That thing I do

Been pretty quiet for a few days here, hasn’t it?

Yeah, well, so’s my house.  Quiet but for the sound of fireworks outside, Macbeth’s incessant mewing, and the whirrr-whirrrr-whirrr of A SPINNING WHEEL.

Yeah, bitches.  A spinning wheel.

You see, Kim is a very nice person.  Extraordinarily nice.  So a few weeks ago, when I spent an hour and a half at knit night watching her spin and asking dumb questions and doing my ‘Randy Quaid sees Wayne Newton’ face, rather than telling me to “go away, you weirdo” she actually offered to let me borrow one of her spinning wheels.

Fiber folk, I tell ya.  Entirely too nice.  (And that’s why I’m going to make a tally of every nice thing that a fiber folk has done for me, since I started wheel-spinning lo these 5 days ago.)

So a couple weeks after that, I brought my fiber basket to knit night, and she brought her Ashford Kiwi, and then she spent an hour and a half teaching me how to use it.(1)  And then she let me take it home.(2)  And then I fell in love.

(And next I’ll return it to her, and after that I’ll buy my own, and finally I’ll die of happiness).

Look! A spinning wheel!

Look! Me using a spinning wheel!

(Thanks, Kara, for taking the pics!)

It’s pretty much the awesomest thing ever.

(And let me tell you, it wasn’t embarrassing at ALL getting a spinning lesson surrounded by some of the best spinners I know.  Actually, it was just funny when I was working so slowly…laboriously…and from across the room Annie said – without even glancing up from her knitting – “you messed something up.  That sounds wrong.  Now fix it!”.  These people are entirely too skilled.  They’re, like, the fiber whisperers or something.)

So Kim showed me how to draft, and treadle, and what the various bits are – the flyer and orfice (hehehehe) and scotch tension and all that goodness.  And then we pulled out a two-colored scrap that Sandy had given me(3), and Kim made some excellent yarn with it, and then I made some exceptionally shitty yarn with it, and then Kara obligingly took pictures(4) of me making shitty yarn.


Oh yeah, that’s quality.

And so that’s how, on Wednesday night, I found myself temporary guardian of a spinning wheel:

Look! I am making a yarn!

That’s the Dyeabolical roving I got last March, which had been sitting in my basket being pretty ever since.

I made two bobbins of singles, and then I plied them to become A YARN.

Here’s an impressive photo if there ever was one:

Nothing better than a sinkful of fresh yarn!


On Thursday night I went to Rachel’s, where she loaded me up with a BUNCH of fiber from her own stash that she swore she didn’t want and would never spin(5), and I bought a GORGEOUS braid as well (one of these).  She also let me watch her spin artyarn (mad. skillz.), and gave me a mini-lesson in worsted vs. woolen yarn, and carding and combing.  I also got to see her dyeing area, AND got a sneak peek at the newest fiber club offering.*

And then I spent the next 80-ish hours spinning, sleeping, and eating Orville Redenbacher’s reduced-fat kettle corn.  In other words, livin’ it up.

Here’s my spinning basket:

The light blue stuff is some merino that Rachel gave me (there were ten 40-g knots, and I’ve already spun 6 of them…), the darker blue is what I linked above – a BFL superwash, the green/yellow Falkland is “Pot o’ Gold” by Rachel, and the multicolored is a merino (don’t remember the dyer, but the colorway is “Stained Glass”.  Perfect, or what?) that I picked up at Knitorious on Saturday.

(Oh yeah.  On Saturday morning I stopped into the shop to show off my newly-completed burgundy goodness, and to receive appropriate “Ooh”s and “Aah”s.  And then I bought the above “stained glass” fiber, and some yarn for a Christmas gift, and one skein of KPPPM for Hoopling leggings.  I should know better than to try and go to Knitorious without buying anything)

Here’s that Dyeabolical “Pot o’ Gold” un-braided:

At first I thought it would be a bit bright for my tastes, but that just shows how little I know about spinning fiber – it’s amazing to see the transformation from fiber to ply to yarn!

Bobbins full of brightness:

And then, after plying and soaking and air-drying…

Hot damn.

HOW does that work???  How does some awesomely-bright, vivid green and gold fiber turn into a much mellower green and gold yarn?

So, yeah.  That’s the third yarn I’ve ever made on a wheel, and look! it actually vaguely resembles something that someone might actually want to knit!  An accomplishment if there ever was one.

So yes, I’m addicted.  Since I took the picture above, I’ve spun up two more skeins of the light blue, as well as the aforementioned electric blue.  Will update tonight, if I remember.

I’ve also been doing a lot of thinking about wheel vs spindle. You may recall that I learned on a spindle (thanks Diana!(6)) about a year and a half ago, and while I’ve enjoyed taking the spindle out occasionally and fooling around with it, I always found it rather slow and laborious.  I also didn’t really have a good grasp of the mechanics, or any control over my output.  Using the wheel seems to actually help – it removes an element of confusion and gives more control, so now I have a better understanding of what actually happens when you turn fiber into yarn.  Now I’m really excited to get back to the spindle, and see how/if that’s improved as a result.  But I still definitely want to get a wheel of my own…someday 😉


(But I’ll always love knitting more)

PS> This is how Roxie spent the long weekend:

She’s a winter doggie, like her momma and dad.  Summer just takes it out of her, so she spent the whole weekend sacked out under an AC vent, getting up only to chomp on ice cubes and receive kisses and ear scritches from me.  To say she’s “not a fan of hot weather” would be an understatement.

PPS>All this spinning made my thumbs rather sore, which is not a good thing.  I think I got a bit overzealous, and need to tone it down just a bit.  So last night I sewed some buttons on a couple Hoopling sweaters, and tonight I’ll just spin a bit before returning to the Habu scarf I thoughtlessly abandoned last Wednesday.  I’d hate to mess something up and end up completely fiber-less!

PPPS>*SIX* counts of fiber-folk kindness.  Damn.  <3.

*All I have to say is:  DAMN.  Wish I’d been able to join!


12 responses to “That thing I do

  1. Wow!
    That yarn is awesome!

    And now I have to get me some Pot o’ Gold. LOL

  2. Wow, you learned fast. Your shitty yarn looks better than many folks regular yarn.

  3. You are a natural! I’d use that yarn for sure. Actually, my first lace weight yarn was spun from Dyeabolical Themesycra ( I always get the spelling wrong). I’m making my very first Entrelac scarf from it right now. She has some great colorways.

  4. Exceelat job! I agree with Sarah, you are a natural.

  5. I’m impressed!

  6. That’s a lot of Hooplingness….

    Also, to me (which isn’t saying much) your yarn looks really great and i imagine another few skiens and you’re officially great at spinning. 🙂

  7. oh my…kateohkatie=fiberawesomeness. Right up there with unicorns, rainbows and AMERICA.

    Makes me wish i was not studying for a pathophysiology test, but instead playing with yarn & being crafty. *sniff* *pout* 😉 really though, props to you! I’m definitely impressed!

  8. I think spindles are gateway drugs to wheels 🙂

  9. Ok, I confess, I’ve been a bad reader and not stopped by in like, FORVER, but I’m seriously impressed to come on over and find you’re spiining your own yarn!! That is so cool! And I’m just getting to grips with basic crochet, not even started to learn to knit…

    Been swooning over some of your wool pics though. 😀

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