Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Learning to use a Drop Spindle

My latest goal has been for some time to learn how to spin on a Drop Spindle.

I did tons of research on fibers, and drop spindles, and watched a LOT of videos on You Tube.

I found some combed top roving already dyed fibers for a decent price and purchased them.   I have since learned that a beginner should start with combed top roving when learning to spin.   I have read different things about what fiber is the easiest to learn with.  So far, the easiest fiber to spin has been merino wool.   I have enjoyed spinning bamboo as well.
I hope to learn how to spin using batts and using locks very soon.   But I think it would be helpful to you to see and learn a little about what each of the three are.

After the wool has been cleaned, it is carded; which opens the fibers and causes the fibers to be in random direction.  Depending on how that carded fiber is taken from the carding machine, it is roving or batt. If the carded fiber is combed by another machine to remove short fibers and align the fibers in the same direction , it becomes combed top.

Combed top:


Fiber Batt:
Autumn Breeze - Hogg Wild Fiber Batt - 3.8 Ounces / 108 Grams

Wool Locks:
Image of Evening Meadow - Dyed Border Leicester Locks 10 oz

I am sure there are other types of fiber that you can get, I am not sure if they can be spun or not.   As you can see I am still learning.

What about kinds of fibers?   There are so many fibers out there!  How do you know which ones to use?  Well there are a few things to consider.   Are you allergic to wool?  If so, you may want to spin alpaca, or bamboo, or cotton.  (I have only tried bamboo so far, and not totally sure how easy cotton is to spin, or even how to get a hold of cotton that I would like to spin -- still working on that.  
But even with wool there are many different types of wool.

Approximately 90 percent of the world's sheep produce wool. One sheep produces anywhere from 2 to 30 pounds of wool annually. The wool from one sheep is called a fleece, from many sheep, a clip. The amount of wool that a sheep produces depends upon its breed, genetics, nutrition, and shearing interval. Lambs produce less wool than mature animals. Due to their larger size, rams usually produce more wool than ewes of the same breed or type.
Fine wool sheep produce fleeces which usually have the greatest value due to their smaller fiber diameter and versatility of use. Garments made from fine wool are less likely to itch.
Because there are over 200 varieties of sheep and it can get a little confusing, I can tell you that so far, a fine merino and bfl (bluefaced leicester) are my favorite wools to spin.   Blue Faced Leicester is a longer stapled wool (the individual fibers are longer) which is fine enough for next-to-skin wear and very hard to felt.

What is a drop spindle?
A drop spindle is something used to spin yarn by hand, without the need of an actual spinning wheel.   Drop spindles are usually classified into bottom whirl, top whirl and navajo.  I have not had good success, yet, with a bottom whirl spindle, but I have not given up.  One day I would love to try the navajo spindle.  Most of what I have learned about spindles (and many other parts of spinning came from this amazing site: http://www.joyofhandspinning.com/spindle-types.shtml!

What helped me learn?
I want to share with you some videos that really helped me learn to use the drop spindle.

This has been the best video for me:

There are many more videos that I have watched, but this video is when everything finally clicked for me.

Where can I get a drop spindle?

Well now you know how I got started.  I hope you found this useful or at least informative.
I am going to get back to spinning, and designing.  Happy first day of Spring!

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