Initial thoughts

There’s a lot of theory as well as spinning in the Certificate I’ve been working towards. Without reproducing my answers exactly I’d prefer to offer an extension of them – the things I don’t get to say or include, the links and videos I find most helpful.

First up will be a series of posts about different preparation tools – from the standard ones through to some more specialised tools.  What they look like, how to use them, how to look after them – and yourself – some of these are dangerous! But before that there is a pressing question –

Why not just buy pretty tops or roving?

You’ll improve your skills for a start, but more importantly you’ll also gain a feel for the fibre, without the chemical baths or mechanised processing which results in a product destined for another machine. If you have the opportunity, take fibre from it’s raw state through to a finished yarn and your head, your hands and even your heart will learn and understand how that fibre works and with that understanding comes the skill to manipulate the fibre just the way you want it. All fibres behave differently – animal, plant or manmade – at first I’ll be focussing on animal fibres and wool in particular.

Sometimes I do choose tops to spin.

Either they’ve been dyed superbly by Indie dyers like Ewegivemetheknits or The Thylacine,  or I simply cannot get raw fleece of a particular breed in Australia – Blue Faced Leicester or North Ronaldsay and other rare breeds from around the world. Or even I like a particular blend which is available – merino and seacell is one.

Dealing with a fleece or raw fibre takes more understanding and skill than the basic ability to adjust for a suitable tension and twist on your wheel or spindle then feed the fibre in. It takes bravery, tenacity and patience along with the humour to put up with some odd smells and textures – the results are well worth it, though. Just try a little an you’ll see.

The easiest way to obtain these fibres (particularly in Australia) if you don’t own them or know someone who does, is to contact your local Spinning Guild or an online supplier. In fact if you’re new to this I’d recommend starting with a supplier just to make sure that you’ll be using a good quality fleece – I’ve been given some really awful fleeces in the past by well meaning farmers and friends who didn’t understand the needs of handspinners – made good compost!

The Handweavers Spinners & Dyers Guild of Tasmania has links to all the Australian State Guilds. Ewegivemetheknits sells fleece online as does Tasmanian House of Fibre