This is a big
part of why I learnt to spin – you can start with fleece from a sheep (that
you may even know) and make a yarn inspired by something special to you.
More details of this yarn design.
I learnt to spin in the best place in the world for spinning - Shetland! That
was in 2000 and I have recently returned to those marvellous islands for some
advanced fine spinning tuition. Spinning appeals to many as you can spin
virtually any yarn you wish for- ultra fine to very chunky, plain through a
whole range of fancy yarns and of course a whole variety of fibres, both natural
There are many advantages to knitting with your own hand spun wool, I will give
my 5 top ones:
Traceability of the fibre
Sustainability when using natural fibres
Yarn and Garment will be unique
Pleasure and creativity of producing the yarn and the garment
Ability to start with fleece from a particular sheep and move through to the
garment or item
If you mainly hand knit your yarns into garments then do take a look at the
Knitting (designer) page for some hints that might increase your love of your
I enjoy spinning with both a drop spindle and a wheel. Both allow you make
single yarn and then ply this. Yarn from both can be used for knitting and
A favourite top whorl spindle which I use by rolling up my
leg. Fine Shetland yarn on the spindle soon to be added to by hand dyed
If you want to have a go at spinning you can do so by making a drop spindle - a
CD and piece of dowelling or even a potato and a knitting needle. Look on you
tube for some ways of doing it. If you get in OK you might like to try a wheel
and note several people who spin with a wheel find it difficult or spin with a
A wheel certainly makes it easier to spin ( in my opinion) and if you are
interested in trying a wheel before buying one it would be a good idea to
contact your local guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers.(1) Using a
wheel makes it easier to do many of the fancy or art yarns if that is your main
I spin three main sorts of yarn- very fine, fancy and yarn to dye with. I have
added examples here.
Alpaca bookmark - chosen for the National Exhibition of WSD
in 2015. Spun singles and hand knitted. The alpaca is from Southern Cumbria
where my husband went on holiday as a child.
Part of a large cobweb lace stole spun from Shetland fleece
and Crookabeck Angora - goes through a wedding ring. My first handspun shawl
and I now spin even finer lace yarn.
Spinning for dyeing
This is called my pansy jacket as it used most of the fleece
from a Jacob sheep called Pansy. I separated the fleece colours to give this
effect. The deep pink is dyed with cochineal and the lighter pink was dyed in
If you want to know how to wash fleece I have a version of the fermented
suint method which I find works remarkably well ( blog of 1 Sept13 and 8 Feb 14)
My most treasured spinning aid : A WPI ( wraps per inch ) yarn gauge
measure and a similar one on my iPod - for verification of yarn gauge
My best tip : keep a record of what you spin, how it was prepared, what
you use if for etc. Once you have spun a yarn it should be completely
reproducible - even if it many years between the two!
I am still adding more information here and I regularly blog about current
Individual or group teaching; demonstrations, talks, presentations and workshops
will give you a list of all the guilds, by locality and for many their programme
as well as contact details. I belong to both Diss Guild and the Online Guild.
Diss Guild has its own website.