Learn How To Spin With A Drop Spindle

 I had learned how to spin on a spinning wheel, but not a drop spindle.  My daughter had figured out how to spin with a drop spindle, and my neighbor, and I’ve been to fiber festivals and seen kids walking around spindling.  It looked hard. Finally, when a group of gals wanted me to teach a drop spindling class, it was time for me to learn.  It takes some practice, and it takes some time.  Here are some resources that will help you on your journey into drop spindling.  It really is quite relaxing, therapeutic even, once you’ve learned.

Top Whorl Drop Spindle

First you will need a spindle.  The top whorl spindles pictured above are made by Amelia Garripoli of Ask The Bellwether, and her family.  They are well weighted, general purpose spindles.  Which Spindle Spins The Best is a very detailed article by Amelia in which she compares the different kinds of spindles.  There are various different kinds of spindles, some very beautiful made from exotic hardwoods, others painted with fun designs.  A spindle can also be as simple as a dowel rod, a CD, and a hook.  See How to Make a Drop Spindle to make your own.

There are three parts of a drop spindle, the shaft, the whorl, and the hook at the top of the shaft.  The shaft is basically what the drop spindle revolves around and it holds the yarn after twist has been applied to the fiber. The whorl acts as a weight to help the drop spindle continue to spin.  The hook, or sometimes a notch, in the shaft holds the yarn while the drop spindle is spinning.

Productive Spindling

Amelia has also written a book called Productive Spindling, which is a terrific resource for drop spindling.

alpaca roving

Next you will need some roving.  Some say you need to use wool when you are learning.  I learned with alpaca, so soft and nice to work with.  Might as well enjoy the fiber you’re spinning!  There is some Spinning Fiber Terminology that you might want to familiarize yourself with.  Drafting is a spinning term meaning to pull apart fibers to the thickness desired before introducing twist to create yarn.  Pre-drafting or splitting the roving is helpful, and makes the business of spinning go quicker.  3 Simple Steps to Preparing Fiber for Spinning explains and pictures how to prepare fiber for spinning.

Spinning with a drop spindle involves these easy steps:

Spin

Park

Pinch

Draft

Release

Wind On

 

 Drop Spindle Spinning: The Ultimate Guide to Drop Spindles from Interweave is a great article with more detailed instructions.

Alpaca Drop Spindle Kit

Our Drop Spindle Kit includes a top whorl drop spindle, six ounces of alpaca roving in three different colors, and illustrated instructions, a very nice beginner’s kit.

Spindling: Making Yarn From Fluff...to Stuff

Craftsy offers an online class called Spindling: Making Yarn From Fluff to Stuff   Taught by seasoned spindler Drucilla Pettibone, she will walk you through the yarn-making process, from carding natural fibers to creating stunning yarns in a variety of textures all on a portable drop spindle.  Drop spindling does take practice,  and learning anything new can be frustrating at the onset, but worth it once you master the skill.  Check out  Craftsy’s blog post on Tips and Troubleshooting for Drop Spindles .

One of the first things I wanted to learn after purchasing alpacas was how to spin.  Though a drop spindle is far less of an investment than a spinning wheel, I just knew I would like spinning, so I took the plunge and went straight to a spinning wheel.  It can be done.  Drop spindling is not a prerequisite to spinning on a wheel, though they are nice to travel with.  The essence of spinning is to twist the fiber so that it holds together in the form of yarn, whether it’s with a spindle or on a wheel.

Picnic in the Pasture

 

The group of gals that wanted to learn how to drop spin asked if they could bring a picnic.  They sat in the alpaca pasture and had a ball.  Be sure to check out Picnic in Alpaca Pasture is Highlight of Farm Tour.  I do teach a Drop Spindle Class here at the farm.  Click on the link to see when it might be scheduled.  You might also want to check out other Craftsy Online Spinning Classes.

How to Use Hand Cards

How To Use Hand Cards

The purpose of Hand Carding is to disentangle, separate, clean, straighten and blend fibers together for spinning into yarn.  Carding is a type of woolen preparation, where air is introduced between the fibers and can be trapped as you spin, resulting in a loftier yarn. The tools used are called Hand Cards.  Hand carders look a bit like hair brushes, and consist of two wooden paddles with sheets of fine metal teeth that brush out the fibers. Carding opens up locks of fiber and then aligns the individual fibers to be parallel with each other. Carded fibers are generally shorter, with longer and shorter fibers mixed together, and not completely smooth and even.  The result is a batt or rolag of lofty fiber that can them more easily be spun into yarn.

All-hand-cards-together

The Hand Cards available in our Online Store are made in the USA, by Strauch Fiber Equipment.  Watch the video below to see how to use them.

