Hand Spun Yarn

What does it take to decide that a hobby has now become a passion? I first discovered crochet about 2 1/2 years back. I had a lot of free time on my hands and it filled a need. I bought a how-to book, hooks and some very cheap yarn then poured a cup of coffee and opened up YouTube. I made mistakes, of course. I invented new stitches and techniques that I’m pretty sure should never have existed in the first place. I became a master at pulling out stitches by the row but as I perfected each new technique I pushed myself to learn new ones. While I am still learning I have developed a confidence in my skills and I still love it. This is the longest hobby I have ever managed to keep, which is saying quite a lot for me! Even with my wrist limiting the amount of time I can work on my projects I sneak in an hour here and there to feed the addiction.

With growing confidence in my skills I have been more and more willing to branch out and try the more unique, and expensive, yarns. At the Renaissance Festival this year I couldn’t keep myself away from the hand spun yarn booths and now I have a few new additions to my ever-growing stash. Hand spun yarn?! That is still a thing? It most certainly is and the only real surprising thing is that I didn’t know this sooner. In fact, at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival you did not just have the opportunity to buy hand spun yarn but there was a group actually demonstrating the technique with drop spindles and antique wheels. The Institute of Historic and Education Arts (IHEA) focuses on a variety of traditional arts done in the traditional ways. This includes carpentry, chain mailing, blacksmithing and a variety of fiber arts (looming, spinning, weaving, etc.) to mention a few. They don’t just do demonstrations, they teach these arts as well and are always looking to bring new members into the fold. Clearly it was a sign that it is time for me to learn how to make yarn for myself.

My first attempt at a spinning wheel

My yarn from a spinning wheel

It is with this group last weekend that I learned the basics to a new skill I will add to my arsenal. We spent Saturday at the festival grounds with the sounds of carpenters diligently shaving and shaping their wood, the smell of a forge and the feel of a crisp Autumn day. I put my partially frozen hands to a drop spindle and instantly fell in love. I had a bag of wool and before I knew it that wool looked like yarn. I did that! We progressed to the spinning wheel and I discovered what Zen feels like. Sure, my yarn came out chunky but you know some people pay extra for that! These are little things that don’t matter to me since that consistency will come with practice. What I loved was the feeling that I could make something from the very beginning to the very end. I can take fiber directly from a sheep, or another source, and turn it into something tangible like a hat, a scarf, a blanket or a toy. It is incredibly empowering and eye-opening. I made the promise to myself to spin on the drop spindle for a month or two before looking into the acquisition of a wheel to perfect the basic techniques. I wanted to share with you my work from this weekend and I move forward in this adventure I will surely be adding more posts on this topic.

Have any of you taken your love for fiber to the next level and tried your hand at spinning? What tips do you have for those of us just starting out?

3 Responses to “Hand Spun Yarn”
  1. ilikecolours says:

    I love how you write so enthusiastically about fiber! I agree, there is something very special about taking it from the sheep to your finished object 🙂 I think when you are starting out with something, anything, it helps to have that love for it there to begin with. And then everything will come with practice, like your crochet. But practically I would say, try not to overwhelm yourself. Maybe start out with the drop spindle and do little and often. Choose things that interest you i.e a particular fiber, or some different colours, and if you’re getting frustrated with one thing, switch to another thing. Oh, and to not go nuts on expensive fiber when you first start cos it might put pressure on you to sort of ‘get it right first time’ if you get what I mean! But more importantly enjoy what you’re doing! It’d be cool to learn in a little group like you said, for support and stuff 🙂

    • EverydayPam says:

      Thank you for this advice! It is definitely good reminder to stay grounded. Whenever I start something new I find myself daydreaming grand visions of things I can do completely skipping that part where I have to learn it first. 🙂

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