Today I am going to tell you about my adventures in support spindling. At first I really could not get a handle on the technique needed to use a support spindle. I was pointed in the direction of a couple of groups on support spindling on Ravelry and got some great information that way. In particular I bought an e-book called Rookies Field Guide to Support Spindling. This is quite a short book, but it is written in plain language in a conversational style which makes it easier to digest. There is a group on Ravelry which was created by the author, which also gave me some good hints.
One of the key tips was to use long draw spinning to produce a woollen yarn and that way you have one hand free to manage the spindle. This seemed a great idea to me and I looked at lots of videos to try and learn how to long draw. I really struggled. This was a good video, done by the author of the book actually, though not actually of support spindling.
I sort of got the hang of it. My main problem was that when I pulled my hand back to perform a long draw it would pull the spindle over. This is obviously why you need one hand to control the spindle. It was very slow going but I managed to produce some yarn, using this technique.
That picture is from my daily updates to Ravelry for the Tour de Fleece. Spinning woollen using long draw meant producing much finer yarn. I'm not sure if having very fine yarn at the moment is useful. I have plenty of lace yarn in my stash! I was progressing slowly trying to learn how to do long draw and how to use a support spindle when I started looking at the Support Spindlers group on Ravelry. They have a thread of useful videos. In that thread I found the video that made everything click into place for me. This one by elariel.
This video showed someone doing worsted spindling on a support spindle and I already know how to do that, because that is what I do on my rakestraw spindle. When I started using these technique things just clicked into place for me. What I was doing was starting to look more closely akin to what the fabulous fleegle does in her Tibetan Spindling video, which is also worsted spinning by the looks of things.
This is the video that made me want to use a support spindle. It just looked so smooth and most importantly quick! I am no where near that good but what I am now doing looks like one day, with enough years of practice I might be able to do what is being shown! YAY!!
So once I had got to a stage where I thought I could spin reasonably consistently I decided to try a little pack of pretty I got sent with my recent Hilltop Cloud order (yes I bought more fibre, it's the Tour de Fleece, what did you expect?). This little pack of sparkly lovliness is a blend from her Queens Collection and this one is called Katherine of Aragon.
This is what I produced from my fluff.
I'm going to leave it to rest for 24 hours before plying it to see what it looks like. I shall place it on a straw, like this:
Isn't this a clever idea? It was a tip I got from the Must Stash Podcast. Essentially when your spindle is full, you slide a straw down onto the shaft as far as it will go and then slide the cop (the spun yarn) up onto the straw. It is seamless. You then can slide the straw onto a lazy kate for plying, no need for re-winding. I wish I could do that on the rakestraw. Hmmm, maybe I could slide it onto a ruler and stick metal spikes on each end..... the mental cogs are whirring now. Anything to save effort is good in my book.
So once again it seems I am learning so much from kind and generous people online, who share their knowledge and expertise, in either podcast, video, blog or simple comments on Ravelry. Thank you people of the craft community - you rock!
Oh and while I'm talking about spinning, I've been playing with some BFL and ramie from Hilltop Cloud on my rakestraw. It's soooooo pretty! It's a lot more sticky to spin than anything I've spun before, but that might be because of the heat we've been experiencing over the weekend. I'll tell you if it still is sticky when the temperatures inevitably falls again.
It's very soothing to spin on the rakestraw after struggling to get my head round the Tibetan spindle. It's also nice to be able to work on more than one project at a time. I can see why people end up with multiple spindles.