I learned to spin yesterday!

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I',m excited because I finally got to learn how to spin yarn from wool. I went to my local spinners and weavers guild and got a lesson on using a drop spindle. My instructor said I was a natural at it as I only dropped the spindle once and did a good job of keeping the yarn even. I was thrilled that I got the hang of it right away although I had some difficulty getting how to loop the yarn over the spindle top correctly as she had to show me about half a dozen times. But I did learn how to do that as well. Next I will learn how to use the spinning wheel. A lot of people think it is harder to spin with a drop spindle than a spinning wheel so I decided to try the spindle first and get the harder one out of the way. I am now ready to become a spinning nut. I am especially pleased that I caughot on quickly because my main reason for learning to spin is so that I can do something with the wool on the sheep, llama and alpaca that I hope to get in the future. But since I couldn't raise sheep/lambs to slaughter I figured I better figure out how to spin the wool so they will be income producing. Of course, I still have to learn to shear and card the wool first and I want to try dying the wool as well. I have already gone to a dying demonstration and am ready to jump into that. I also want to try growing flax and making linen but I know that is an involved process. My spinning teacher has done flax as well and she is willing to teach me. The nice thing about the spinning lesson is that the instructor didn't charge me anything when I offered to pay her and she loaned me some wool and a spindle to practice with. I'm boing to surprise her with a basket of my strawberry jam next week. I love bartering. So yippee I am on my way to becoming a spinner.

-- Colleen (pyramidgreatdanes@erols.com), June 21, 2001


I still have 5 large bags of wool up in the attic, thought I might make a comforter one of these days. Congradulations to you! Did you find any Alpacas yet?

-- Cindy in KY (solid_rock_ranch@yahoo.com), June 21, 2001.

Actually, Cindy, I went to the Maryland Wool and Sheep festival this year and there were two alpaca breeders with alpacas there and I talked to both of them. They are both within an hour or two drive from me. I asked about the price of a gelded male since I am not interested in breeding them (besided the fact that breeding animals are very expensive) and they said it would cost about $1500. Although I would never get the cost back from that animal just from the wool, (at least I don't think so) I think we will probably get one anyway since hubby is the one that really wants the alpaca and I would like to spin their wool. I want one llama as well as a guard for the flock and the rest would be sheep.

-- Colleen (pyramidgreatdanes@erols.com), June 21, 2001.

I have a friend here who had a young boy chocolate llama for 200 for sale. I don't know if she sold him or not, but that was a good price I thought. I had a lady drive here from Deleware for a pup. Maybe if she still has it, we could get a ride for it.

-- Cindy in KY (solid_rock_ranch@yahoo.com), June 21, 2001.

hey, i was taught by a fiber arts teacher that drop spindling spinning is easier. someone who wasn't too good at spinning "taught" me how to use your wheel. she mostly just said, "hmmm. maybe it's the tension". i was lost and confused. I ended uptalking with michelle, an old friend from grade school who is a fiber artist and teacher in the university, and she said that it is best to learn the drop spindle first, but once folks learn the wheel and have mastered it, it is hard to go back to figure out the drop spindle. but the drop spindle teaches you (and i am messing up all my terminology lately, so forgive me if i use the wrong terms) how to draw out the wool, and work in the "v"between you fingers. it allows you to concentrate on the actual spinning process. I quit using a wheel and drop spun exclusively for a year, and then went back to a wheel. I had to figure out how to get the right balance going, but I got it in a different way and more easily by having already figured you the "hand work" part of it. So, you will find it easier to use the wheel, i believe, by learning the first step first! good for you! next thing i want to try now is a high-whorl drop spindle. it is supposed to be easier to use. i just read a book on it. drop spindles are nice because they are CHEAP when you start and you can carry them with you.

i haven't had any time to do my fiber stuff except for knitting in the last two years, but i have rearranged my life to start doing it again soon. i've missed it. but it did shear sheep once, and it was great! i loved the process. so, i've done it all now, but raising the sheep....which ihope to get a couple of in a year or two.

glad you had success!

-- marcee (thathope@mwt.net), June 21, 2001.

I really love this forum! I'm mostly a lurker. I wish I had the time to spin regularly. I learned a few years ago but haven't gotten out my wheel in the past 2 years. Never learned the drop spindle. I wonder if I need to re-learn the wheel and if I should try the spindle. Got a bum raboiullet(sp?) for the purpose of the wool. Any ideas?

BTW, Cindy, where abouts in KY are you? You seem like you'd be a good neighbor. We're in So Central and sometimes seems like there aren't homesteaders around here.

Mrs G

-- Mrs G (gunnar@yifan.net), June 21, 2001.

I had 5 Coridale sheep just for my Border Collies to train with. And I though sheep would be neat. But in my area of Kentucky, you cannot beg anyone to shear them for you. There are none. They come down from Indiana and Illinois to the big, big farms and if you want your small herd sheared, you must drive them over to those farms. And they must be sheared here by I think April 1st, or May 1st, can't remember, and then again in the fall so they will be cool to breed. I almost lost one to the heat waiting to get sheared. If you don't know what you are doing, you can really cut them with the shearers. They have very soft, tender, pink skin. After we got all the wool off, one ewe was too fat, and one was too skinny, and one was just right!

-- Cindy in KY (solid_rock_ranch@yahoo.com), June 21, 2001.

Hey Mrs G,

We're on at the same time. I am near Elizabethtown. 1 hour straight south of Louisville, and 2 hours north of Bowling Green. Were are you? I don't have ANY homesteading neighbors.

-- Cindy in KY (solid_rock_ranch@yahoo.com), June 21, 2001.


Sorry, but I simply cannot resist. If you earned a PhD, would you then be a spin doctor?

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), June 22, 2001.

Shear, process, utilize..shear, process, utilize.... Thats the Spin Cycle! hee hee

-- Alison in N.S. (aproteau@istar.ca), June 22, 2001.

Cindy you CAN shear those sheep! I guarantee none of them will complain if they get a less than fashionable coiffure and you won't cut them if you are careful, well not much anyway :-).

Sheep are just leather bags filled with lamb chops, sausages and half digested grass and the secret to not cutting them is to roll their body so that the bit you are cutting is stretched and there are no wrinkles, it is the wrinkles that get cut off!

I have never used hand shears, which might be quite hard, but with electric ones keep the back of the shears up so that only the points of the 'comb' touch the skin.


-- john hill (john@cnd.co.nz), June 22, 2001.

OHMYGOD, another cyber fibre freak - welcome toe fold, sister! Really, it's a hoot & wait until you discover living history festivals who really need a period costumed spinner - more fun than should be legal. You WILL enjoy.

Alpacas are probably more expensive than llamas, which in the Knoxville & north area, have been advertised at $500+. Dunno what the thing is in your part of the world. Would pay attention to the little freebie Thrifty Nickle papers, as prices seem to be lower.

Good luck on your adventures - you'll meet the neatest people, do the neatest things & each time you pick up a piece of wool & deal with it, you're touching "women's work" that goes back to before the Iron Age. That always impressed me. Very meditative, too, which I like. "Yarnspinnerkt" is for real & I love it. Can give you some links for good prices on used spinning wheels, if you like, just e' me & I'll be delighted.............Kt.

-- K-K-K-Katie (yarnspinnerkt@hotmail.com), June 24, 2001.

OOPS........should read "welcome to the fold, sister..." Haven't yet taught this thing how to spell...

-- K-K-k-Katie (yarnspinnerkt@hotmail.com), June 24, 2001.

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