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My Spinning Wheel

I got a spinning wheel a month ago for my birthday.

It's a "Joy" model, made by Ashford, and I bought it used at my local yarn shop.

The Ashford Joy is one of the most popular spinning wheel models made, and almost everyone who spins has used one sometime. I've heard it likened to a Honda Civic in the sense that it's a ubiquitous entry model.

I choose it because it offers four different gear ratios, it's portable, I knew I would be able to get parts for it, and, well, it was available.

I have never spun before. I have read books, watched videos, spoken with spinners--but never actually tried to spin, or even touched a spinning wheel.

So I bought some wool rovings in blue and purple to practice with. I first tried to spin directly from the roving. I couldn't draft fast enough, and ended up with a length of pretty fat yarn. So I separated the roving into narrower lengths, and pre-drafted it, but, still, couldn't draft fast enough, and my yarn was too fat.

My next approach was to get a pair of carders and card my angora fiber; Clover and Bruno had been giving it to me quite generously. I rolled the batts into rolags, and found I could draft pretty well off of those. Now the problem I encountered was that angora is notoriously hard to spin; it has a short staple, and the fibers are slippery. My yarn kept breaking.

Back to the drawing board. My next attempt was to card the angora and the wool together and make little rolags of the blended fibers. It worked! I could draft with a short draw steadily and evenly, and spin a skinny little singles yarn!

After I filled a bobbin with my blend of blue wool and angora, I spun a bobbin of the purple wool blended with angora. Then I plyed them together. Plying was fun and fast. I had been worried that I had too much twist in my singles since the threads twisted back on themselves so strongly. When I plyed, though, the singles could twist on each other instead, and they formed a happy length of yarn.

I fashioned a niddy-noddy from some spare PVC pipe we had around the house, and wound my first skein of yarn. It's almost 3 ounces and 86 yards. It's also really uneven, with all of the lumps and bumps that characterize homespun.

I'll probably make myself a hat.

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