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Topic: newbie spinner - intimidated  (Read 1716 times)
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mooshie
« on: January 07, 2008 09:23:22 AM »

well I feel like I've been going backwards ever since I discovered a love for knitting.  Smiley  I learned to knit, now I'm trying to convince DH that he shouldn't make me wait till I've used up almost everything in my stash b-4 ordering wool sock yarn to dye.  then I discovered spinning!  I really think I want to try hand spinning and then dyeing and knitting my own yarn.  I mean, how cool would it be to be able to tell ppl that my sweater, socks, hat, gloved (or whatever) came to my house as a bag of fluff (they'd never know what roving or top means)!?  it just sounds so cool!  but I'm very intimidated by the thought.  I mean I litterally want to turn a bag of fluff into a sweater, or whatever.  so while I know DH isn't totally sold on the idea yet (he'll come around) I'm not sure I can do it either. but I WANT to.  lol  so I think I'd be much less intimidated if I had a few questions answered by people who know what they're doing first.

1. I've seen home made drop spindles online. seeing as how it would save on the cost to get started if I made my own (which is deffinatley what Dh wants) is it reasonable to expect to get a decent final product with a home made drop spindle?

2. I would like to eventually spin everything from fingering weight to worsted.  is it realistic to expect to ever be able to spin fingering weight yarn on a drop spindle? 

3. if I spin some yarn, and I decide the plys are too thick can I re-spin (or spin it more, or whatever) the plys (b-4 plying them) to get a thinner ply? or am I stuck with whatever comes out the first time?   

4. when shopping for fibers how do I know if the final yarn will be felt-able or not? washable or not? I'm  sure I'd like to spin some yarn that is machine washable as well. are there key words to look for when shopping around that will tell me if the fibers will be machine or hand washable once spun? or is it in the spinning that makes it washable or not?  how will I know? (see I told you I'm intimidated)

5. are there types of fibers to stay away from? fibers that give a yucky or course yarn? things that make it hard to spin?  basically I want nice soft yarn, are there things that would prevent this end product that I should stay away from? 

I'm sure I'm overanylizing this, but I don't want to be really dissapointed once I get up the guts to order fibers for spinning.

oh! one last thing
6. what's the difference between top and roving?  is one easier or better than the other?

thanks!

oh yeah I forgot:
7. how much yarn would I get per pound of fiber if I'm spinning worsted weight yarn  approximately?  I need to figure out how much to order my first time.

thanks agian!
« Last Edit: January 07, 2008 09:30:23 AM by mooshie - Reason: one more question » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2008 11:06:38 AM »

Good questions. Sorry ... I don't have any answers for you  Sad I came here to ask pretty much the same questions! I just took apart a wool sweater and I was wondering if I could re-spin the yarn as it is quite bulky and loosely spun. So I would love an answer for that question too! I have a picture of the yarn here.

I'm another newbie to the spinning world. I don't have a spindle yet either, but I'm also considering a home-made drop spindle, at least for now.
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cottondeer
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2008 12:23:19 PM »

1. I've seen home made drop spindles online. seeing as how it would save on the cost to get started if I made my own (which is deffinatley what Dh wants) is it reasonable to expect to get a decent final product with a home made drop spindle?

I made my first spindle from a wooden toy wheel and a dowel rod. It was my favorite spindle until it broke. Sad It worked really well; as well as the spindles I purchased. I have never used one of those CD spindles, but they must work well enough because people like to teach spindle spinning on them.

2. I would like to eventually spin everything from fingering weight to worsted.  is it realistic to expect to ever be able to spin fingering weight yarn on a drop spindle?

Absolutely! It's very easy to spin fingering and laceweight on a spindle. It takes practice, and you need to have a light spindle, but it can definitely be done.

3. if I spin some yarn, and I decide the plys are too thick can I re-spin (or spin it more, or whatever) the plys (b-4 plying them) to get a thinner ply? or am I stuck with whatever comes out the first time?   

