I have a confession. . . this is my Ashford Joy which hasn't seen the light of day in about a year. *sob* Why? You ask? Well, I bought the wheel early last spring, set it up & started trying to spin. It didn't happen. I couldn't get the hang of it. I don't think I had ever really seen a spinning wheel in action and I didn't even know where to start. Now I had gotten pretty good at using a drop spindle, so I said forget this wheel thing! I'm going back to my spindle!
A year passed. The Joy sat in my room in it's carrying case -- untouched & unloved. Then I went to MS&W. There was so much fiber! And I wanted to take home a huge bag, but I thought to myself -- how will you ever get that spun on your spindle? Oh yeah! I have a wheel! Maybe I should take it out again and give it another try.
I finally had a bit of free time yesterday, so I sat down with some lovely Cormo/Silk roving that I got from Foxhill Farm (at the Cormo booth at MS&W) and gave it a go. After a few mis-starts, I got in the groove and made this little skein. . .
Still a bit uneven (isn't that the whole point of handspinning though?), but much better. Here are a few things that helped me to love my wheel. . .
- Go slow! At first I was treadling like there was no tomorrow. I found that a nice slow pace was just what I needed. About one treadle (is that the right terminology?) per second was working for me yesterday.
- Learn about ratios! I was trying to spin this super fine Cormo & tussah silk blend at a low ratio. This meant fewer twists per inch (TPI) which would explain why the "yarn" I was producing wasn't holding together. When I switched to 16:1, it got much easier! Here's a page I found that explains a lot of different wheel terminology.
- Use a white towel! Use a what? You can see the white hand towel in my first photo, but maybe you were thinking it was just lying on the floor because I'm messy. Not so! I lay this on my lap so that I can see my drafting triangle more clearly. I was wearing a denim skirt and couldn't see how much I was drafting which resulted in very uneven yarn. The roving showed up beautifully against the white towel and my singles started to look much better.
- Use a leader that isn't smooth! Okay, this should have been a no-brainer, but I let myself get totally frustrated before figuring it out. The leader that I attached to my bobbin at first was a scrap of extra sock yarn. It was smooth, it had no "grip" and I couldn't get my fiber started. Ugh! I nearly tore out my hair trying to get this to work. Then the light went on in my noggin. I attached a piece of handspun for a leader and I was off!
So there's my confession. I'm glad I got past this and I'm learning to love my wheel. Last night I predrafted the rest of the Cormo/Silk and today I'm ready to spin:
After all, practice makes perfect!