Thursday, 13 October 2011

Of Spindles and Frankenyarn

One of the things I bought at Alexandra Palace was a spindle and some orange and red roving wool for spinning. This week, I sat down and tried to have a go at spinning.

And for about 20 minutes, I thought I'd be sold a useless stick. It didn't work. Nothing happened. The spindle didn't spin, the wool didn't wrap round it without falling off, and none of the youtube videos showed a spindle that looked anything like mine! Then I remembered that I didn't learn to knit in 20 minutes (I'm approaching 16 years on that skill and still learning), stopped pouting, started rummaging through youtube again, sat down, and learnt to spin.

The video that cracked it for me eventually was this one. It was that one that taught me that my spindle was called a low whorl spindle, and that it not having a hook on the top was not the end of the world, it meant I just had to tie a half hitch at the top to stop the yarn jumping off. 

Spinning is pretty relaxing when you get into it, after the initial frustration of "why isn't this working URGH I would make a terrible Celt" (FUN FACT- as a kid I wanted to be Boadicea for a bit. I liked the idea of living in a roundhouse and wearing a lot of wool and having deadlocks. Not much of that part has changed). Your first yarn will be awful- thick, thin, prone to super coiling back on itself- this is just the nature of spinning.

The next thing I need to do it ply it, because you can't knit with a single like this. So my option is to cut this in half and ply it back on itself, or spin some more. I need to get some more roving so I can spin some more, obviously! But I'm on a spending hiatus after burning through my cash like there's no tomorrow paying for train tickets, food and everything else, so it will have to wait for now.

Excitingly, there's the option to prepare my own fleece in the not too distant future. One of the girls on my BA course knows a flock of sheep (I think her family like own the whole county or something) and said she would probably be able to get me a whole fleece for very little money. She offered me gross sheep butt fluff in the mean time, but oddly enough, I turned it down.

Until then, my parents have gone off to Wales with a sandwich bag and strict instructions to pick up any wool they find on barbed wire while frolicking round the countryside.


  1. Hi Ru! I found your blog through GRS, you were commenting there. I like your blog and i thought i should say hi.
    i kind of relate to what your writing about.. I dont do ceramics but i am a moderately good glassblower. i knit, crochet, stitch and sew (but not quite as much as you) i bake and i even prefer bar soap to the liquid stuff (but not to the extent as you :-)
    anyways its fun to read about your projects.
    best wishes!

  2. Thanks for your kind words and wishes x
    I am actually very interested in glass, because it's so close to ceramics and because it's just so ethereal and strange- strong yet fragile, translucent, reflective, generally beautiful. When you hold an old blown piece of glass in your hands, you are holding the breath of history (or the breath of a dead man. Who may have had some horrible disease).

    Is there anywhere I can see some of your glass pieces?

  3. :-)

    I am on flickr

    i went to an art school, other people from there do make art, i prefer functionality.

  4. Wow, beautiful! The pilgramage decoration reminds me of tree rings.

    I agree with you on functionality versus art. Art for the sake of art is awful and pointless the majority of the time. Sometime it can be thought provoking or awe inspiring but a lot of the time it's not.