I have been proficient (or what I consider to be proficient) on my wheel for about a year now. Any yarn I want to make, I can pretty much do it, without getting really nasty surprises. I have a good grasp on what I can do with different types of fiber, and although I’m still learning long draw, I could probably do it if I really tried.
But when it comes to spinning on a spindle, I am a big fat chicken. I really didn’t see the point of spinning on spindles for a long time. The wheel is much faster for me, and I could produce the yarn I wanted, so why bother with a spindle? Well the main reason to spin on both types of tools is that sometimes taking a wheel along with you just isn’t practical… the way that taking socks along as a portable knitting project is much more reasonable than taking an afghan or large sweater project.
A friend and I recently splintered off from the spinning group we’d been attending (for various reasons, but the main ones being that we didn’t feel welcome or wanted… they were very cliqueish and not very welcoming, even though they’d invited US to join) and in our quest to decide where to meet with our newly formed group (that consists of her and me right now, but we’re hoping for new people!!), we decided on the mall that’s close to where we live. Now spinning at the mall is quite an experience… if you haven’t done it, you really should try it sometime. What’s surprised me the most is that children are so much more polite than adults… and the older the adult is, the more they feel they can walk up to you and provide commentary (either welcome or unwelcome) on what you’re doing. The look on people’s faces when we tell them we’re making yarn is quite priceless sometimes. Children seem to accept this and almost always say some variation of “cool!” or “that’s awesome!” but adults get this dumbfounded look on their faces and almost always say something along the lines of “why would you want to do that?”. Let’s just say that I have high hopes for the future of fiber arts, because children seem genuinely interested in learning to do things with their hands, and, well, the older generation won’t be around forever so I’m not worried about evangelizing to them or teaching them anything they aren’t interested in. My favorite comment was from a boy that looked to be about 12 or so. He said “I’m a knitter and I’d love to make my own yarn to knit with. A lot of my friends knit too- boys AND girls.” That absolutely made my day.
Anyway, I’ve digressed quite a lot. The point of talking about the group was to say this: on our first two meeting days, it was raining both days, so I couldn’t even conceive of taking my Little Gem out of the house. (For those of you that don’t own Majacraft wheels, they’re extremely sensitive to temperature and humidity changes; it’s not really a good idea to take them outside into hot, steamy weather when they’re used to a climate-controlled 73 degrees with very little humidity, and then bring them back inside afterward. Over time it can weaken them and make them split if there are any faults in the soft Rimu wood they’re made of.) So I had to bring something with me to work on, and hadn’t really spun on a spindle in a long time… so I grabbed my medium Turkish spindle from Threads Thru Time on Etsy and about 1.5oz of some mixed BFL roving I’d dyed (some leftovers from my shop) and took it with me. Well my singles sucked horribly for the first few days I tried it, but I think I’m gradually getting better! It turns out that it’s not as hard as I made it out to be at first… and that muscle memory translates between wheel spinning and spindling. I am definitely happy with the way that a well-wound cop looks on a Turkish spindle… it makes my little semi-OCD heart swell with joy.
In gearing up for the Tour de Fleece, I’m going to attempt to spin 15 minutes a day on one of my spindles (and I’m ashamed to say I have a LOT of them now… considering I really didn’t start spinning on them in earnest til a month ago). My other goals are loftier, but I think this one is just as important. And let’s just say… a spindle is now in my purse at all times.