Portrait of Emily Werner
by: Emily Werner

Handspinning for yarn lovers

Can’t find the yarn you’re looking for? Make it yourself!

How many times have you gone into a yarn shop knowing the exact yarn you want, only to find that it doesn’t exist? Maybe the color is wrong, or the weight, or even the fiber. Have you ever considered that you can spin the exact yarn you want?

I always knew I would one day learn to spin, it was just a matter of when I would be able to get my hands on a spinning wheel. Finally, the stars aligned and I was able to take Linda Clutterbuck’s Begin to Spin class right here at Halcyon! In the weeks leading up to the class I read all about different types of wheels we have in the classroom and tried to figure out which one was best for me. I’ve got to admit, it was pretty overwhelming. Irish tension? Scotch tension? Double drive? Wheel ratios? Did I want a beautiful traditional wheel so I could imagine I was spinning in a fairy tale or a modern wheel geared towards function and portability? Most importantly, what kind of yarn did I want to spin?

(If you want some help learning the terms and comparing features, check out our spinning wheel guide post here.)

With all these new terms spinning around in my head, I selected the [Sorry, item discontinued or temporarily out of stock] for my class. Apart from wanting to learn the basics, I knew I wanted to experiment with art yarns. From my research, I knew I would need a wheel with both an orifice and bobbins large enough to accommodate chunkier yarns. The S-10 was also easily portable between home and class. I let the other terminology go for the time being, deciding it would all make more sense once I actually started spinning.

 

[Sorry, item discontinued or temporarily out of stock]
  [Sorry, item discontinued or temporarily out of stock]

After a brief introduction to spinning, Linda let us loose, only gently correcting our posture or tweaking something on the wheel. There weren’t too many things to adjust on the wheel, so my main focus could be on what my hands and feet were doing. Spinning really is a whole body experience. It’s kind of like rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time. But once you get the rhythm down, spinning can be incredibly relaxing and meditative.

I’ve enjoyed spinning just for the sake of spinning. I have no purpose in mind other than to see what kind of yarn I can create. So far, my favorite creations have been a lock-spun and a coil-spun yarn. I’m not sure if these yarns are technically well spun, but I was too impatient to try out the technique that I couldn’t wait to do proper research. Don’t think, just spin!

Hand dyed lock-spun yarn

For the lock-spun yarn I used dyed curly locks from a local farm! I just opened the individual locks and spun the ends together, not worrying about it looking perfect or smooth, I was looking for lots of texture. I love the way the two colors subtly blend together and how the yarn looks very raw and woolly. Like it was just shorn off a bright orange sheep! You could also try this technique with our Kid Mohair Locks and Loose Fiber for a super soft version of this yarn.

Coil-spun yarn

 

Kid Mohair Locks and Loose Fiber Kid Mohair Locks and Loose Fiber

The coil-spun yarn was a two step process. First I spun a thick and thin singles yarn from a hand painted merino braid (similar to Nube by Malabrigo Fiber) that I got a few years ago at a fiber fair (I told you I’ve wanted to spin for a while!). Thick and thin yarn is great for beginners as the inconsistent size is now a design element! I then plied the painted merino with store bought thin wool yarn, holding the two singles at a right angle to each other, letting the merino wrap around the wool yarn. I love the fluff and softness of the finished product. I just want to put it on a shelf and stare at it all day.

 

Nube by Malabrigo Fiber Nube by Malabrigo Fiber

You may think I’d get tired of yarn, working in a yarn store, or that I have access to almost every kind of yarn. And I do see (and buy…) wonderful yarns throughout the shop on a daily basis! But there are so many fun yarns you can make by hand that large scale production just can’t match. Handspun yarns just have that extra special look and feel to them. So follow my lead, don’t think, just spin!

Related items of interest: • Our fibers