Hand Spinning – Could it be for you? January 18, 2012 – Posted in: Project Ideas

Guest Post by David Di Giacomo 

Its been almost a year since I started really getting into spinning and I haven?t stopped since. Spinning has been soothing and meditative, much like people find knitting to be. I first started on a drop spindle and then moved to a wheel. Although using a drop spindle may be somewhat slower than a wheel, it?s a great way to learn the basics and is ultra portable. Drop spindles can also be beautiful works of art and great conversation starters.

Spinning fiber into yarn is deeply intwined in our history. It came before weaving and knitting. Before someone figured out how to spin, clothing could only be made from short strips of material, anything from hides, animal sinews, and plant fibers. The discovery of twisting loose fiber to make one long continuos strand of yarn eventually led to all the fiber crafts that we enjoy today. The need to make the spinning process faster triggered the industrial revolution. There are still cultures around today where children start learning to spin as soon as they can and where it remains their livelihood.

I?m often asked why I would want to spend my time and energy making my own yarn when there?s so much beautiful yarn in stores that I could walk in and purchase. But to know my reasons would be as simple as examining why someone would spend the time, energy and money knitting their own sweater when they could simply visit an outlet and find something similar. There’s an innate satisfaction that comes from looking at the finished skein and knowing that you made it with your own hands, using tools and methods that have been around for centuries.  And as with many of our other crafts, spinning yarn allows you to completely control the process and to ultimately produce a unique finished product exactly the way you want it.

Before starting, I had no idea just how many things you can control when making your own yarn – you can obviously control the weight of your yarn, but do you spin one fat ?singles? yarn, or do you want to ply 2 (or more) strands together to achieve a more consistent, stronger yarn? Do you want a springy, lofty yarn, or a smoother, more compressed yarn? If spinning dyed fiber, do you want long color repeats, short color repeats, or different colors plied together to create a ?marled? yarn? These are just a few of the many decisions you can make.

Combined with the myriad choices that one has in picking the type of fiber to spin from, and spinning yarn opens up into a rich craft with a lot to offer, and a lot to learn from.

Give it a try – you may just get hooked!

Espace Tricot is offering an Introduction to Hand Spinning course in February – check class schedule for details!