Getting in a Spin

Getting in a Spin

Creative Fibre in New Zealand are hosting a series of workshops next weekend, one of which is a beginner’s spinning workshop with Pat Old. She is quite the celebrity in NZ spinning circles but I’m not sure if that is also true internationally…. have you heard of her before?

I dithered about signing up for this class because one of the prerequisites was that you need to bring a wheel in good order, bobbins and lazy Kate. I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to learn to spin and buying all that equipment up front was quite an investment, so I put out some feelers to see if anyone had a wheel they would like to sell. I was (and still am) keen to make art yarns so was ideally looking for a wheel with a jumbo flyer. It took a few weeks of asking around but a friend from Auckland Fun Felters came through for me, she had an Ashford Traditional and best of all, it was already fitted with a jumbo flyer! 🙂

I took delivery of my new toy at the end of May and have been watching far too many Youtube videos ever since 🙂 These are my first efforts….

Autumnal colours spun from a Merino art batt full of textured bits and pieces, probably a bit ambitious for a first go but I was pleased with the results:

Aoifa says it makes a very nice pillow…

After reading Ann’s post on FFS a few weeks ago I had a shock of inspiration and added some orange to the singles I planned to ply post dying with purples and blues:

This is the plied yarn:

After plying I had some “single” left over on one of the bobbins so thought I would have a go at chain-plying (apparently it’s not very PC to call it Navajo plying any more). This method produces 3-ply yarn and in theory you can line up the colours on a gradient dyed yarn so you loose the stripy, “barber-pole” effect. I succeeded in places but definitely need more practice!

I am really enjoying spinning with Polworth (a Merino-cross breed that is better suited to the wet NZ climate), it is a lovely, soft wool. I crocheted this cowl but was not keen on the hot pink.

So I over-dyed it with blue:

One month into my spinning journey, a beginners class in Auckland came up so I toddled along with a friend (Margaret) who was curious but not really interested in taking up spinning (she couldn’t knit or crochet). They gave us some mystery brown and white wool to play with, I am pleased with the results but it is very coarse, too coarse for anything wearable so I am crocheting it into a bowl.

Margaret ended up buying the wheel she had been practicing on in the class (from the same person who sold me my wheel, I am starting to imagine Shirley has a house full of wheels that she has to climb over to move between rooms) 🙂 Margaret is also learning to crochet now she is enjoying spinning – another convert to the wonderful world of fibre!

I have also been playing with making slubby and chunky yarns and then dyeing it:

I found a few books on spinning at the library, the first one I read, Hand Spinning by Pam Austin was a bit disappointing, it didn’t cover anything I hadn’t already learned from watching YouTube videos. Frustratingly it mentioned a limited selection of art yarn types but didn’t offer any information on how you might spin them.

I found Spinning and Dyeing Yarn much more useful, jam-packed with technical, how-to information and lots of drool-worthy photos of beautiful yarns by different artists to give the reader inspiration and something to aspire to. For me, I was very taken with the art yarn chapter – I had no idea there were so many different species of art yarn and for each one there is at least one page explaining how to create it yourself.

I have only just started reading Yarn-i-tec-ture but I find the concept behind it intriguing, that you can spin a yarn with exactly the properties (stretch, warmth, shine etc) and colours you want…. Can’t wait to see if it delivers on that promise 🙂

I had to share these with you, there are several of them along the Wellington waterfront, they were very popular for selfies so I only managed to get photos of two of them but they are so cool I just had to share. Something for me to aspire to on my learning to knit journey! 🙂

Following several requests, I have posted my Concertina Hat and Snail Hat tutorials on Etsy. If you enter code FAFS30 (before the end of July) you will receive a 30% discount at check out. Alternatively, if you prefer a more interactive learning experience, the full online course, including the “taking it further module”, will be starting again in October, for more information and to sign up for notifications when registration opens please follow this link. Or for the bag class this link.

16 thoughts on “Getting in a Spin

  1. Teri, you look like a pro spinner already, way to go. And glad that you found the type of wheel that you wanted. That’s important to have the right equipment. The mini book reviews are also great for people wanting to learn more about spinning. I love the yarn bombing and I’m sure you will create a wonderful addition to the yarn bombing movement in the future. I look forward to seeing more spinning endeavors and your venture into knitting.

    1. Thanks Ruth, I am a fan of yarn bombing too, it makes me smile to think of middle-aged ladies graffiti-ing lampposts and benches with their knitting / crochet 🙂

  2. Aoifa is beautiful, but definitely keeping an eye on you in case you want to repossess your yarn. (How do you pronounce her name?)
    I wonder why it is not pc to refer to Navaho plying any more – if that is the way the Navaho people did their plying I don’t see anything derogatory in calling it that. I think it’s the best way to ply space dyed or art yarns, because I am definitely not a lover of barber pole yarns.
    With regard to two ply yarns, I don’t know if you are “Z” spinning your first singles yarns and then plying “S” (which is the way most people are taught to start with) but you may find that your crocheted work will have a better finish if you do it the other way round. That is spin S and ply Z. Most crochet stitches put in more Z twist so with conventional Z spun S plied two ply yarns – even commercially spun ones – tends to un-ply the yarn.

