Spinning, Part I (Monday, July 16)

Spinning is harder than it looks! This week consists of a five day workshop on beginning spinning at The Spinner’s Loft. Leslie Hauck is the instructor and I am sharing the class with a Paula from Ottawa.

Leslie’s studio

The view from the studio.

The first morning we started about 9:30 with “oily” wool (not washed) and hand carding. First you pick, or tease, the wool apart using your fingers. Then you use the hand carders to tease out the wool some more and shape it into rolwags (rolls of wool ready to spin). After we had about four rolwags, we started using the drop spindle. You put a “leader” of yarn on the spindle, then you feed the wool from the rolwag into the twist created by the spin and weight of the spindle to make yarn. The hardest part is coordinating your hands so that your left hand controls the rate of twist while your right hand “drafts” (pulls apart) the rolwag in preparation for spinning. Then we started all over by carding washed wool and spinning it on the hand spindle.

Using the drop spindle. One of the hardest things for me is that because of my lack of height I have to stop spinning frequently to wind the yarn.

While we worked with the drop spindles, Leslie gave us some background info about the history of spinning. Spinning wheels evolved from the drop spindle.

The walking wheel turned the spindle on its side and used a wheel to make it rotate, but required the spinner to stand to turn the large wheel and spin the wool.

This type of wheel allows the spinner to sit and turn the wheel with a foot treadle.

Finally we started using the spinning wheels. I discovered my Majacraft Rose was a bit too much of a wheel to begin on. It spun so fast that I was getting too much twist and wound up with a huge mess on the bobbin.


So Leslie let me use her wheel to begin.

Trying to get the hang of it on Leslie’s wheel.

After much frustration and practice, I began to get a glimmer of what I was supposed to do. My first bobbin of yarn was very “slubby” or unevenly spun, with big clumps of loose wool and some really skinny yarn. But I was making progress!

Left to right: drop spindled oily wool, drop spindled clean wool, nicely spun yarn (not mine), big mess from my wheel.

My first wheel-spun skein.

Finally, we stopped for the day around 4:30.

Not only am I taking Leslie’s workshop, but I am staying in her B&B. This is not an American style B&B with whirlpool tub, private bathroom, and inn-like setting. This is more like an English or European bed and breakfast, where you get a bed and breakfast in the host’s home. Think quirky knick-knacks, bright colors, real seashell soap dishes, and mostly-organic cooking.

View from my room

My room.

Louie (left) and Gargamel. Gargamel is polydactyl – he has an extra toe on each of his front paws.

1 Comment

Filed under Spinning, Travel

One response to “Spinning, Part I (Monday, July 16)

  1. Leslie

    The sausage shaped carded mass of wool is called a rolag — not rolwag…

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