Would like to learn how to spin

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First, I would like to tell you how much I enjoy this forum. I have learned so much. I was born and raised in the suburbs, but always longed for the country. Now, for the first time my husband and I are packing the kids up and moving to the country! Yea! I would like any advice on how to to spin wool, mohair, etc. Also if anyone has a spinning wheel they would like to sell, that works, but not too expensive (under $200.00). I would be interested in buying it. I would pay for S&H. Love In Christ, Diana

-- Diana Courter (courterd@aol.com), February 12, 2000


instead of a wheel, try a spinning spool, alot cheaper

-- stan (sopal@net-port.com), February 12, 2000.

Diana, I read on other forums that before purchasing a spinning wheel, that you go to a fibre fair or whatever they are called, and try several different brands of wheels. That will help you narrow your search for the correct wheel for you. Ebay nearly always has wheels advertised. There are quite a few spinners on the forum at http://angelfire.com/tn/gaelio/frame.html ALLY is very qualified to answer your questions.

-- greenbeanman (greenbeanman@ourtownusa.net), February 12, 2000.

Diana, spinning isn't hard to do, but it isn't easy either. You may be able to teach yourself. It just depends on how your mind works. I taught myself but acquired some bad habits that at the time I didn't realize were bad. There are a lot of spinners out there. When you get to your new home, start asking around. The obvious people to look for are people who raise fiber animals, groups of spinners/weavers/knitters/crocheters, and people involved with some sort of re-enactment or other historical events. The people you contact may not spin, but they'll know who does.

Be very careful when buying a wheel. Generally a new wheel will be well over $200. There is a new wheel out that can only be described as homely. It is made of PVC pipe. I have seen them, although I have not spun on them. I believe they work and that they are priced very very cheaply.

Old wheels can have terminal problems. Generally they are vastly over-priced since so many people want them for decoration. And they don't have to be anything approaching "antique", just more than a few years old. Bobbins are the biggest problem since most old wheels have at most one bobbin left with them. However, many spinners do just fine with just one bobbin. It adds to the hassle for a beginner though.

One horrid problem that I've seen more times than I like to remember is that because spinning wheels have been desirable as decorative objects for so long, a lot of people have made them. These folks either didn't know or didn't care about actually spinning with the wheels that they were building. These wheels have terminal problems. One maker who was working very recently and making nice looking wheels had overlooked the fact that the yarn needs to run from the fiber supply through an orfice and onto the bobbin. He didn't make the orfice. Expensive, pretty wheels that couldn't possibly spin, but I believe he was in fact selling them as working wheels.

Stan is correct, the cheapest way to start is with a drop spindle. You can make one easily or buy them quite cheaply. If you want directions on how to make one, let me know.

I believe the book Hands On Spinning by Lee Raven is available. It is a good book and used by many teachers and those teaching themselves. There is a good magazine called Spin-Off. You should at least buy yourself one copy of it, if not subscribe.

Getting started spinning can be done cheaply. I certainly started cheaply. I bought a drop spindle, was given a handful of wool, used an old pin dog brush and heavy toothed comb to "card" my wool and off I went.

I'd recomend that you try to buy a single drive treadle wheel rather than a double drive. Single drives generally are easier for beginners. If you fall in love with a great or walking wheel, it will be much harder to find anyone who can teach you. I've spun on a great wheel but wouldn't try teaching anyone without a lot more practice than I have time for. It is a very interesting and historical way to spin however. Gerbil

-- Gerbil (ima_gerbil@hotmail.com), February 12, 2000.

Welcome to the forum, Diana, and welcome to the wonderful world of spinning!! I wishd you lived a little closer to me so I could show you how. It's fun and relaxing, as anyone can tell you, and the results can be so satisfying. One word of advice (to add to the others), don't try to be too perfect. I spent almost 20 years trying to make my yarn look perfect, only to find that it ended up looking like it came from a store! Not the results I wanted after takin' so much time with it. So now I'm trying to get back to the way it looked when I started (well, almost back that far!) Keep it lookin' homespun! Forget about the slubs!!! :0) Good Luck, Patrice PS (I hate those drop spindles!! :0) )

-- Patrice Bertke (herbalgroup@hotmail.com), February 12, 2000.