You may want to check out a great article on how to properly and efficiently use hand cards called “Care & Feeding of Handcards”  from the Earth Guild in Asheville, NC.

How To Prepare Wool For Spinning

For a great class on fiber preparation, check out  How To Prepare Wool For Spinning.  It is a Craftsy online class that you can watch at your convenience, and go back to when ever you want.  See more Spinning Classes here.

Learn How to Spin With a Drop Spindle

How To Use A Ball Winder and Swift

Anyone that plays with yarn will be interested in two great tools, a Swift and a Ball Winder.

Swift                  Ball Winder

Otto and Joanne Strauch, owners of Strauch Fiber Equipment and makers of fine tools for spinners, demonstrate how to make a center-pull ball using these two must-have tools.

Sit-n-Knit or Crochet or Spin

For those of you that live in our area, you are invited to come visit and just …

Just Sit-n-Knit or Crochet or Spin

Just Sit-n-Knit or Crochet or Spin

Come hang out with fiber friends!  Drop in the first Saturday of the month for a few relaxing hours of knitting or crocheting or spinning on the farm. Lessons are not provided, but beginners are always welcome. If you bring your needles and yarn, drop spindle or wheel, someone will usually be able to answer your questions and offer a helping hand.

As I was reflecting on the importance of spending time with friends and doing things we enjoy, I ran across a blog called The Happy Migrant.  She writes:

10 Reasons why making new friends is important

1. Laughter – Laughter really is medicine and time spent with friends will often result in laughter.

2. Inspiration – Spending the day with friends is inspirational. Your friends will always have inspiring words for you.

3. Support – Your friends are your biggest support. Your friends support you in your decisions, through the tough times and through the exciting times.

4. Guidance – Your friends are like your guardian angels, offering you guidance when you need it the most.

5. Fun – Spending time with friends is fun. In today’s world we can take life a bit too seriously so some fun time is a requirement to breaking the serious pattern.

6. Relaxation – Spending times with friends can be relaxing. Even if you are walking around all day shopping, there is still an element of relaxation when you are with good friends.

7. Encouragement – Friends give you encouragement to follow your dreams because they believe in you.

8. Courage – Friends give you courage to be who you really are.

9. Strength – Your friends can give you a feeling of inner strength that you never knew you had.

10. Love – When you spend time with good friends, you feel loved and so do they.

Good friends are valuable. We need to look after our friends, nurture them, listen to them and be there when they need us. If you look back at the best and worst times of your life your friends were there.

Make some time to get out and meet some new friends
it is such an important part of life.

Plying With Beads

  Although stringing the beads was a bit challenging, and manipulating my single fiber strand without getting it tangled in the strung beads during the playing process could have made me crazy, I was very pleased with the end results!

 These are the hand-dyed Suri Locks that I started with. 

 I spun carelessly from uncarded locks not worrying about any kind of uniformity.  I felt like a kid going out to recess, playtime!

 Once I got a rhythm going and coordinated pushing a bead forward when  I was ready for one, the plying flowed smoothly.

Louet Spinning Wheels

I used my Louet Spinning Wheel, versus my little electric spinner, because I needed to stop and start frequently.  My Louet gave me the control I needed without having to turn it off and on.

 I named it, as I do all my yarns, “Pretty As A Princess”.

Stefanie Berganini has written some good instructions on spinning this kind of artyarn- click Plying With Beads

on the Spin-Off Magazine website.

This looks like a book I ought to have!

My New Yarn

So, here is where it all starts, with happy, healthy alpacas!
Stress does affect fiber quality – see the smiles on these two? Meet Unlimited Joy and Ariella!  There are two different breeds of alpacas, suri and huacaya, and the difference is their fleece.  A suri’s fleece grows vertically to the ground, in dreadlocks, and will grow clear to the ground if not shorn.  A huacaya has more of a teddy bear look and their fleece grows horizontal away from their bodies.  I think of a suri as being majestic and a huacaya as cute!
Huacaya Fleece
Suri Fleece
In the Dye Pot with Gaywool Dye
Carded
Carding is the process of combing and blending fibers together – an art form in itself.  This is a blend of hand dyed suri and natural brown huacaya.
Rovings Wound Into A Ball for Spinning
Hand Spun Into A Single Ply Yarn
Finished Two-Ply Yarn – Food For The Soul!

How To Spin From A Batt

Say, you’ve bought a carder and you are carding your own fiber. You doff it off the drum and now you have a large mass. Now what?  This mass you just created would be called a batt, but how does one spin it? I found this Photo Tutorial on Flickr that might be helpful. There are other ways but this is a good beginning.

How To Spin From A Batt, originally uploaded by afranquemont.

For the detailed info, you’ll want to go through the set, How To Spin From A Batt, in sequence. There are notes on the photos, and descriptive text.

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