I've never tried to unspin a single. I guess you could, but that seems like a lot of work.

4. when shopping for fibers how do I know if the final yarn will be felt-able or not? washable or not? I'm  sure I'd like to spin some yarn that is machine washable as well. are there key words to look for when shopping around that will tell me if the fibers will be machine or hand washable once spun? or is it in the spinning that makes it washable or not?  how will I know? (see I told you I'm intimidated)

Superwash wool is machine washable. It is chemically treated to not felt when washed. All other wool and animal fibers will felt when agitated.

5. are there types of fibers to stay away from? fibers that give a yucky or course yarn? things that make it hard to spin?  basically I want nice soft yarn, are there things that would prevent this end product that I should stay away from?

Cotton is hard for beginners to spin. It has a short staple (the fibers are really short). I'd really not recommend any plant fibers to start with; I'd probably just start with some domestic wool roving or something. I've also heard that ingeo (a fiber made from corn) feels disgusting to spin.

6. what's the difference between top and roving?  is one easier or better than the other?

A good article from Spin-Off.


7. how much yarn would I get per pound of fiber if I'm spinning worsted weight yarn  approximately?  I need to figure out how much to order my first time.

A good ounce-to-yardage chart.

nefertari - I have spun recycled yarn on a spindle when it was too loose. I just took the yarn and spun it in the same direction that it was already spun, then washed, fulled and set the yarn. It made a thick yarn that looked like a single but was really several threads.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2008 12:24:08 PM by cottondeer » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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stephknitz
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2008 12:42:37 PM »

I tried to make my first spindle and it was not good at all...I think my Schact Hi Lo was reasonably inexpensive (less than $20) I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. That is what I would get if I were you.
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« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2008 12:49:10 PM »

Lots of good questions here, and I want to say that I definitely think you should join us and become a handspinner!  

1.  You can absolutely get high quality yarn from a drop spindle.  Personally, that's all I had for the first 8 months I spun.  With practice, you can achieve amazing results with a spindle, especially because you have to pay close attention to nearly every inch of yarn while you're spinning it.

2.  Yes, fingering weight yarn can be spun on a spindle BUT keep in mind that the lighter the spindle, the finer the yarn you can spin.  If you want bulky yarn, a heavy spindle is good for keeping the momentum going and the twist in the yarn.  If you want fingering weight, a tiny, light whorl is excellent...you might even want a supported spindle (where the bottom point rests on the floor or in a bowl) for added control...you don't want the weight of the spindle breaking your yarn.

3.  It is difficult to respin already spun yarn.  It can technically be done if you decide you don't like the thickness of your ply, but honestly it is a headache.  Carders (hand, drum, flick) can be used to open up the fibers so that they can be redrafted.  Make sure you don't set the twist before you try to reprocess the yarn...it becomes infinitely harder once the twist is set.  Seriously, spinning takes time--especially on a drop spindle--and rather than try to redo everything, I would encourage you to keep the yarn as a single, ply it with thread for a boucle yarn, or (if you think it will be too thin as a two-ply) create a three ply or a navajo ply yarn.  MUCH easier than starting over again.  Anyway, it's important to play with your yarn and big ole bulky stuff with skinny areas is all part of the learning process!

4.  A yarn is feltable if it animal-based:  wool, alpaca (a bit harder to felt), mohair, etc.  Even human hair is feltable (aka dreads).  If you want to use wool but don't want it to felt, look for the word "Superwash".  Superwash has been processed so that either the scales on the fibers have been removed (the scales are what lock together when you felt something) or the fibers have been coated in a polymer that causes the scales not to lock.  Superwash Merino is the most popular superwash wool.

