Intro to Spinning Workshop at The Knit Cafe

May 23, 2015

ashford-new-zealand-drop-spindle

A few months back I took a drop spindle (introductory spinning) class at The Knit Cafe in Toronto. Majorly worth it. For anyone interested in spinning and in the Toronto area I wanted to share my experience.

I got into the idea of spinning my own yarn a couple years ago when a family friend passed on to me her huge and enviable fleece stash. I’m talking garbage bags filled with merino, cotswold, and all kinds of things I’m still trying to identify (If this is old news, apologies). I couldn’t have access to that and not do anything with it. Knowing learning online or through a DVD wasn’t for me, I found an intro course at my local guild, the Burr House Spinners and Weavers Guild. While I adore that place and all the women I’ve met there (both my mother and I have taken weaving courses there and loved it), that specific course wasn’t the right way for me to start. Since the course was only for the day, things had to move pretty quickly… We learned about different fibres that you can spin, learned to spin on a drop spindle made from a CD and a dowel, then moved over to the wheel to (hopefully!) finish off a little cone of yarn. This was major system overload for me, and although I succeeded in making a tiny cone I didn’t feel like I had absorbed much. I didn’t feel confident about going home and trying this a week later in my living room.

Two years later (two years in which I did not touch a spindle/wheel) I signed up for the drop spindle course at The Knit Cafe on the recommendation of a work friend. I’m so glad that I did. This intro course focused only on the drop spindle and spanned three weeks. This gave me time to go home and practice between classes, and come back with questions. The combination of a great teacher (Michelle!), hands on learning, and a small group was a winner for me. I left confident on my drop spindle, and I’ve since easily transitioned to spinning on a wheel.

drop-spindle-merino-wool-singles

In week one Michelle showed us a pile skeins she’d made from various types of fibres, giving us an idea of what you can do. She got us going with with some lovely Smurf blue fleece and once we’d settled into things got us using our own fleece (I bought a small bag of merino at the shop). We came back to week two with two singles rolled onto toilet paper rolls and learned how to ply. It was so great to have the time to do most of the spinning and plying in class though, so you could ask questions as they came up.

hand-spun-merino

We had to finish plying our yarn at home before week three, where we learned how to wind it and tie it and all that fun finishing stuff. As you can see, one of my singles was much thinner than the other (Oops). The remainder of the last class was spent testing out all kinds of different fibres and creating a sample card. This is something Michelle prepped on her own time at home, giving us samples from her own stash. So thankful that she took the time to do this because there’s no better way to learn the difference then by feel.

knit-cafe-drop-spindle-sample-card

intro-to-drop-spinning-fibre-samples

drop-spindle-quiviot-cashmere-dew-retted-linen-top

(Left to right) Quiviot, cashmere roving, dew retted linen top.

drop-spindle-tussah-silk-alpaca-organic-cotton-mohair-locks

(Left to right) Tussah silk, alpaca, Chinese bleached hemp, mohair locks.

drop-spindle-angora-corriedale-fleece-bamboo-nylon-batting

(Left to right) Angora (bunnies!), washed Corriedale fleece, bamboo(rayon), nylon batting.

hand-spun-merino-yarn-twist

Here’s another look at the unbalanced and unwashed baby skein I managed to make.

drop-spindle-beginners-sample-card

It’s pretty cool to be learning another step of the sheep-to-shawl process, to have creative control over that much more of what you make. Excited to see where it’ll take me!

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