Time at the Wheel

“Good,” Arabella told me, “you understand the basics.  Now what you need is time at the wheel. Nothing else can teach you what you need.”

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As I come to the end of the marvelous green bump that MonChere brought me on Mother’s Day, I have tangible evidence of the truth of Arabella’s statement.  The green bump (that’s what a large roll of roving is called) spun into about 9 skeins. Oh, the difference between the first skein and the last!

As beginning spinners, we are inconsistent in the size of yarn we are spinning, and also in the amount of twist we are adding to the yarn in the spinning process. The result is a finished yarn that is really too curly and twirly to be usefully knitted. (Which is one reason why you shouldn’t spend a lot of money on the wool you are learning upon!)

Notice the "skinny" strands and the "fat" strands

In this first skein, notice the uneven strands–some are “skinny” and some are “fat.”  This occurs when the spinning of the singles is uneven–of course, the hallmark of a beginner!  This is one of the skills that can only be gained by “time at the wheel.” Spinning such a large bump of wool gave me enough time at the wheel to really improve on my consistency.

Another issue for beginners is “overspinning,” which is also a consistency issue. It happens when too much twist is added to the single during spinning. When plying two singles, spinning in the opposite direction from which the singles were originally spun “balances” the finished yarn as they are twined together–except when both singles are inconsistently overspun. Then you just get what’s pictured here–evidence that this spinner needs more time at the wheel!

It does happen, though.  The improvement does happen. Compare this last skein (hooray!) with the first above. Notice the evenness of the strands compared to each other, and the evenness of the whole skein compared to the first. This last skein even felt completely different in my hands as I wound it–lighter, fluffier, balanced.

The yarn is more consistent

As for the improvement, I can’t tell you what to do specifically, except keep spinning. It’s very strange, really. A spinner begins as an uncoordinated, goofy, stumbling upon oneself, uncertain being, but sticking with it, somehow she manages to bring it all together by not thinking about it, but simply doing it. Time at the wheel, says wise Arabella.

8 thoughts on “Time at the Wheel

  1. You described the new yarn as “balanced.” What a beautiful word that describes this whole blog. “Balance” would be a byproduct of what you called “the beauty of a slower-paced, less materialistic, more careful life” in your recent post “Spinning for Hours and Hours,” don’t you think? Something that also takes time and practice to cultivate–and other people, for support and encouragement in our fast-paced culture. I’m amazed at how different the two yarns look!! Well done, T. Very inspiring.

    1. Well, that sounds like a future blog topic to me! There are a lot of life lessons in spinning….really, it’s kind of remarkable. Holding on and letting go, balance, consistency….it goes on and on~!

  2. I’m impressed! Granted I know as much about spinning as I do about rocket propulsion, but the results certainly look impressive! I love the color of that wool too. Now what are you going to make out of it?

    1. Well, that was part of the deal of getting to spin it all–I am giving it back to Teressa! I’m not sure what she is going to make out of it. But you’ve definitely hit on the dilemma of the spinner…..now that I’ve spun gorgeous yarn, what to do with it??

  3. Aaaaah, the best laid plans of women and yarn…
    It has come to my own personal attention as a spinner and a knitter, that just as the fiber itself is able to determine its own guage and texture, the yarn also has a very strong opinion about its future. Set it out in plain sight and just see if it doesn’t speak to you, indeed!

  4. Oh, and your handspun is quite impressive. You certainly didn’t reside in the newby section for long!

  5. You excel, Teresa! Or as you would say, “You rock!” What a difference, and yes, I see what you mean about making something out of it. I think Shepherd will have to decide ;o). Thank you for making something so beautiful and useful out of what had become something less than a memory in a closet!

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