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

Free Crochet Pattern – Squish Cowl

I love this pattern by Tamara Kelly that she calls her Squish Cowl.  She uses a special stitch called Split Bullion Stitch that involves yarning over six times which creates lots of gorgeous texture and squishiness!
Tamara’s pattern is FREE and can be found on her blog that she calls Moogly, by clicking here.

Squish Cowl - Snuggle Yarn

I chose our Snuggle Hand Dyed Yarn, which is a soft and lofty, bulky alpaca blend yarn, and used a 9.0 mm (M/N) crochet hook.  This color is called Knot of Naturals.  I love the effect that the shades of grey produce with this yarn and pattern.

Squish Cowl

SPECIAL STITCH

spbs: Split Bullion Stitch – Yo 6 times, insert hook in first indicated stitch, yo and pull up a loop, yo and pull through 4 loops (5 loops remain on hook), yo, insert hook in next indicated stitch, yo and pull up a loop, yo and pull through all 7 loops on hook.

 There is a video tutorial on Tamara’s blog for both right and left hand folks demonstrating how to do this fun stitch.

squish_cowl (2)

 The finished measurements of my cowl were 42″ circumference (21″ laid flat) x 8″ wide which took 172 yards of the Snuggle Yarn.  To customize the length, begin with a starting chain in a multiple of 2, plus 1.

squish_cowl_3

 

Tamara Kelly is a Craftsy instructor and offers an online class you might be interested in called Quick & Easy Crochet Cowls (w/Tamara Kelly).

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links.

 

Adult Coloring Books on LeisureArts.com

Learning to Knit – Getting Started

You have your yarn and your needles, a comfortable chair, you’re relaxed, and you’re ready to get started knitting.  There are different ways to hold your knitting needles.  Some people hold their hands over the knitting needles like a table knife and some hold them like pencils.  See How to Hold Your Knitting Needles and Yarn for pictures of the different ways.  Try both and see what is most comfortable.  There is no right or wrong way.

Casting On

Casting on is the first step in knitting and is the process of getting stitches on the needle.  There are a number of different Cast On Methods. The Loop Cast On is an easy one for beginners.  It is quick and easy, but can be difficult to keep an even tension when knitting, so exploring other methods may be in order down the road. The Knitted Cast On is an easy method and you will learn the knit stitch at the same time.  It is fairly stretchy and a good choice for many sorts of projects.  KnitPicks has a good video and tutorial on this method.

Knit Stitch

There is more than one way to learn the Knit Stitch. The two most common ways to knit are the English knitting method and the Continental knitting method.  Try both and see what you like best.  You may feel awkward at first.  Like everything else, learning to knit takes some practice and patience, and so does learning to hold your knitting needles and yarn.  Just start knitting – you’ll get it.

Knitting is a 4-step process:

Insert the needle

Wrap the yarn

Pull through the loop

Pull off the new stitch

You will knit all the stitches on your needle and when you have finished, you will have knit your first row.  If counting rows, your first row including the cast-on counts as row one.

When you have finished the row, you will turn your work. Exchange the needle full of stitches in your right hand for the empty needle in your left hand, and start again.  Knitting every row creates fabric with a series of ridges, each ridge being created from two rows of knit stitches.  This is called the knit stitch or garter stitch.

Purl Stitch

The Purl Stitch is next, click below to watch the video or see the tutorial.

 

The process of alternating knit and purl rows creates the stockinette stitch. When you are knitting stockinette, the side that is smooth is considered to be the right side (abbreviated ‘RS’). The purl side with the bumps and ridges is considered to be the wrong side (abbreviated ‘WS’)

Sometimes projects will require multiple skeins of yarn, which will require joining a new skein of yarn.  If possible do this at the end of the row.

Casting Off

Your knitting project is finished, congratulations!   Now you need to get your knitting off the needles.  Some refer to this process as casting off, some call is binding off.  Click below to watch the Binding Off video, or see the tutorial.

Be sure to bind off loosely or the pattern will be “gathered” at that bound edge.  If you find the edge is too tight when binding off, use a larger needle to bind off.  Also, be sure to form the stitch on the straight part of the needle, not the tip.

Finishing

Next, you will want to weave in the ends and block your scarf.  Blocking is an integral part of finishing a knitted item.  It will even out your stitches and allow your fiber to bloom!  Be sure to read How to Block: Knitting Techniques on the Interweave website.

 

Other good knitting resources:

Learning to Knit – What You’ll Need

Top 10 Yarn Questions

How to Read a Knitting Pattern

Knitting Stitches You Need to Know

Find Your Style: Battle of English vs Continental Knitting

You might also want to check out 10 Easy Scarf Knitting Patterns for Beginners.

Happy knitting!

Here are some Online Knitting Classes you might enjoy:

Learn Essential Beginner Knitting Skills ins New Class | Craftsy

Learn to knit a scarf ins My First Scarf class | Craftsy Learn how to knit a hat ins My First Hat | Craftsy

Crafty’s Big Back to School Supplies and Classes Sale

This post contains affiliate links through which I might earn a small commission on purchases.  Funds earned will be used to help fund my mission trip to Guatemala.

Perfect timing, I just find out how to offer online classes, and there’s a sale offered!   Now thru 9/9/15, Craftsy is having a Big Back to School Sale offering all their classes, yarn (and yes they have alpaca yarn), and craft supplies at 50% off!

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What I love about Craftsy is once you purchase a class, you have lifetime access to that class and can go back and watch it over and over again.

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If you have questions, you can ask your instructors, and you can go at your own pace in the comfort of your own home.

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With Christmas ahead, right now is the perfect time to learn a new skill for making gifts!  Click Shop ClassesShop Yarn, or Shop Craft Supplies!

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Craftsy has over 800 online classes!  They offer topics like cooking, woodworking, photography, sewing, quilting, and more. They have some gardening classes that look interesting to me.  By all means, check it out!

Alpaca Meadows