Spinning wool

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by pcdreams, Nov 23, 2004.

  1. pcdreams

    pcdreams Well-Known Member

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    my wife likes to knit and has been talking about wanting to try out spinning.

    I though I might pick her up a drop spindle to try out. Problem is I have no Idea about them. They all look about alike to me. I know I'd want to try to find one with a book and some wool to spin (kind a kit maybe)

    anyone have any ideas. I don't have any idea what to expect cost wise.

    This is to be a x-mas gift so SHHHHH!!! :)
     
  2. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    She probably wants a spinning wheel, but she needs to try a few out to make a choice. A decent wheel will start in the $500 range, but you may be able to get a used one for around $250. Mine is a Kromski, which I love.

    Try going to www.spinnerschoice.com/Drop Spindles.htm

    Their price is $17.something. You can expect to pay in the $12.00 to $25.00 range for a nice drop spindle. One of my knitting friends, who has three nice spinning wheels, prefers to drop spin. It is a matter of personal preference, and you wife may or may not like using a drop spindle. Still, $20 is an easy sell. If you get her the spindle, I will send you some very nice roving to practice with.
     

  3. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

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    A book I use alot as a reference is "The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning", by (you guessed it) Alden Amos. Huge book, kinda expensive ($40, hardback), but it goes into everything from scouring fleece to carding to spinning. The book also covers all different kinds of spinning wheels and the pros and cons of each kind. Some of these kinds of books you read once and then toss in a pile or give away - this one I keep reaching for.

    The drop spindle I like cost me $15. It's easy to use and has a nice balance.

    I learned to spin using romney roving. It's a kind of medium texture'd fleece that tends to behave itself.

    Some other links for you:
    http://www.thewoolery.com/index.html

    http://www.yarn.com/yarns/yarn_main.html#sil
     
  4. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    Spinning is.. how do a put this.. a grave obsession once you get hooked! A woman might forsake family, meals, and personal hygene! ;-)

    But seriously... the nicest thing you could do for your wife is to find someone locally who will teach her to spin, either on a wheel, or with a drop spindle. Trying to learn it yourself without someone to show you the tricks is really, really frustrating.

    Depending on where you are there is probably a sheep and wool fiber festival coming up either this winter or next fall which you could take your wife to (this is NOBLE of you... my husband groans every year!). There she'll find workshops with experienced spinners who can do more than give her tips... they can help her pick out a fleece, talk her through spinning in the grease (unwashed), vs. roving, vs. batts, and help her pick out a wheel which works for her.

    At the last show I saw a PVC (no kidding) pipe wheel. Ugliest thing I've ever seen... and it was one of the best made, best balanced, wheels I've ever used. They had one for production spinning which allowed you to run two threads, one from each hand. It was AWESOME... and, in a sea of wheels that start at $500, his entry level wheel was less than $200, and I think there was one for $150. New.

    You can also find wheels on ebay, but until your wife knows what she wants, don't go that route. Spinning is a highly personal affair, like knitting. Some knitters swear by bamboo needles, some by wood, some by steel... and they're not comfortable working with anything else.

    I personally use a custom built castle wheel which I inherited from my mother... but I was very impressed with the lighter PVC wheels. Easy transport, indestructable, amazing balance... ok, ugly. You can see how a wheel becomes a highly personal choice.
     
  5. brosil

    brosil Well-Known Member Supporter

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    And if you're really cheap, I've picked up one made of 2 AOL cds, a washer, a rubber grommet and a dowl.
     
  6. JerseyLightning

    JerseyLightning Well-Known Member

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    I learned to spin on a drop spindle and was glad that I did. It helps you to learn to control the fiber, the fiber drafting, the spin, etc., before you need to learn to control the wheel. I've successful taught others this way, and they have agreed it was easier than jumping right onto a wheel. And, other than having someone show me how to do the half-hitch at the top of the yarn leader, I was self-taught, so it can be done.

    I bought my first drop spindles from Lois at Bountiful Fibers:
    http://www.bountifulspinweave.com/natural_fibers_from_bountiful.htm
    You can email or call her directly and tell her you want a drop spindle for a beginner and she will help you out. She can also put together something as far as a "kit" -- spindle, roving and book.

    The Woolery is good source to; I saw someone had posted that. And, there is always Ebay!

