Posts Tagged 'Spinning'

Because I *needed* a new hobby

So I’ve taken up weaving. I actually bought my rigid heddle loom – a 15 inch Schacht Cricket – this summer, but a failed warping had me relegating it to the corner of my bedroom. After I confessed this sad state of affairs to my spinning group, one of the members promised to help me warp it, so I brought it to our monthly meeting on Thursday.


I warped it with the Brown Sheep yarn that came with the loom – not necessarily the colours I would have chosen together, but certainly an easy first project.

It’s pretty short, 5′ 5″, not particularly pretty, but a good learning project. The hem stitching had to be pulled out a couple of times, but even that came out ok in the end.

Woven scarf

I then moved on to the project I had seen in my mind’s eye when buying my loom – a scarf using my own handspun.

Woven scarf

This yarn is a two-ply superwash BFL, dyed by Allspunup (bought on Etsy). The colours are mostly blue and dark purple.

It isn’t by any means perfect – the edges pull in a little, as a result of my lack of experience with warping and maintaining equal tension. But I love it.

Woven scarf


I think I might come to like this weaving thing.



Sorry I’ve completely fallen off the face of the earth. For some reason, I haven’t remembered to get pictures of a lot of the stuff I’ve finished recently, so I’ve fallen out of the habit of blogging it. But here is a selection of stuff I’ve managed to both finish and photograph.

Wrap sweater of my own design:

Wrap sweater

Started sometime late spring, I finished early this summer, but it took some time before I put the i-cord ties on.

Yarn: Gjestal Østlandsgarn (I think)

One in a long line of baby gifts this year, finished in September:


Yarn: leftover Lana Grossa Cool Wool 2000 in #482

Pattern: Madam Møllers babysokkar from Strikk til nøstebarn.

I love the polkadot ribbon.


I got the very strong urge to spin just before we left for our summer holiday at the cabin in August. My wheel is much too big to take on holiday, so I brought my spindle instead. I haven’t spindle spun in a long time, but this was very nice. And I love, love the allspunup fibre that I spun.

A leftover that should have been blogged in May(!):

Same pattern as above (third pair this year, the first one is here), the yarn is Sandnes Garn Sisu Fantasy, colour #7648.

An investment

Slightly sooner than I thought, I’ve bought a spinning wheel. I had planned to buy a wheel around Christmas, and had my eye on a Louet Julia. However, the closer I got to actually having to make the purchase, the more I started second-guessing myself. What if I don’t like wheel spinning? What if I never have the time to sit down with the wheel? Close to 5000 kroner is a lot of money for something I don’t know if I’ll like.

So I’ve been monitoring the online for sale-ads, and I recently saw an ad for a used Ashford Traditional for about half the price of a new Louet. Its previous owner is a professional spinner and the wheel comes with both the normal flyer and bobbins and the jumbo set. I’m not a huge fan of novelty yarn, but I have heard that the jumbo set comes in very handy for plying, especially considering the tiny Ashford bobbins. I know that the Saxony models have a larger footprint than the castle ones, and I am a little concerned about storage space, but I’ll work something out. It will probably get here within a month (the seller does not want to ship it, which I understand, so she’ll bring it the next time she makes the three-hour trip). I’m really excited!

Getting back in the swing of things

Cross-continent moves are not to be taken lightly, I now understand. I cannot understand what possessed me to sign up for the Spinning Olympics. I didn’t even look at my spinning things while the Olympics were on – they were all securely packed in boxes that were far less important to unload than others – such as those containing our kitchenware and our clothes. Now, however, things are settling down just a little, and an event last Sunday reignited my interest in spinning.

Our local folklore museum held its annual(?) sheep-shearing day, and invited children to watch the shearing, then learn to dye, card and spin the wool. Unfortunately, my camera’s battery gave out after only the shearing, but we had a good time nonetheless.

Sheep shearing

I’m not so sure about the sheep, though. They had to be dragged reluctantly over to the little shearing platform, and whenever a new sheep was due to be sheared, the other ones circled it anxiously, looking an awful lot like a father-to-be in a delivery room:

Sheep shearing

Afterwards, we visited the workshop where kids learnt to card and spin wool. I was very happy to have my son with me, so I had an excuse to sit down and try the hand cards – a completely new experience to me. I didn’t do very well, and the instruction was less than perfect, but at least I tried it. And touching the wool and trying out the boat-anchor spindles reignited my enthusiasm, so I went and bought one of the hand spindles sold at the museum. Also, my mother-in-law recently gave me a pair of old hand cards, so I’ve been slowly getting back into the swing of spinning:

New hand spindle and new hand cards

I’ve bought some cheap wool in a grey heather, a brown heather and some solid colour red, and I’m experimenting with colour-blending through carding. I’m shooting for a tweedy yarn, and so far it’s not going so bad. I’ve looked up some carding videos online, and they’re more help than the museum demonstration.

Duh moment of the day

When plying, wrap yarn the OTHER way around the hook.