5.  Types of fibers to stay away from...hmm...loaded question!  As a beginner, you might want to shy away from mohair and angora rabbit fluff, since they tend to be "flyaway" and difficult for the beginner to wrangle.  I'd recommend starting with Blue Faced Leicester wool, since it has a long staple and is also soft and strong.  Merino wool is sometimes hard for beginners because the staple length (length of individual fibers) is rather short.  Vegetable fibers are tricky...flax is extremely long and cotton is extremely short.  Best to start with wool, I think!   Cheesy

6.  Top is combed whereas roving is carded.  However, many people use these terms interchangably.  Combed top has fibers that all lie parallel to each other...it usually produces a silky, shiny, dense yarn.  Carded roving or batts have fibers that lie a bit willy-nilly...they usually will give you a fuzzier, warmer, lighter yarn.  Some people think that beginning with carded fibers is easier, since it is not as hard to pre-draft them.  

7.  Here's a good chart for determining the answer to this question!  http://www.spinderellas.com/patterns/yarnchart.html
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mooshie
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2008 01:26:45 PM »

thank you all so much!! wow! what a friendly and knowledgable bunch of ladies you all are.  I'm so happy that you shared with me.  now I really want to try spinning.  I wonder what it'll take to convince DH that I really do need to order some roving??  I'm a bit less intimidated now though.  so I'll let you all know when/if I do get a chance to order.
thanks!!
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« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2008 05:11:44 AM »

You can also check out a local yarn store.  Mine had a beginners spinning class that was $100.  Included all the fiber we used (blue face lecisiter to start, then corridale, then superwash merino, then mohair-- in the order we learned to spin them)  It also included the drop spindle..  I have an asford - i think it's even the "student" spindle.  I know she sells them for like $15.    We also got to try out different wheels, so that when/if we were to buy a wheel we'd have some experience.

I had a drop spindle since I started spinning in August.  I just bought a wheel (well I had 2 failes attempts, and finally just bought a new ashford Joy)  But like everyone has said, you definitly don't need a wheel to start.  My instructor liked to remind everyone that people have been spinning the finest yarn since pre egyptian times (I mean, the egyptians had like the THINNEST yarn.. egyptian cotton anyone) and that was all done on spindles..  wheels weren't even used until like 500 years ago...    SOOOO.. with practice you can get very thin/fine yarn.  Just make sure you watch.. because with thin yarn you can overtwist and then it will break.  Just watch so you don't overtwist.

I have found that the Blue Face Lecisiter and Corridale were very easy to start with.  Merino was a bit harder, but again with practice it's SOO soft and squishy.. it's hard not to love.  I just started spinning alpaca and it's definitly a bit more difficlut because of how soft and slippery it is..  but it's sooooooooo nice and silky, now that i have the hand of it, I just LOVE it!!   (which is great, since I have a pound of black alpaca/silk mix i have to spin for my bridesmaids shawls)


welcome to the addiction!!

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stripey_cat
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2008 06:49:54 AM »

I started on Jacob wool, prepared as commercial top.  I found I took very quickly to worsted technique, and am still working hard at getting a really fluffy, woolen-type yarn.  (Um, worsted yarn meaning spun very dense, tightly packed fibres - the sort you'd use for traditional suits - rather than the American yarn weight.  Love ambiguity!)  Jacob is a middling wool - the staple is about 8cm, and it has a fair bit of crimp, and I found it easier than either merino or the lustre types.  It's soft enough for me to wear, but I don't get the wool itchies for anything finer than rug-wool anyway!

It's going to take you a while to learn to spin, so I'd learn that first before worrying about making your jumper yarn - superwash is noticably slippery compared to untreated fibre; fine, soft fibres are trickier than medium ones.  Good quality preparation helps - no matter how nice the fibre, if the roving is uneven, it'll be horrible to draft.  Personally, I've had better experiences with commercial top than with mill-carded roving.  If you want to hand-card your own rolags, top is the best place to start.  There's no reason why you can't learn to spin on a down fibre or on cotton or linen (people do where those are the primary spinning fibres), but if the majority of your spinning will be wool it's probably best to start with wool, as the techniques are very different.