I do spinning and I have an inexpensive wheel. It is an Ashford Traveler. I think it retails around $300 new. There are quality used ones for sale, but you must know what you are looking for. You may be surprised that there are many spinning guilds to be found. They usually demonstrate at county fairs, harvest fairs, street fairs, fiber fairs, anything like that in order to attract more interested persons. I bought my wheel new from a woman who handled the Ashford product and with my purchase, she taught me to spin. I also watched a video and read a few books. There is lots of information on the internet about spinning wheels. Do a search on any of the search engines and you will find manufacturers, guilds and other information.Some people say you should learn to use a drop spindle first then go on to a wheel. All of the members of my guild and myself say this is not necessarily so. I never have got the hang of a drop spindle, but I took to a wheel easily.

-- r. (thor610@yahoo.com), February 12, 2000.

I learned on a Louet and it was a very nice, simple to use wheel with no hooks to constantly adjust and it wasn't ever causing me trouble as some other wheels I have tried. I believe you order a kit and put it together. After using that one and then several other types I would still go for the Louet. It made spinning easy and you could concentrate on the work instead of always having to adjust something on the wheel.

-- Rebekah (daniel1@transport.com), February 12, 2000.

I have an Adhford Traditional, and really like it, and now am dreaming of a Jenson wheel...!!! I taught myself, on an old jerky Ashford, while waiting for my new one, and what a difference! (I think that the old one just needed "tuned up"--it belonged to the yarn store that I ordered the new wheel from).

Find an experienced spinner that you can trust--most are very nice people--and have them try the wheel that you are thinking about buying, before you put your money down. I would not reccommend the Ashford upright wheels (the ones that look old-fashioned,I can't think of the name) for the beginner; they are easy to tote around, but grab the wool too fast for a beginner to easily handle. I never did learn to do a spindle; however, my daughter has taught herself, and does a pretty credible job of it!

The Hands On Spinning book is a classic, and still available, very encouraging and with LOTS of pictures. That is the book that I learned from! I have wondered about the videos, if they would help "tweak" some of my skills.

I LOVE to spin, and once you learn, it is very relaxing. But expect to get frustrated and start throwing wool around and get grumpy at everyone, until you learn. Persevere. It is well worth the effort!

-- Leann Banta (thelionandlamb@hotmail.com), February 13, 2000.

Hi, Diana:

Let me join in the chorus advising you to start with a drop spindle. Not only is it an inexpensive way to "test the waters," but it lets you concentrate on getting your hands to do what they need to without worrying about treadling at the same time. (Think of the difference between learning to drive in a car with an automatic, vs. a manual transmission.)

You can order just about any kind of spindle you can think of over the Internet these days, or, if you want one right now and have a couple of old CD's lying around, you can make one. (Check out www.spinning.net/hints/equipment/cd.html for complete instructions.)

And as regards an inexpensive wheel -- the PVC wheel mentioned in an earlier message is called a "Babe's Fiber Starter." It's definitely not a decorator item, but it works very nicely and costs around $120, including shipping. You'll find them at www.smartgate.com/yarnspin, or you can order by phone at (262) 473-2009.

Be warned, though: messing with fiber is addictive. People who have thought me a perfectly normal member of society sometimes seem to rethink their opinion when they find out my front bedroom is home to three wheels, a large collection of drop spindles and other tools, two looms, bags full of fleece and bins full of yarn.

Happy spinning -- Christine

-- (cytrowbridge@zianet.com), February 13, 2000.

Howdy and welcome to the wonderful world of spinning! I thought I would just add my $.02 to all these great comments.

My first experience with attempting to learn to spin was to take lessons from a woman who ran a yarn shop and taught knitting, spinning, and crocheting classes. She might have been very successful at the needle arts part of it, but I couldn't learn beans from her! I was very frustrated! I thought it was me being hopelessly inept, but I now think it was the combination of teacher/student.

My second attempt, about a year later, was to take lessons from a master spinner (a level of achievement that the State Cooperative Extension Agencies award to individuals that meet their requirements) that I met at our local state fair. She was excellent! I paid $20 for each 2 hour lesson, and she showed me everything from skirting fleeces to washing, carding, etc. She started me on a drop spindle, and hand cards, and I washed my first fleece, etc. and made my first yarn with a drop spindle, including plying, etc. It took me a while but in 4 weeks, I was making halfway decent yarn!

