For ages I’ve had a hankering to learn to spin – not the exercise bike kinda spin, but spin yarn from sheep fleece. Last July I joined in Tour de Fleece and taught myself how to use a drop spindle. I had more or less decided to buy a wheel and learn that too.
My enquiries led me to Pam Austin’s Spinning School, and I was persuaded to try the beginner’s package rather than jump straight in and buy a wheel. For £80 you get a ‘how to spin’ lesson; then the loan of a wheel for a month, complete with plenty of fleece, carders and other necessary bits and bobs; then a second ‘how to ply’ lesson. After this you can continue to rent a wheel until you find the right one for you; or you can buy. Or not.
I had my first lesson with Pam a few weeks ago, and got photographed for her website too – thanks to Julie Walker for the picture:
So, the idea is that I spin up at least 2 bobbins, then return on 28th March for part 2. I’m so pleased I took up the beginner’s package because I’ve decided that this really isn’t for me at this point in my life. I like spinning, I’m not bad at it. But I do find myself saying ‘just 15 minutes, then you can pick up your knitting’. And a lot of the yarn that spinners seem to produce is of the variegated variety – lost of colour blending and pretty yarn. Now I’m not very arty (much more mathsy, if there is such a thing!), and I do like the pretty yarn. BUT I don’t like the finished objects it turns into – they’re all just a bit too hippy knit-your-own-yoghurt for my taste. And I am a product knitter – it’s the finished object that I covert and that’s why I do it.
Now I could spin plain coloured yarns (then combine them as I knit, using stranded colourwork techniques) – but I can buy these yarns. In fact, with a bit of care I can get local, or at least British, yarns quite easily – dyed or undyed. So I’ve decided not to buy a wheel right now. The time is better spent improving my knitting and sewing skills. And the money I’ll save can always be spent elsewhere (like the garden for example). I think there is a spinning wheel in my future – I’ll put it on my retirement list. So I’ll spin my 2 bobbin, and have my second lessons – then I can say ‘I can spin, but I don’t’.
Pam runs Woolly Days every month – I hope I’ll still be welcome, without being a spinner. Last month the focus was on knitted socks: