A Spinster’s Life

A month or two back, I bought a hand Spindle and some roving at the handmAid craft day in aid of Capuchin Day Centre for Homeless People on Saturday 14th of September. There it lay idle for a time. I had not the first notion of how to go about using my new top  whorl drop spindle. spindle3

Spinning is an ancient craft used to create yarn and thread. Plant, animal  and later synthetic fibres were drawn out and twisted together. For thousands of years, fibre was spun by hand using a simple tool, called the spindle, before the invention of spinning wheels. Whorl spindles have been around since neolithic times. A weighted disc of stone, clay or wood was added to the spindle stick in order  to make the spindle spin for longer, creating longer lengths of yards before being wound on to the stick. A hook of bone was added to the top of the spindle shaft to to fix the yarn or thread. Interestingly, the term spinster comes from medieval times, where poorer unmarried woman and girls spun wool to clothe themselves and earn a wage.

Back to my spindle, it lay idle. Where to start?  As they say, Google is your friend. A little on-line research and I came across some very easy and helpful tutorials from Megan LaCore

In this video  Megan shows how to prepare wool or other fibres for making hand-spun yarn. She also demonstrates how to split roving, draft and splice a section of broken roving which will prepare the fibre for spinning on a drop spindle or a spinning wheel.

In the next video, Megan shows how to make yarn on a top whorl drop spindle. She shows starting a leader yarn, the park method, the drop method, and connecting more fibre.

In this third tutorial, Megan shows how to prepare a newly-spun yarn for use. She demonstrates wrapping a hank, tying separator ties, setting the twist, and wrapping into a skein.

All I needed to know to get started.

And off I went, the kitchen taken over by rolls of drawn out fibre. The children, used to Mammy’s eccentricities by now, ignored me, except to chirp up at regular intervals, “You’ve dropped it again!”. Luckily it was hardy and sturdily made, able to withstand the repeated misuse.

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So, with thanks to Megan and the wonders of YouTube, I had created my very first mini skein of use able yarn.  And a slight obsession ignited.


4 thoughts on “A Spinster’s Life

  1. Spinning seems like such a simple process until you do it. Then you realize the wonderful complexity of it, and what you can do with it. I’m making my first handspun project now, and it is really rewarding to know I’ve made the entire thing from the simplest materials. What are you thinking of using your yarn for?

  2. just stumbled across your blog via ravelry… I thought you might like to know that there’s also a group called Connacht Textile Crafters meeting at the museum of country life regularly. our next meeting is on the 30th of november (11 to 3 pm) – and of course you’d be very welcome to join us. our demos on this day happen to be about spinning:) spinning long draw really, but our spinners (including me) would be happy to show other styles as well… nice to have found another irish wool and fibre “loon”:)
    happy spinning

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