You'll get more yardage the softer you spin - worsteds come up very heavy for their length, because the thread is so dense; woolens are more open, so you get more yardage.  While you're learning, I'd suggest getting half-pounds of several different types of fibre, so you have enough to get a feel for each, but you won't end up only able to spin one thing!  For your jumper, possibly the thing to do would be to get samples (maybe an ounce) of a few wools, spin them all up, and go with your favourite.  You'd get an idea of yardage from your sample skein.

Going along unspinning then respinning would be a pain in the bum.  I've done it for short sections (a couple of feet) when my attention wandered, but it's not worth it for longer sections unless you're spinning cashmere or something!  Re-plying is bad enough (some bright spark once managed to chain-ply half a wheel-bobbin before noticing she was plying the same way as the singles).

Have fun.  It's very addictive.

K.
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mooshie
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2008 09:13:10 AM »

um... I think I need an estensive book on spinning lol any good ones out there?  and, what is drafting?

also I MAY be able to get wool locally, but I don't know how it'll come. there's a chance it'll just come straight from the sheep.  I haven't talked to the people yet. had to leave a message.  so I have no idea if they do anything other than sheer the sheep.  IF I could get wool locally (I love to support local farmers) I will need to know what to do with it if it doesn't come ready to spin.  I know it needs to be washed and carded right? (I mean I don't imagine sheep on ANY farm shower daily lol)  is there MORE to do to it b-4 it's ready to spin?  cuz if so I still might be better off ordering something ready to spin online.

thanks!
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« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2008 01:47:36 PM »

Drafting is the pulling of the fiber apart to spin it.  The more dense the fiber the harder to draft.  Many people find it easier to spin if they "pre draft" the fiber before they spin it..  therefore beginning to loosen the fiber, so that when they come to spin it, it pulls easier.  You draft the fiber to the thickness you want the yarn to be... and that is twisted into yarn...

As a new spinner (and know that I've only been spinning since august.. so I'm a new spinner too) my opinion is you'd be better off ordering some wool online to start with.  There are better wools to begin with than others because of their staple (lenght of fiber) length and their crimp (how much wave in the fiber)  the more crimp, the easier for the individual fibers to hold together-- and therefore needs less twist.  A number of folks have reccomended Blue Face Lesciter and corridale as good wools to start with.  they have nice staples and a  nice amount of twist.  Superwash merino has a shorter staple, so it pulls apart faster when you are drafting. 

It's best to learn one piece of the process at a time so you don't overwhelm yourself.  Learn to spin, then learn to process it....    I learned to spin first, and next I want to start dyeing.  I want to learn to process when I can afford a nice pair of carders...

Have fun!!!
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« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2008 06:18:56 PM »

Lots of great info here I've been lurking around the section for a few days now and I think I'm going to have to sneak a spindle into the house. I've already got a good amount of top as I've been needle felting for a couple of months now, but I can see I'm going to want much much more.

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Miihamara
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2011 03:04:58 PM »

ooh that was exactly the questions I had except one.

is the bottom whorl spindle better then the top whorl spindle or the other way around?
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nikschaf
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2011 07:13:31 AM »

I've only used a top-whorl spindle, so can't really answer your question.  Just wanted to say you don't have to commit to just one or the other when you get your first spindle.

I have a Babe spindle, which just by sliding the whorls to the top, middle, or bottom of the dowel, you can have a top, middle, or bottom whorl spindle.  You can also use just one whorl for a lighter spindle, or both whorls for a heavier spindle.  The Babe spindles are only about $8, so a very reasonable price point.  Here's a link:  http://www.babesfibergarden.com/index.php?page=shop.product_details&product_id=95&flypage=flypage.tpl&pop=0&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1

If you've watched any of The Art of Megan drop spindle videos on youtube, she uses a Babe spindle, so you can see it in action.

A homemade CD drop spindle could also be adjusted to be a top, middle, or bottom whorl in the same way.  I made a couple of CD drop spindles for the heck of it.  They spun pretty well, but the Babe spindle is definitely sturdier.
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