Learning to Spin

So you are interested in learning to spin?  I was taught to spin by a very generous older woman who gave me some fleece and lent me her spare wheel until I could buy one of my own.

She introduced me to the art of spinning and took me step-by-step through the process of spinning my first hank of yarn.

She gave up more than a few hours of her time to teach me and introduced me to the members of her spinning and weaving group. At the time, I was twenty-four.

© Jim The Photographer | Flickr - Spinning Wheel

The average age of the women in the group was around sixty-eight!

As much as I would like to do the same for you, it is just not possible, so I will fill these pages with as much information as I can to help you to learn to spin from a distance. But if you take just one piece of advice from these pages as you learn, let it be this one:

Find your local Spinning and Weaving Club and if at all possible become a member!

In my experience, I have found spinners and weavers to be a very generous group of people. They possess incredible skills and knowledge about their craft and thrive on the opportunity to share them with anyone who shows an interest.

When you watch someone else spinning, it looks easy. Deceptively so.

The reality is that as a beginner it will be hard for you to imagine that you will ever be able to 'get it'. You will get frustrated and angry, your back will ache and you will actually begin to hate your new spinning wheel.

Spending some time with someone who has been there - done that, and now can spin virtually on autopilot can help you to work your way through it.

Ok, time to go step-by-step through the spinning process!

Learning to Spin - The Steps

Basically, learning to spin is a process which starts with selecting and preparing your fibres to the point where you have a completed skein of yarn.

  • properties of wool
  • how wool is made
  • types of wool
  • where to buy a fleece
  • selecting a fleece for your project
  • washing your wool
  • carding your wool
  • drafting your fibres
  • using a spindle
  • getting the tension right
  • spinning
  • plying
  • skeining
  • washing

Once you have completed enough skeins to make your project, you will need to find a suitable pattern and work out how to adjust it to suit your wool.  

As with most hand spun wool, your thread is unlikely to be an exact match for a commercial weight of wool and you will have to change the needle sizes to match the tension of your pattern.

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