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Day two, in London



If Saturday was hustle and bustle, meeting new and familiar faces, and laughing til my cheeks ached, Sunday was its counterbalance; a quiet day spent in the best possible company and learning a new skill/reason for stash.

I’ve known for a while that spinning and me was a when not an if; when I was a little girl, maybe about eight years old, I remember collecting the wisps of wool from the gorse bushes and barbed wire fences on our cliff top walks with the express design of using it to make my grandmother a pair of gloves for Christmas. I filled my cagoule pocket but never saw the little fluffy locks again after we returned home so I suspect that either (a) there is a very sheepy waterproof somewhere in my parents house or (b), the more likely option, my mother decided that they weren’t quite the thing for gloves and disposed of them.*

More recently on a long walk in May I found I was absent-mindedly collecting fleecy chunks and winding them together as I walked, so when I saw that Alice of Socktopus was running a beginner spinning class I knew it was time.

The class is split over two days to allow us time to practice in between; lesson 1 was yesterday and lesson 2 is next Sunday both taught by Diane Mullholland who, besides being an excellent teacher, also designed the fabulous mosaic socks that were parcel number 3 of the Socktopus sock club.

Taking our first tentative steps towards spinning we tried rolling our Blue Faced Leicester combed top between our fingers; it does make yarn but only very slowly. Next was the ‘park and draft’ method where each action is separate – put some twist into the yarn by spinning the spindle, then jam it between your knees and let the twist run up the drafted fibre. It’s a little like having stabilisers on your bike; you won’t fall off because it’s harder to drop the spindle, but you can’t go quite as fast either.

Diane came round with a spanner before we paused for lunch to take those stabilisers off and get us going on the real thing, spinning and drafting together. I’m amazed at how quickly it all came together once my brain worked out what my hands needed to be doing.

I know that when I started letting the spindle go I kept thinking that it would be OK if I couldn’t do this, I knew how to park and draft and that would take care of the roving that fell into my bag at Iknit. Having spun yesterday for all that time in London, for another couple of hours in the evening and a couple of hours tonight I can tell that it is all coming together and I am happily drop spindling away at every opportunity. It is already starting to move into the ‘less thinking, more doing’ category which I find so relaxing. Diane’s top tip – to twist the fibre as you release your pinch to get it going in the right direction – reminds me so much of the little flick you give to rope when you coil it to help it lie flat and I’m only dropping the spindle on very rare occasions.

To round off the day we plied our yarn back on itself and learnt how to finish/block/set/ it (help! someone please let me know what the correct word is). So would you like to see? I spun all of this in London and then finished it off with a little soak, a little blocking and a few thwacks against the kitchen cupboard when I got home:
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Some of it is clearly chronically underspun and it all fluffs up on washing just to accentuate that lack of spinning but there are bits that are undeniably yarn and which I am very pleased with.
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The fifth strand from the left for example.

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I have medium sized hands if that helps for scale. I like most of the strands in this shot although in the interests of full and frank disclosure I should tell you that I tucked a few dodgy ones underneath the others.

I hereby name this yarn: First Handspun of Cariemay. All hail First Handspun!

The week’s homework from Diane is to continue spinning in preparation for our trying out different fibres and a wheel next Sunday so I have made inroads into our practice fibre (more BFL) comme ca:
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I think I’ve spun the same again this evening so my prep is well in hand. I also have some very pretty pink and white merino that I’d like to try out. Yes, I admit it, I’m hooked (or rather, spun).

I can see when so many new spinners suddenly need more than one spindle – given that I never work on only one pattern at once it would be overly optimistic to expect me to be able to keep to just the one fibre, wouldn’t it?

* I did make the gloves, but they were for me, in dark blue wool with a white snowflake on the back of the hand and they were knit ENTIRELY on straight needles!