The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home

Unexpected spinning joys

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A few years ago my poet cousin gave me a quotable card that lives on my bulletin board.  One simple line from H. Jackson Brown Jr.:

May your life be crowded with unexpected joys.

That’s exactly how my spinning feels now-a-days.  The plan this winter was simple – I wanted to meet other handspinners.  Based on a niggling feeling that I needed some good direction.  I was (and am) at this point of consistently making lace-weight on my spindles but that’s not all there is to spinning (to say the least).

Overcoming my shyness this early on has been a very, very good idea!  The people that I am meeting are spinning gurus in their own right, and to my surprise they are giving me all sorts of positive feedback.  Here I was all braced for hearing that I strayed down some strange paths.  Instead I am getting kudos for making yarn solo with just the internet & books.  What can I say?  I am nothing if not stubborn!

Several weeks ago I posted about ordering my very own copy of the Bellwether’s new book on spindling.  It came in the mailbox just on the edge of our house becoming flu central.  Autographed by the Bellwether herself with a message if you please!

To paraphrase her sub-title:  it an [affordable] 21st century look at spindle methods that has boosted my confidence!  Apparently I have been spindling rather productively thanks to the excellent folks answering stupid questions over in Ravelry fora!   The book is available on the Bellwether’s website here.  Which is to say that it’s not in mass-distribution.

Remember my the-dog-ate-my-skein merino?  It’s all spun to 3-ply yarn now.  Here’s the last of the lot:

I am still working out what I could make but here’s what I have to hand:

Three sister skeins of pink merino with artfully placed strands of dog fur… hmmm…

The biggest unexpected joy?  This week out of the clear blue this baby was offered on loan to me:

I shouldn’t say baby – it’s a 1980s era Wee Peggy wheel made by the late John Rappard in New Zealand.  She’s very light but sturdy, and is very much charming the socks off of me.  But:

  • She lacks a drive band (important) and a brake spring for scotch tension (also important to my way of thinking);
  • My wheel spinning experience is basically nil and;
  • I am not mechanically inclined.  Sewing machines kinda scare me.

Having a wheel in the house was just way too sweet to make such minor things bother me!  Armed with Maggie Casey’s Start Spinning, I improvised my way to using Miss Peggy.  It was like comparing apples with oranges – Maggie Casey’s pics are all of modern wheels & I’m working with vintage.   DH is highly amused at the efforts by the way.

Around dinnertime, I had tied a DK weight cotton yarn on for a drive band, and another bit was with a rubber band hoping to serve as scotch tension.  Yah, not!  It made yarn fine enough but I soon realized it wasn’t winding onto yonder bobbin for love or money.

A short foray on the internet got me going again though.  Praise be to Abby Franquemont’s article Choosing your first Spinning Wheel here. I read it some time ago but then only skimmed through the spin tech.  Well, last night those passages made all the difference in figuring out Miss Peggy.  Resulting in a new scotch tension rigging:

Sheer stubbornness paid off!  This configuration actually worked.   Accolades for Abby.  Seriously!

Connecting the knob for scotch tension - aha!

The wheel was sitting unused in the owner’s basement, so she needs a proper oiling.  I’ll be out getting a maintenance kit later today, and Miss Peggy will have her TLC.  The yarn on the bobbin is some of my BFL combed wool, and the gray Romney.

I thought that I wanted an all-purpose modern first wheel.  Was I wrong?  Maybe I want a light upright from the hey day of a production line that ended 10 years ago on the death of the maker…  Here I am naming the thing, fixing it up, and walking around giddy-headed…  Stranger things have happened & I certainly have lots to think about.  She would come with 4 bobbins (only 2 are shown in the pics).

Anyhow, for now I’m just enjoying all of these unexpected spinning joys – in February of all months!

Author: iriegemini

Lara lives in the Greater Toronto Area with N, their young son, T, and Melly cat. Starting with knitting as a newcomer from Kingston, Jamaica, Lara learned to spin, prepare fibre, dye & weave. A spindle is usually close to hand.

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