    1. Aoifa = eee-fa (say “E for elephant”) and you will be very close, she is grey and very tubby so an appropriate name I think! 🙂

      I’m not sure why the term Navajo plying is seen as poor taste, in the intro to one of the videos I watched, the presenter apologised for calling chain plying Navajo plying, apparently some viewers had complained….

      I had come across the advice to spin CCW for crochet but had thought that only applied if you plan to crochet with singles, I had assumed that plying would overcome that issue… I sense some test samples are due…

  3. [Sorry, pressed the wrong button.]
    What I was trying to say is that crochet will un-ply a two ply yarn unless it is spun S and plied Z. I first noticed this years ago and it is now becoming more widely known. You can apparently now purchase Z plied commercial yarns specifically for crochet.
    Over here (UK) the spinning guru was Mabel Ross. Between 1980 and 1988 she published The Essentials of Handspinning, The Essentials of Yarn Design for Handspinners, The Encyclopedia of Handspinning and Handspinner’s Workbook: Fancy Yarns. They contain a lot of detail on how to do it and get the same results each time, but all a bit too technical for me when I was spinning all those years ago. This was before I realised that it was a darn sight quicker to make something in felt, than to spin the yarn and then knit, crochet or weave it.

    1. I used to crochet quite a lot – I can’t knit, at least if I drop a stitch (and I usually do) I have to go right back to the beginning and start again because I can’t manage to pick up stitches without getting it wrong – so I’ve given it up. As I say I crocheted everything and I definitely unplied my 2 ply yarn while doing it. So far as I can recall it didn’t happen, or wasn’t so obvious, with Navajo plied yarns – nor with Tunisian Crochet now I come to think of it.

  4. Teri,
    You’re way beyond me in the spinning world. I have an electric spinner with the jumbo setup, but so far I haven’t gotten the mojo for spinning. However, I am not dead yet!

    What I would like in a Fantasy Spinning Class, is to learn just enough basic spinning, to move into art yarn spinning. Everyone tells me that normal spinning classes teach the “arty” part out of you. I’m particularly interested in spinning on a core of wire. I have seen some beautiful jewelry pieces done that way. And, since this is my Fantasy, I also want to learn the super chunky (ripple) yarn on the cover of the book, you showed (before?) Yarnitecture.

    I’m so glad you’re offering e-books for those who want them. But, Brian and I got so much from your full-on Concertina Hat class, I can’t imagine not getting all the information covered in the class. The following words are meant for your readers to chuckle at:

    “The extra photos and class information, might be particularly helpful, if you are going work on hats with an engineer.😂” Engineers tend to read the instructions from a technical perspective, rather than an art perspective… Our first hat fabric was so thick, it couldn’t be folded, as instructed. We ended up with a highly decorated “cone head/dunce cap” structure.” [It was totally worth the loss of wool, and silk, to prove myself.] Brian recently cut the fabric to make insoles for his favorite slippers. 🤭

    I hope I made every reader laugh…it was quite a sight.

    1. Capi, if you look for a book called Spin Art by Jacey Boggs, she teaches how to do art yarns beautifully. The book I own also comes with a DVD, so that’s super useful! I own her classes on Craftsy and LOVE them.

    2. I am soooo jealous Capi, you have reached the pinnacle of my spinning aspirations – a jumbo e-spinner, WOW!!!! I can’t believe you aren’t using it every day!

      I am with you on the art yarn classes, I have heard several people say the same, the longer you practice “normal” spinner the harder it gets to make art yarns.

      I think the image you are drooling over is a core-spun yarn, not too dissimilar to spinning over wire, although I imagine spinning on wire is challenging because it is so slippery.

      Thank you for your kind feedback on the concertina hat class, I agree, the opportunities to learn and take your hat designs in new directions in a supported way are greater in the online class but I know some people just want to work solo and don’t want to wait for the next class to start.

  5. Welcome to the world of spinning, Teri! 😀 It’s so addictive. Soon you’ll be wanting to add curls and beads to your yarn, oh my! There’s so much to create with in art yarns. Your yarns look great so far, I can’t wait to see what you make in years to come 🙂

    1. Thanks Leonor, I confess I am already watching videos on how to add beads…. 🙂

  6. Teri, I take my hat off and bow down before you! I am in awe of your spinning skills. Love the colours and the blending – all of it.

    Aoifa is a cool lady and quite obviously a fan of your work. She has grown up into a gorgeous kitty. The Wellington Waterfront yarn bombs are super and must attract lots of admirers.

    I have advertised your etsy tutorials on Instagram – I hope lots of people avail of your wonderful teaching.

    1. Thank you so much for the promo on Instagram, much appreciated!

      I am sue the experienced spinners can see room for improvement in my skeins, but I’m happy with my first efforts and that’s always the way with learning any new craft eh? 🙂

    1. Thank you ladies, I can so see you two bombing the south coast with felt! 🙂

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