After spinning on wheels, I persionally find drop spindles tedious, but you can make some really cool yarn on them, and I know really good spinners that carry them with them all the time because it makes spinning almost as portable as knitting. You can make really fat, textured yarns without worrying about the size of your orifice on a wheel, for example.

I have two wheels: An Ashford traditional and a beautiful old handmade one (slightly quirky but my favorite) that was made by an old Norwegian guy in Seattle about 40 years ago. I like the old wheel best but it's a lot more delicate to take places. I bought the Ashford for $35 from a private party (she was a weaver and thought she would like to spin...I have found that most weavers don't like to spin...kind of 2 different camps, but not always) so she was glad to get rid of it. I had to get a couple of small parts and a new drive band, etc. Maybe I spent $10 more. The other wheel was $400. You can find wheels and pricing all over the place.

Best advice is to learn enough to be able to try one out a bit before you buy, and to learn from the best people possible around you.

I have also found any of Mabel Ross' videos to be really helpful, esp. how to hold your hands for various draws.

Good luck to you and keep patient...it takes a little time, but it's like learning to ride a bicycle..once you get it, you really get it!!

p.s. For those of you that helped me with the ram castration question, I am still waiting for an answer from inquiries to my vet. I will let you know when I get this resolved!!

-- sheepish (rborgo@gte.net), February 13, 2000.

Find a spinning group and go to there meeting .They should be more than happy to help you learn,and try out dirrerent wheels .Its a big investment to make .Check with local yarn shops and your local cooperative extension office ,they should be able to help you .

-- Patty Gamble (fodfarms@slic.com), February 13, 2000.

DON'T buy a wheel without first trying it (or sight unseen.) As for learning, there are a lot of fiber arts guilds around. I have an Ashford double drive that I learned on and I like it. Ashford is in New Zealand and they will ship you a wheel in a box, unfinished, for a WHOLE lot less than set up in a shop. I put mine together and finished it and it's beautiful! There are lots of different models and styles- you'd probably need some help selecting the right one for you. Just go for it- it IS addictive though.

-- Peg Johnson (jnjohnsn@pressenter.com), February 13, 2000.

Diana, by now maybe with all this positive advice you are already on your way to being a spinner! You won't be sorry, or ever the same again! I agree that a drop spindle is a far less expensive way to start, and it teaches theory, and there are so many different kinds that I even know people who prefer them, but that's sure not me! Spinning on a smooth wheel is so relaxing, but you have to pay attention with a spindle, well, I have to! I'm glad someone gave the web site for the PVC wheel, (http://www.smartgate.com/yarnspin) it is called the Babe wheel. My original was / is an Ashford traditional, but I tried the Babe, and liked it so much I became one of the distributors. Not only are they so very inexpensive, they are extremely smooth! I take mine with me all the time, and at Barter Faires they get very dusty, but that light weight wheel can take a shower when it comes home! I keep several around, so that people who want to try it or just play, can without being any problem for my current project. The advice on trying several out is the best advice, because they are all a bit different in feel, and you need to determin what is best for you. But be forwarned: A friend in our guild told us (my husband is a spinner, too) that each spinner really needs three wheels minimum! We laughed, but once it became possible, we realized she was right! There is a project going, and you come across this other new fiber that you just have to try out, and then you need an available wheel for plying... and maybe a bulky spinner for rugs or knitted felted projects... It's a nice obsession to be gotten by! And there are guilds almost everywhere, a great source for help and inspiration! Another interesting web site is the housecleaning page. It is: http://homepages.together.net/~kbruce/kbbcard.html Have fun spinning!!

-- Fran ogren (trumpkinland@plix.com), February 14, 2000.

Hi, I too am wanting to learn to spin,first I went to the library and through the lending system got three books to read, then I went online to interweave site and found guilds in my state. Since then I have found a spinning workshop in the back of the electric coop magazine and will go this month. It was a very good deal,try different wheeels,get hand spindle & fiber for 20.00, I'll have to travel about 1and 1/2 hours but will share the ride with my sister. I will let you all know how things go!!

-- julie (nelson3@bright.net), February 12, 2001.

Hi couldn't wait to tell all how great the workshop for beginners was. We had enough of the guild members there so each student learned one on one, we tried several wheels after learning the basics on a hand spindle. would recommend anyone seek out a spinning guild. everyone was so nice and said remember we were all beginners once!! Good luck,happy spinning...

-- julie (nelson3@bright.net), February 27, 2001.

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