A Beginner Takes the Spindle

Today we continue our spinning blog posts as part of the Tour de Fleece. Today’s post is brought to you by one of our members, Jaclyn Allen.

I might be best described as a “fair-weather” spinner. Not because I only spin when the sun shines, but because my spinning experiments have been intermittent since being introduced to spindle spinning over five years ago. I would buy several bumps of fibre, play with it for five minutes, and then put the spindle down for several months. While I’ve improved in making even-ish yarn and spinning for longer periods of time – and not putting the spindle down for months at a time – I would like to try to integrate spinning more into my everyday life. Spinning regularly for the Tour de Fleece seems like a good way to establish a new habit.

The first part of my planning is to see what I have in my stash. As I said before, my enthusiasm has exceeded my actual spinning, so I have a a stash of spinning fibre at the ready. I have two braids of Malabrigo Nube, two kinds of merino, and a merino/silk blend in stash, which should be enough to get me through the Tour. Since I’m relatively new to all of this, I plan on just playing with the fibre and making whatever wants to come out of it. I already have some of my green merino spun and would like to finish it and make a cowl, the nube will be a brioche hat or cowl, the pink will be used with some green handspun to make a tea cosy, and the merino/silk blend will become . . . something that is yet to be determined. I’m sure the yarn will tell me what it wants to be when it grows up.

The second part of my planning is to set a realistic goal and find a way to meet it. As a final year grad student, I’m lucky most days if my shoes aren’t on my hands instead of my feet, so I need to keep things simple. The beauty of spindles are that they are easily portable, making it easy to pull it out and start spinning. I own two spindles, one a Schacht beginner’s spindle and a handmade walnut spindle from Alaska. Having two spindles will allow me to spin at home and at the office for when I get a spare few minutes. In fact, I always keep a bump of fibre and a spindle in one of drawers at work because I have periods of high productivity and then slumps. Having something simple like spinning to do as a mental break is a huge benefit when I’m trying to edit a paragraph for the fifth time that week. Plus spinning keeps me off Facebook and makes me stick to the writing that I should be doing (whistles innocently). With this kind of work schedule, a realistic goal for me is a minimum of 15 minutes of spinning a day. If I do more, that’s fantastic, but this way I know I can achieve my goal and get in the habit of spinning.

So, what’s my advice for preparing for Tour de Fleece as a beginner spinner? One, make sure you have enough fibre for the whole tour. Get an extra bump just in case. Secondly, be kind and honest with yourself when you set goals. If you are new, set a short time limit that you know you can achieve and set aside a time when you know you can do it. Thirdly, remember to enjoy the Tour. This is all in good fun, so enjoy the spinning!


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