I don't know if it's true, but I was once told that people in medieval times used to spin w/a potato and a smooth stick. How in the world to you spin it tho?
I heard that too, that's why I'm spinning with the potato, to see if I could. Strangely enough, it actually spins pretty well, sure it's heavy, since I probably should have used a smaller, rounder potato, but I used what I had around.
I highly doubt it's true though. Food isn't anywhere near as precious now as it was then so I just can't see anyone spinning with something that they could rather be eating plus the fact that they'd have to replace the whorl regularly.
As for how to spin with it, just like a normal bottom whorl spindle without a hook, finger spin a small amount for a leader, wind on, spiral up the shaft, tie a half hitch, spin, undo the half hitch and wind on, and repeat until the spindle's full.
This is going to be a spinning challenge that people are going to vote on and not just a spin a long right?
What about spin an autobiography?: yarn's linear, so people can spin a yarn that symbolizes their life, or important part in it: changing colors, fibers, thichness, adding items, whatever and then it will be their choice whether or not they want to explain it or let the yarn speak for itself.
Spinning based on a picture, either each person chooses and posts their own picture and spins a yarn based on the colors, or one person chooses a picture and everyone spins a yarn using colors from it.
Spinning with odd inclusions: beads, buttons, paper shreds, doll parts, etc...
I like the idea of a spin along, where a bunch of us get together and collectively try to spin a certain fiber (bamboo, silk, cotton, linen, ecospun, silk hankies, etc) or with a certain technique (long draw, spinning from the fold, tailspinning, spinning from the lock, spinning lace, spinning low twist singles, etc) or on certain equipment (top whorl spindling, bottom whorl spindling, supported spindles) and share experiences and the finished yarn, maybe even something made out of the yarn, but I wouldn't participate if it was competitive though.
First off, I must ask: are you sure that you're actually allergic to wool and not just sensitive? All wool is not created the same: it could be possible that you've only worked with coarser wools, it's possible that your skin is very sensitive and you just need to work with softer wools. Wool diameter is measured in microns: wool 30 microns and coarser is practically guaranteed to be itchy, wool 20 microns and finer should not bother most people, and wool in between 20-30 microns may or may not be itchy depending on how sensitive your skin is.
It's also been suggested that some people are allergic to chemicals (sheep dip residue, mothproofing, dye, soap residue) used in the processing of the wool.
Wool is the best fiber for learning, and medium coarse wool is easier to spin than finer wool because it tends to be longer, but if you are indeed allergic to wool, I'd recommend you try to learn with alpaca: it contains no lanolin, so shouldn't bother your skin and has some crimp to it. It might be a little on the slippery side but I'd say it's the next best fiber to learn with.
Soysilk is IMHO, one of the easier non wool fibers, but it's a little more slippery and has a tendency of getting on your shirt and up your nose when you're spinning it, and seems to always need just a little more twist than what you give it.
There are tons of other non wool fibers available, though many of them are alot more difficult to spin Some off the top of my head:
Mohair Cashmere Ingeo Yak down Qivut down Camel down Linen Silk Bamboo Ramie Angora Nylon Cotton Tencel Viscose Llama Ecospun (recycled soda bottles) Silk Latte (made from milk waste) Buffalo Down Vicuna (one day... one day, I will be able to afford to spin you!) Chiengora (dog hair)
Both Mohair and cashmere are goat fibers and do contain grease that while scoured off, may still be somewhat present in the fiber or yarn.
Linen is traditionally spun counter clockwise because it is said that the fibers naturally spiral in that direction.
Other cellulose fibers don't have the same properties and can be spun either way.
Knitting and crocheting add twist to the yarn, and a clockwise spun, counter clockwise plied yarn will twist in the plying direction a bit when knitted while a counterclockwise spun, clockwise plied yarn will unply when knitted.
Crocheting has the opposite effect so some crocheters spin their yarn counter clockwise and ply clockwise so that it twists in the plying direction when crocheted. commercial yarn does twist away from the plying direction when crocheted but since most commercial yarn is loosely twisted, it's not as noticeable as with handspun.
Ingeo is actually not a true plant fiber. Sure it comes from corn, but it's actually a type of plastic made from corn starch. Ingeo is the trade name of the fiber form of PLA, or polylactic acid. It's meltspun into fibers just like other synthetics. Unlike other synthetics however, PLA doesn't originate from crude oil, comes from renewable resources, and most importantly, is biodegradable. The plastic windows in envelopes are usually made of PLA. PLA is a pretty cool technology. There's even biodegradable grocery bags available made out of PLA.
First off, I must admit that I've never spun on a double drive wheel, so everything I know is only from what I've read but nonetheless I believe I can help you out.
Most double drive wheels have one drive band that is crossed so that it drives both the flyer and bobbin. There are some people who use two separate drive bands but the traditional setup is indeed one large crossed drive band.
I looked in my copy of "the spinner's companion" for help (I also looked in "the alden amos big book of handspinning" but got nothing but a headache) and it says this about the double drive band:
"it's normal to join the drive band for the predominant twist direction (z) and use the same configuration for plying (s), which causes a little extra friction. You can also remove and cross the band the opposite way for s twist."
To clarify, Z twist is when you turn the wheel clockwise, the fibers should slant in this / direction like the center of the letter "z" and s is when you turn the wheel counter clockwise and the fibers slant in this \ direction, like the center of the letter "s"
For z twist, the cross should be at the bottom For s twist, the cross should be at the top
Most people spin z and ply s.
The book stated that there will be some friction while plying with the drive band crossed at the bottom but it shouldn't be a problem. Check to make sure the wheel is aligned correctly with the whorls, maybe it's a bit out of alignment and isn't a big deal spinning but because of the friction of plying, it causes the drive band to get thrown off. Make sure the drive band is on tight, but not too tight.
And if all else fails, position the cross in the driveband at the bottom when spinning and the top when plying; it's a bit of a stopgap solution but should keep it from falling off.