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Topic: Beginning to spin but no wool  (Read 2148 times)
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flanman
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« on: March 21, 2007 11:39:20 AM »

Hi, I really want to learn how to spin, but where do I start? Is it horribly difficult? What kind of tools would I need to try it out? Also, I kinda don't want to use wool roving; I looked up different kinds of fibers (corn, soysilk, cotton, etc) Which is the easiest to start out with? (and the cheapest!) Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!!  Grin

And where would I get all these delightful goodies??
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« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2007 12:33:30 PM »

check here!

http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=69316.0
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Snowberrylime
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« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2007 12:35:23 PM »

Yep, I was going to send you there myself...

There are two sticky threads on top of this board, one on the tools needed (FAQs) and one on where to buy roving, they should pretty much answer all your questions.
As to what fibre is easiest and cheapest, I'm afraid it's wool, lol. It really is the best place to start, and there are so many different qualities of wool as well! Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2007 12:48:42 PM »

is there a reason you don't want to use wool?
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« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2007 03:33:43 PM »

Hey, thanks for the links! But does anyone have any personal advice about fibers?
I don't want to use wool because of personal reasons, but how hard is it to use any of those other plant-fibers? Is cotton hard? Thanks for your help! Kiss
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« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2007 04:59:23 PM »

Cotton, and other plant fibers, are super easy to find on eBay. There's lots of people that sell spinning fiber from eBay stores. Just search for whatever you want + spinning fiber, ex: "cotton spinning fiber". Some of my favorite sellers on eBay are Copper Moose, Kendig Cottage and Little Barn Fibers. They all sell some plant fibers. I bought my first spindle from Ma and Pa's Spindles. They are heavy and inexpensive, so good for someone just starting out, but if you find that you like it, I'd start looking for nicer spindles. Those, too, can be found on eBay.

I'd imagine cotton is sort of difficult for a beginner to spin. It has really short fibers, so it takes coordination to handle it and spin it (I spin on a spindle, but I've read it's also difficult to spin on a wheel). If you are spindling, it requires a tahkli, which is a supported spindle that can spin faster than other spindles. You could learn on a tahkli, but most people learn on a bottom whorl spindle. It's a lot more multipurpose.

I've also spun bamboo and flax, and found them easier to spin than cotton, but still kind of difficult. I imagine that if I started spinning on one of those, rather than wool, it wouldn't have been so hard. Flax has longer fibers than bamboo, so even though flax isn't really recommended for beginners, I imagine it's one of the easier plant fibers to spin. It's kind of tough and rope like when it's spun alone. Here's a link about spinning flax.

I don't know if you are interested in spinning synthetic fibers (I don't care for them, but add synthetic glitz to some of my yarns for sparkle), but there is tencel and fake cashmere and other synthetic fibers that may be easier to spin than natural plant fibers. I don't really have any experience with them, but it's another option to check out.

Good luck!
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Snowberrylime
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« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2007 05:00:51 PM »

Ok, I'll try again:
Spinning is all about the length of fibres, the longer a fibre is, the easier it is to spin.

Wool, especially some of the rougher wools have a long 'staple' (length of individual fibre), cotton on the other hand has one of the shortest staples known to man. Something like silk has a longer staple, but is very expensive to start out with ($8.- plus for 3.5oz) and very slippery. Being slippery is another enemy of the beginning spinner.

Unless you're allergic to wool or vegan I'd really recommend wool.
In ye olde days linen was quite popular or hemp is another alternative, but I myself haven't got any experience with these fibres - all I know is that they are pretty rough.

Hope this helped a little, mybe somebody else has some more ideas. Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2007 05:27:37 PM »

Tencel is a man-made fiber, not a synthetic. It's made from wood-pulp, not a plastic like nylon.

Most plant fibers are going to be more difficult to spin as a beginner because the inherent nature of cellulose fibers is very different than wool. Wool fibers have scales that allow the fibers to grip each other. Cellulose fibers don't have these scales and therefore tend to be slipperier.

If you're anti-wool for cruelty reasons--there are a ton of small, family farms that practice very humane methods of rearing and shearing. It's pretty easy to find these places thanks to the internet, try google-ing hobby farms, fleece or similar. Or, pick up a copy of Spin-off by interweave press. There are tons of adds for different producers, many of them small, in the magazine.
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« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2007 06:02:35 PM »

I'm not going to ask what your personal reasons are, but it is possible to spin "vegan" wool if that is your goal.  I personally gave up wearing leather and wool some years ago due to personal reasons and was apprehensive when I developed an interest in spinning.  I use mill ends, wool that would otherwise be discarded, and there are small farms that raise very well-cared for sheep and alpaca who sheer in a very animal-friendly manner where there is a reciprocity between the care of the animals and the fleece they provide.  If this is your primary concern, Miss Hawklet is a great person to speak with.
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« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2007 07:23:54 PM »

everyone said what I was going to say...and I agree completely on the small farms and mill ends.

I also agree that plant fibers are hard to spin.  I would NOT suggest cotton...it is hard if you are starting out.  I would suggest something like ramie b/c it has a longer staple.  You can get plant fibers from ebay or a place like kendigcottage.com.  Plant fibers also tend to be slippery which is hard for a beginner.

Plant fibers tend to be more expensive than wool and I find them a pain in the ass to dye, but that is just me.

So yeah, I think wool is best for a beginner!

BTW if you are worried about the museling (sp?) thing, buy from small farms and ask about their practices.  I've never heard of a small American farm doing this sort of thing.  A good source for lovely animal friendly wool is homesteadwoolandgiftfarm.com...they are a rescue farm and wonderful, wonderful people.
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