I learned how to spin only about four years ago. I have an Ashford Traditional that I acquired as part of a package deal almost 30 years ago. The package was three angora rabbits, the spinning wheel, a pair of hand carders, and a lazy Kate for plying the yarn. I tried to teach myself how to spin a number of times, and never was very successful. Trying to spin angora, which is very slippery, probably had something to do with it. I had the bunnies for many years before they passed on to bunny heaven, and I did hang on to the wheel. When I was ready, the teacher arrived.
Nancy Weber and I worked at a yarn store together, and when she started teaching classes out if her home, I was once again ready to tackle spinning. She’s one of the most patient teachers, and over a number of weeks taught five of us the basics of how to make yarn. In the years in between, I’ve kind of held my own with spinning, but haven’t really progressed all that much. It’s ok yarn, but not really fabulous.
In an attempt to take a step up in my spinning, I’ve signed up for some classes at the Conference of Northern California Handweavers (CNCH) which is about a month away. It’s a great conference for not only weavers, but also for spinners. They have some really great classes in weaving, spinning and basketry by the top teachers in their areas of expertise. You can learn more about the conference at http://www.cnch.org
Of course since I never do anything half way, I’m jumping in over my head and have signed up for a class on spinning cashmere. I’ve tried repeatedly to spin cashmere blends and have had mixed results. Not wanting to waste this wonderful fiber, I’ve set it aside, waiting for my skills to catch up. The best way for this to happen is 1. Do a lot of spinning and 2. Take a class.
Not knowing whether how well my hand is going to work, since I’m still healing, I’ve pulled out my new-to-me spinning wheel to give it a try. Well, it wasn’t too bad. I was able to do an hour of spinning before the hand started complaining, so I’m going to take it slow. I’m spinning alpaca, which is one of my favorite fibers, in a lovely chocolate brown, with light brown highlights.
It feels good to be spinning. The whurr of the wheel is very soothing and I’m very happy to back at the wheel. Plus, I’m making new yarn! Now to keep spinning with some regularity between now and mid May so I’ll be ready to tackle the cashmere.
I’m already looking forward to October when SOAR, the Spin Off Autumn Retreat will be in Lake Tahoe, so I can take another step up in my spinning skills. Then, maybe I’ll feel comfortable selling some of my handspun.