Sunday, November 13, 2011

Spinning Gold

"Spinning is the simple act of drawing out a few fibers and twisting them together to form a yarn. The process predates written history, and was first done by hand and with sticks. Spinning wheels are believed to have originated in India between 500 and 1000 A.D. By the 13th century, they were seen in Europe, and were a standard piece of equipment for those making fiber into yarn. By the 17th century they were commonly found in homes in the colonies of North America, where the production of fabric was a cottage industry. Spinning was generally seen as a woman's job. Women spun yarn at home, as well as with friends at spinning bees, where food was served and prizes might be given to the person who produced the most or best yarn."
~From the website American History

On my bucket list is learning the ancient art of spinning wonderful wool into gold...I mean yarn.  Yesterday I took the first step in marking this off of my list with a beginning spinning class taken through Astoria Fiber Arts Academy.  This class is a two-part with the first two hour session yesterday and the next two hour next Saturday.  I was so excited to start and my instructor, Shannon, did not disappoint.  She did a fabulous job of explaining all of the parts of the wheel and how the energy made from turning the wheel translates the wool roving into the final golden product, beautiful wool yarn! 

Shannon brought her own personal spinning wheel to teach on - very similar to the one in the picture above.  After going over the parts of the wheel and explaining how it all works together it was time to prepare our wool.  Shannon brought wool roving that she had dyed herself then proceeded to explain how you prepare the roving by "drafting" it - gently pulling the roving in segments to seperate the fibers and get it into the thickness that you want your finished yarn to end up. 

Once we had a bit of roving drafted, Shannon then demonstrated on the wheel how to actual spin it, then it was my turn!  The hardest part so far for me is trying to figure out my hands.  I am definately not the most coordinated person you will ever meet, so getting that down and understanding when to hold the tension and when to let the roving feed in is certainly something I will have to work on.  In the beginning, Shannon spins the wheel by hand so that the student, (me!), can work on the hand skill while not having to worry about the foot on the treadle.  I learned to sew, many years ago, on a treadle sewing machine that had belonged to my great-grandmother, and was pleasantly surprised to find that my leg and foot still held that muscle memory and hopped on that treadle like I do it every day.  Muscle memory is an incredible thing.  Hopefully someday my hands will hold that same spinning technique memory!

Our two hours went by so fast and I can hardly wait until next weeks class.  I was sent home with homework - roving that I wil get drafted to the best of my very limited ability.  Then next Saturday, that roving will be spun into a two-ply yarn!  How fun!  I can see all ready how addicting this ancient skill can become.  Anybody have a spinning wheel for sale??!
So tell me, have you been able to mark anything off of your bucket list lately?  What was it? 


Stacey's Treasures said...

Oh how exciting to spin your own yarn. I can see a small herd of sheep or alpaca's in your future.

Bonnie said...

I have a friend who has been spinning for a year or so and so enjoys it. She travels with her wheel. I can't wait to see your finished product.

Tipper said...

After this class-you can come to the folk school for a spinning class-and I can meet you in person : ) Glad you're enjoying it!

Run Lori Run said...

How funny! I just started a post entitled "Bucket List" too. I am still trying to compile my perfect list...however I don't think I'd have the patience to spin my own yarn!!

Adrienne said...

My moused to have a spinning wheel .... Although it was just for looks. I need to make a bucket list. I don't even have one! Shame on me :-)

Twisted Fencepost said...

I would love to do this! My mother-n-law has a spinning wheel and and spinning ginny. I don't know if they are in working order or not.
In a little over a week I will have finished up one of my "bucket list" items.....going back to school. I graduate on Dec. 16. Yay!!!