Spinning books: An attempt at a comparative review

Whenever I get a new obsession, I go book shopping. My book cases reflect an eclectic mix of intellectual interests going back to junior high, but lately, my crafting book purchases completely dominate. Since good spinning books are so hard to come by here, I buy them whenever I can find them, and as a result I have perhaps not been critical enough in my purchases. The below reviews are written very much from the perspective of someone who only uses drop spindles. Please keep that in mind!

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Maggie Casey: Start spinning: Everything You Need to Know to Make Great Yarn (Interweave Press 2008)

Lee Raven: Hands on Spinning (Interweave Press 1987)

I got Raven’s book first, and then when Casey’s book came out I heard so many good things about it that I got that one too, but I could definitely have made do with one of them. These are basic, introductory spinning books. Both cover the drop spindle and the spinning wheel, but both focus heavily on the latter. Raven’s book has mostly black-and-white illustrations, and not all essential steps are fully illustrated. On the other hand, Casey’s book has full-colour photographs showing every step of the process. While the chapter structure in Casey’s book is a little hard to grasp, the material covered in every chapter is very clear and easily understood. Raven’s book has five patterns (knit and weave) for handspun yarn, but the patterns clearly show their 80’s origin. Casey’s book instead has a small chapter devoted to pictures of projects using handspun. No patterns, but plenty of inspiration!

In conclusion: Either of these books would do very well if you want an overview of spinning with an emphasis on the spinning wheel. They’re not nearly as satisfactory for a spindle spinner, but will get you started. The Casey book has better pictures and a cleaner, more modern look, but if you can only find the Raven book it’s a reasonable substitute.

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Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts: High Whorling: A spinner’s guide to an old world skill (Nomad Press 1998)*

Connie Delaney: Spindle Spinning: From novice to expert (Kokovoko Press 1998)

*Please note that the Gibson-Roberts book has recently been updated and republished as a paperback under the title “Spinning in the Old Way”.

I’ve only recently received these books, so my review can’t do them justice, but I will point out that these are much better starting books if you think you will mainly use a spindle for your spinning. As the title suggests, Gibson-Roberts book is solely devoted to the magnificence of high-whorl drop spindles, and a very opinionated book it is, too. I like reading passionate and opinionated books, even if I don’t always agree, but keep that in mind about this book. It is useful for its discussion on spindle anatomy. Delaney’s book covers almost the whole world of spindle spinning: top whorl, bottom whorl, tiny support spindles and the large navajo spindle. Guides to making your own versions of these spindles are in there, as well beginner’s and advanced instructions. I especially appreciate the tips on increasing your spindling speed.

These are both good books for people primarily interested in spinning with drop spindles. They are both older books and cheaply produced, but both contain masses of interesting information and will be useful beyond the rank beginner stage.

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Deb Menz: Color in Spinning (Interweave Press 2005)

WOW! I love this book. The only word for it is exhaustive. I’m not good with colour and have never worked with colour theory before, but after reading the opening chapter in this book I got out my son’s paints and worked up some tints and shades. It covers the theory, the dyeing, the blending and the spinning of yarns for different colour effects. Arguably the best part of the book is the project gallery towards the back, where all the different techniques are displayed with a subtlety that is just stunning. There’s very little, if any, wheel-specific information in the book, and I’ll use it even for non-spinning projects, because of all the general colour theory in the book.

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Diane Varney: Spinning designer yarns (Interweave Press 2003)

I have a feeling I’ll come back to this book again and again as my spinning improves. It is packed with different techniques for making designer yarns, without being crazy novelty yarns like those in Pluckyfluff or Intertwined (not that there’s anything wrong with those yarns, they’re just not my style). While being opinionated, Varney gives a thorough introduction to the different techniques, how they look, what uses they are suited for and how they are executed. Although very inspiring and interesting, this book would have benefited greatly from an aesthetic overhaul with more colour pictures and more lavish illustrations.

Spindling resources

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I’m having so much fun learning to spin. I thought it might be a good idea to collect some resources for spindle spinning here, so that other aspiring spindle spinners would not have to do so much digging for themselves.

Starting points

The following sites are good starting points.

  • has a series of videos showing every step of the spinning process.
  • Joy of Handspinning has written instructions and a couple of videos devoted to spindle spinning.
  • Interweave Press’ Spin Off magazine has online guides to starting spinning with a spindle and making your own drop spindle with a CD.

Learn from the experts

Several spinning instructors blog about their knowledge. It can be challenging to navigate blogs and you won’t learn in a linear way, but there are tons of useful tricks here.

Online spinning mags

For features, tutorials and cool patterns to knit or crochet with your handspun, try these magazines:

Community Support

Once you start learning, you’ll want to talk about spindle spinning *all the time*. Save your family and friends – join a spindle group.

  • Ravelry has a great Spindlers group, with a very active group forum and great people. There is also a forum for beginning spinners (both wheel and spindle).
  • I’ve heard good things about Yahoo’s Spindlitis group, but haven’t joined it myself.


The ancient craft of spinning has certainly found its way onto the internet. Here are some places to go for spinning inspiration:

Do you know of spindle spinning resources that I haven’t included? Please, send me the link!