Tools of the Trade

It has taken me some time to return to this article. I decided to sell my home in the country and move into town. When I see pictures like this one, I am struck with bittersweet memories. I have now lived in my new home for a year and a half, which is enough time for me to begin making new good memories. I feel the time is right to finish this article. When I started spinning, I owned nothing except for an upright parlor wheel (pictured on the left). My then-husband gave it to me for Christmas. It came with a broken flyer. He bought it that way, knowing we had a friend who could build me a new flyer. I had no way of knowing what supplies I would need for this new hobby. I just dove in and started spinning.  It took me two weeks just to learn how to get the fiber to draw onto the bobbin. I almost threw it out of the window a couple of times! Once I got the hang of it, I knew I found a new love! I now own three spinning wheels and several drop spindles. I finally understand the obsession men have with hit and miss engines. You can never have too many! They all are so lovely and make such unique swooshing sounds. 


If I could tell you anything that would make your life easier and make spinning more enjoyable it is that proper fiber preparation is key. I bought two sets of hand carders because they were inexpensive. (TheSpinnery) They were relatively easy to learn to use and I quickly learned how to make rolags for spinning.  They work great and I use them for blending different fibers and for prepping shorter fibers. I do not like using them for longer staple length fibers. 

I then bought a cat brush for flicking the ends of some long wool I purchased. I learned a lot from spinning the long wool by only flicking the ends but I didn't love prepping the fiber for spinning. For that matter, I didn't love spinning it with that preparation either. 

My most recent purchase is a comb and hackle set from Shepherd's Custom Woodworking LLC on Etsy in December of 2019 and I am in love! Prepping the fiber is just as meditative and relaxing to me as spinning it. Preparing the wool by combing gave me such a consistent roving that for the first time I was able to consistently spin three bobbins full of fiber. I am so happy with the outcome of the three skeins of yarn I made. They were very balanced and uniform. I am confident I can duplicate them. I plan on making enough to make an afghan. It has taken me six years to feel this confident. I am sure if I had invested in the proper tools earlier I would have been able to accomplish this sooner. 

The books in the photo are two that I go back to again and again. Start Spinning Everything You Need to Know to Make Great Yarn by Maggie Casey and the Fleece and Fiber SourceBook by Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius.

My next favorite purchase in December of 2019 was my Babe's Fiber Garden Double Treadle Production Wheel.



My new Babe wheel makes me so happy! It is a breeze to run and a fraction of the price of a wooden wheel. I am still dreaming of the day I will be able to own a beautiful handmade wooden wheel, but until that time, this one made out of PVC works perfectly for me. I plan on painting the wood parts to dress it up a bit. When I get that done, I will post a picture.

The picture on the left is a traditional Saxony Wheel sometimes referred to as a Cinderella wheel famously used in the story of Cinderella. Saxony wheels were brought from Europe in the 16th century. The wheel on the top right is a parlor wheel or an upright wheel. They were designed to take up less space in a room. Both of my wooden wheels were handmade by an individual. I do not know who made them as they have no mark. The Babe's Double Treadle Production wheel is on the bottom right. This wheel is made out of PVC pipe, composite wheelchair wheels, and high-quality plywood. My favorite wheel right now is the parlor wheel. Mainly because it is the wheel I learned to spin on and it just feels right. I also like that the bobbins are bigger than on the Saxony which allows me to get more fiber in a skein. The Babe is on its way to becoming my favorite! I love the size of the bobbins and how easy it is to start and stop using only my feet.

This next set of tools is a menagerie of useful items that I find helpful.  The picture on the top left is a few of my spindles. My favorite is a Turkish spindle, then a tahkli spindle with a glass bowl that I use to spin cotton. I am not very good but this spindle made it so I could finally spin cotton without breaking it! The others in the jar are ones that I made. The next box directly to the right is a picture of my comb and hackle set that I bought off Etsy. Shepherdswoodworking I absolutely love it! Proper fiber preparation makes a world of difference in the ease and consistency of my work. In the photo, there is also a diz and threader that I also purchased on Etsy from ThomasWoodandWool The picture on the bottom right is of a yarn swift that was gifted to me by my kids from KnitPicks.com The ball winder next to it was also a gift but is an invaluable tool. I often use it to double-ply yarn because I can pull from the center and the outside at the same time. Plying this way ensures that I will end with equal amount of yarn. The box on the right in the middle is Knitty Knotty and was made for me by a man whom I love dearly and is like a dad to me. It is beautiful and useful. With it, I can measure the yardage of my
yarn using it to wind off of either one of my wheels or a spindle. The distance between the horizontal bars is 18". The last photo is of a multi-purpose tool. It is a diz, spinning control card, and twist angle purchased from thefibersprite on Etsy. I am sure you have noticed a trend in my choice of places to find craft supplies. I hope I have been helpful in giving you some of the basic supplies you will need to start your adventure in spinning!



Comments

  1. Sounds like you had to weather a difficult storm since we last spoke. Sending you peace and love. Take care my friend...

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