my new medieval friend, Mim, who volunteered to teach me how to spin wool on my dear but unused spinning wheel. She is a highly skilled spinner and weaver who has mastered drop spindles, spinning wheels, and looms, creating stunning works of art based on medieval patterns and techniques. She comes by it naturally for her grandfather made spinning wheels and her grandmother taught her how to use them.

I, on the other hand, have not mastered anything related to spinning, and have no experience turning wool into yarn. Although I come from a long line of fabulous knitters – mother, aunts, and grandmothers – the only knitting I’ve mastered is finger-knitting. If you ever need endless lengths of finger-knitted cord, I’m your gal.

Thankfully Mim is a patient teacher, and soon helped me navigate the unique vocabulary of spinning and knitting. Before long she had me carding wool for the first time, using firm rocking motions to transform twisted lumps of tangled wool into smooth, knot-free batts of wool ready for the spinning wheel.

Mim showed me how to take apart the wheel for cleaning, where to rub with lanolin to keep things running smoothly, and how to adjust the tension.

Then she showed me how to spin. It looked so easy when she did it. Fingers expertly stretching the wool so it fed in evenly as her foot pumped rhythmically, keeping the wheel going at a steady clip.

Then it was my turn. Within seconds the wool I was holding was a mangled bunch of fibers, the spinning wheel was running backwards, and my “thread” was a lumpy, bumpy mess. Clearly I am not a natural.

But that’s OK. Mim assured me that I will get better with practice, and that it’s perfectly normal to thoroughly muss everything up the first time around. Bless her for that.

I’m going to keep trying, and try again until I learn how to coordinate everything, figure out the feel and give of the wool, and remember to keep the peddle going so it doesn’t suddenly lurch into reverse. I’ll get there.

batt of raw wool

And if I keep messing up for a good while, that’s alright too. There’s always the Russian bakery near Mim’s where I can drown my spinning sorrows.

Have you ever spun wool before?

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Hotly Spiced - I’ve never spun wool but my mother had a friend with a spinning wheel and I was always fascinated by the process. She used to buy the wool and then spin it and then knit beautiful jumpers. I used to be quite good at knitting but sadly I’ve lost that skill. I really enjoy knitting as I find it rewarding and relaxing xx

Anna Johnston - Oh my goodness Krista, this post took me back to my childhood. I grew up in country NSW, Mom was really into sewing and knitting and spinning, we even had an angora goat at one point so mom had wool. LOL! Not sure it is something I will ever do again, but I loved that my childhood was filled with creative memories like you are making now.

budgetjan - Not me. Will you be able to spin your goats hair or would you only be able to do that if they were Angora Goats?

Tracy A - How wonderful! While I knit up a storm, I’ve never ventured into spinning, though many of my friends have. Good for you!

mlleparadis - never spun wool, but i’ve eaten plenty of cake!!!!!!! looks like fun AND your pics make it look like a fairy story. have fun!


thefisherlady - I think I must drown my sorrows with you as well at the bakery… I also have put my hand joyously though not so skillfully to spinning and carding… I was using my angora fleece which is so slippery so gosh did I work long and hard ! Love it though.

Nagi | RecipeTin Eats - No! Spinning? Your life is so exotic Krista!!

Cathy - How fascinating Krista. I hope you are enjoying learning this new skill. I have a feeling that my brother-in-law’s girlfriend is capable of spinning wool. She loves crafty pursuits too 🙂

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