    Schacht is a good brand -- their spinning and weaving equipment are generally made from maple and the craftsmanship is nice. You can go to the Schacht website and see if there are any dealers in your area. http://www.schachtspindle.com/default_alldealers.htm

    Doing it this way is less expensive than buying a wheel. It will give your wife a chance to sample spinning -- if she likes it, and wants a wheel, she can then go try out a few to find one that suits her. Feel free to PM me if you have any other specific questions!

    Kathleen in NJ
     
  7. Emily Nouvertne

    Emily Nouvertne Well-Known Member

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    When I was interested in spinning wool and had NO IDEA where to look I called the Cooperative Extension office in a few towns away. They lead me to the most wonderful woman to teach me how to spin. She charged me a dozen farm fresh eggs per lesson, she let me take her wheels home with me to practice on, to see what type I liked. This was a most wonderful way to learn, only I really didn't take to drop spindling because I had access to wheels very quickly. You may be able to make the connection for her and line up some lessons for her for Christmas!
    Happy Holidays!
     
  8. pcdreams

    pcdreams Well-Known Member

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    thanks for all the wonderful advice.

    She wants to start on a spindle and see how she likes it. So I think that's the way to go. We have several yarn shops in the area and when I was there last time (sigh ;) I noticed they had spindles, wheels and looms.

    Their spindles were $6 which made me question the quality.
     
  9. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

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    As long as the rod is solidly attatched to the whorl (the flat round part of a spindle), there's really no reason a $6 spindle wouldn't work. I know someone who used an old crochet hook glued to an AOL cd she got free in the mail. I use an Ashford spindle because I like it's balance, I don't like the feel of the Schacht as well (but I love the Schacht boat shuttles for weaving). The way a tool "feels" is a very individual preference, and your wife will be the one to make that decision once she's figured out how to use the blasted thing.

    If you have a local shop that sells the supplies, why not see if someone working there can give your wife a few lessons? I learned to weave at a yarn shop close to me - $100 plus free use of their looms as long as I purchased my supplies through them. It was a more than fair deal, I thought.
     
  10. MullersLaneFarm

    MullersLaneFarm Well-Known Member

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    My husband relies on Susan at http://www.susansfibershop.com/

    I used a drop spindle (one he made me) for a few years to learn to draft, but was never thrilled with it. Last summer he bought me an Ashford Traveler from Susan and for Christmas, it was a Patrick Green drum carder from her. This year for my birthday was some

    Paul says Susan was great to work with (he knows nothing about spinning or fiber). She even let him make payments!!
     
  11. momofeight

    momofeight Active Member

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    When I get my homestead, I am going to try spinning. I tried weaving...even made myself the most rustic type of loom possible...and wove the most rustic fabric possible. LOL!
     
  12. cast iron

    cast iron Well-Known Member

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    My wife is big time into knitting and spinning. Not only for the satisfaction of actually making something, but for the social aspects as well.

    She is part of an active knit/spin group that meets once or twice per week for knitting, and once every two weeks for spinning. They pack up their knitting stuff or spinning wheels and meet down at the local coffee shop, book store, ale house for a few hours in the evening. Nothing like tipping back a couple Northwest micro brews while busting out a sock or sweater with the gals I guess. :)

    I am continually in awe of what she can make. Everything from simple scarves to complex sweaters. I absolutely love the socks she makes for me, I have yet to find a commercially available sock that is as comfortable.

    Wayne
     
  13. momofeight

    momofeight Active Member

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    Awwww, what a sweet husband!
     
  14. Shahbazin

    Shahbazin Well-Known Member

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    Here's a useful site for handspinners:
    http://www.spin-list.com/
    It's the home page for a very busy & informative YahooGroups list.

    Here's the website for that PVC econo-wheel that was mentioned :)
    http://www.babesfibergarden.com/BFG92001/
    Hey, it does the job!

    I spin with an Ashford Traditional myself, which is quite versatile, & is one of the more reasonable wood wheels - you can buy it in a kit, & stain & assemble it yourself.
    http://www.ashford.co.nz/

    I also have a very cute little wooden spindle with lambs etched around the whorl ($14 or $15) that I got from the Woolery, that I just carry around in my project bag, as you can spin anywhere with it. I found spinning on a wheel easier, but some people start with spindles & find that easier; depends on the person, I guess.