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Handspun Scarf – Learning to Spin on a Drop Spindle

June 29, 2012

Laura’s Blog Entry

On my last birthday I had a dream. A dream of spinning my own yarn. I used my birthday money to buy a Schacht drop spindle, some fiber, and a book. fast forward to today and the dream has been realized!

The resulting yarn is an artsy, thick and thin bulky weight. I didn’t have the unreasonable expectation that I would achieve a lace weight yarn on my first attempt. I just went with the process to see what would happen. Basically I just wanted to get the feel of the spinning and understand how it worked.

I started with some really lovely olive hand-dyed fiber that was 100 % Bluefaced Leicester, or BFL for short, which is a breed of sheep. The staple length of the fiber is a bit longer than average, making it easier to work with for beginners.

I caught on pretty quickly, with the help of some Youtube videos. These are the singles, the individual strands of spun yarn before they are plied, or wound together with other strands to make a finished yarn.

The singles were relatively fine. Overspun, but fine. It was in the plying process that the yarn thickness went off course. In order to ply two strands into one you have to twist the strands together, in the opposite direction from how they were spun originally. Because I am doing this on a shoestring budget, I wound my singles into two balls, and used the same spindle to combine them. All well and good, except the singles started to unwind during the process. So I ended up with a looser, fatter yarn in the end.

Still rather attractive, but not what I thought I was going to get. No problem. I was going to make a simple scarf from it, so now I have a chunky scarf. Crisis averted!

I have since found a possible solution. I am winding my singles onto empty toilet paper tubes. I cut a little notch on one end and secured the yarn end there so it won’t unravel. Now I just have to rig up some kind of a mechanism with dowels and a shoe box for when I am ready to ply my next project. And there IS a next project in the works. More BFL, this time in a pale sea green/aqua. Delightful!

So here’s the finished scarf.

A little too warm these days to get someone to model it, so Miss Blossom had to do the honors.

TIP: The one thing that helped me the most was to pre-draft the fiber before trying to spin it. The fiber was very nice, but the result was so much better once I split the coil into thinner sections (about 4-6 times) to get a thinner piece. Then I loosened it up a tiny bit by pulling – see video below for a visual. Once I did this, everything went smoothly.

If you’ve ever wanted to try it, You can get started for a little over $40 for the spindle and fiber.

Here are a few links to some of the things I talked about above.

Schacht Spindle
I have the medium size, Hi-Lo Spindle. It has a 3” Whorl and weighs 2.2 oz. I purchased it from Webs. It is beautifully made, simple and well-balanced, which is key for successful spinning.

Briar Rose Fibers
BLF, 4 oz. Mine was color #328, which is no longer available, but here are some others to choose from.

The Art of Megan by Megan LeCore
Drafting

Spinning

 KnitPicks Kelly Petkun
Learn to Spin Yarn – Intro. to Drop Spindling Series

Hope I have enabled at least one person through this post! C’mon! You know you want to try it!

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