Spinning at Harvest Feast

Spinning wheel at Harvest Feast, A&S class

Spinning wheel at Harvest Feast, A&S class – the wheel spinning in the background is from a second spinning wheel

I mentioned that I took a spinning class at Harvest Feast – I thought that I’d share some of my results here.

I had never used a spinning wheel before, and although I know I’ll have to practice more to get a more reliable result, I was quite happy with much of what I was able to produce. I even started looking to see about the cost of wheels… though while I’m unemployed, they’re definitely out of my price range. 😦

Our instructor brought bags of natural white and natural light grey wool batting, and I sort of went back and forth between the two, trying out different things as well as trying a small bit of the ‘tops’ wool as well, which seemed to produce a smoother (worsted) wool.

She taught that the combed wool bats could be produced to make woolen wool yarn, or ‘semi-worsted’ wool yarn – fluffy, with lots of air in it. She taught that the woolen yarn is good for the weft of woven fabrics, or for knitting (or naalbinding in my case!) warm garments like hats and mittens. The smoother ‘tops’ were carded instead, and could either be spun using the woolen technique for semi-worsted wool yarn, or could be spun using the worsted technique, for a smoother worsted wool yarn. Worsted yarns, she taught, were smooth and strong, and good for the warp of woven fabrics. It holds less air, so it’s less warm – though still has all the other properties of wool fibre.

Using a borrowed inkle loom as a makeshift warping board to take the yarn off the staff, and prepare it for washing & setting.

Using a borrowed inkle loom as a makeshift warping board to take the yarn off the staff, and prepare it for washing & setting.

The technique I used throughout was the worsted spinning technique, because I like the smoother yarn, and aimed for a fairly consistent diameter. (Aimed – I didn’t always succeed!) I’ve found that for naalbinding, a consistent diameter yarn creates a more desirable result, though it looks less “home made” which is sometimes desired in mundane crafts.

Natural "white" wool yarn. The wool batt was fluffy, but I tried to use the "worsted" spinning technique to create a smoother yarn.

Natural “white” wool yarn. The wool batt was fluffy, but I tried to use the “worsted” spinning technique to create a smoother yarn.

So.. I’m totally hooked on wheel spinning – if anyone has a wheel they’re not using that they’d be willing to loan me for a month or so, I’d love to give it a few more whirls… then once I can afford it I’m totally keen on getting my own!

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6 comments on “Spinning at Harvest Feast

  1. Josephine Washington says:

    Wow, you should be very proud of the results there after your first lesson. Amazing.

  2. Alisa says:

    Until you can afford a wheel, you could try spinning with a drop spindle. It’s really fun, and cheap. Beginner’s spindles are on etsy for about $10…or you can make your own out of a dowel and an old CD! Bonus is that spindles are completely portable, so you can spin anywhere.

    • Josephine Washington says:

      I take my drop spindle everywhere with me! I am sure you have already made some medieval/Viking style spindles? I find it restful spinning with a drop spindle and you can spin very fine and ply just as easily. You can spin on your thigh with just a twig, but I am sure making a spindle would be one of your challenges.

    • Dawn says:

      I have been doing drop spinning for just over a year now 🙂 It’s lots of fun, and yes… I sometimes bring it to events since it’s pretty portable. 🙂 I have a few purchased spindles, a few gifts, and two that I’ve made – including one where I carved the soapstone whorl myself!

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