Hand spinning wool

 

three rolls of wool, transferred off the drop spindle and onto dowels

three rolls of wool, transferred off the drop spindle and onto dowels

When I was at June Coronation for the new ‘Kingdom of Avacal‘ (SCA) I attended a class on using a drop-spindle. For some reason, the thought of it just stuck with me, nagging me for quite some time, before I decided to just take the plunge and found a local supplier selling simple drop-spindles. I already had a bag of wool roving (which I purchased actually to make wool dreadfalls… I hope there’s going to be enough left for that too!)

I got my spindle from Stash Lounge in Inglewood. It’s called the Darn Good Yarn Drop Whorl Spindle, and was $16.00 plus tax.

close up of the wool on the dowel, along with the orange-toned pink polish from my July ipsy glam bag

close up of the wool on the dowel, along with the orange-toned pink polish from my July ipsy glam bag

I still need a lot of work on my consistency of width, and also seem to be prone to over-spinning, but I’m really enjoying the technique, and think I’ll do a bit of this… This white (undyed, unbleached, natural) wool is Natural White Fine Shetland Top and my plan is to use it for a Nålbinding project.

The package of wool was $14.51 (plus tax) for 227 grams or 1/2 a pound, from Shuttleworks.com just outside of Calgary/Okotoks.

Once my drop-spindle was quite full, I transferred the hand-spun yarn to a dowel of a similar diameter, just for storage while I spun some more wool. I wanted to create a bit at a time, to be able to hopefully do my project in one go.. rather than spinning, washing, Nålbinding, then going back and spinning, and washing some more. We’ll see how that works out – and if I made enough/too much! (Knowing how consuming Nålbinding is, I’m betting it will be more like too little than too much!)

preparing the wool for washing on a DIY make-shift warping board

preparing the wool for washing on a DIY make-shift warping board

I don’t have a warping board, so in order to prepare the wool for washing (and presumably to measure it.. though I forgot to do that…) I used my bookshelf, stuck some dowels between the books (and dvds) and wound the wool around the dowels the same way I use to with a warping board back in school when I took weaving. At least I THINK this is a similar way… it’s been a while and I didn’t bother to look it up.

I made three spindle-worth bundles, and only measured one of them, which was 15 lengths of 63 inches each, for a total of 945 inches, or 78.75 feet, or 24 meters. If all three bundles were the same length (they weren’t – the first one had fewer strands), it would be a total of 2835 inches or 236.25 feet, or 72 meters.

I tied the wool off at the crosses at top and bottom, as well as some figure 8s in the middle to avoid tangling, and make it easy to re-wind once it was washed.

I washed the wool in hot-to-the-touch water, with some soap, and agitated gently. I was hoping this would slightly full the wool, and ‘set’ the twist of the spinning. I did realize in this that I had over-spun some of my wool, as it was quite kinky in spots. On the first wash the water was a bit dirty, so I washed again, and then when the water was more clear, rinsed with cold water to remove any residual soap.

After washing I hung the yarn to dry, with some small weights to straighten it further if possible. Originally I used my apron-brooches as weights, but then traded them off for other weights, so I wouldn’t have to worry about tarnishing my brooches with the water/dampness of the wool.

handspun wool after spinning, washing, and drying. Ready to wind up.

handspun wool after spinning, washing, and drying. Ready to wind up.

The wool dried very quickly (overnight I think?) so I took it down, and gathered it up, ready to go back on my makeshift warping board to be re-wound on a dowel (as a bobbin) for Nålbinding with. If I had one of those nice ‘draw-from-the-core’ yarn winders, I’d probably use that instead, but I don’t.. and the dowel seems like a reasonable enough option.

 

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