Spinning Wheels – why use them to make your own yarn
Having your own spinning wheel allows you to make the most beautiful yarn exactly the way you want. You are in control; you can choose which fibres to use and blend the colours till they are just right. Handspun yarn is usually more attractive than commercial yarn, resulting in eye-catching jumpers or hand-woven cushions. Not only will you end up with a better product, you will get more enjoyment out of your knitting or weaving if you use handspun wool. Modern spinning wheels are much easier to use than traditional ones, and the new portable travel wheels allow you to transform spinning into a fantastic social occasion.
Having your own spinning wheel allows you to make the most beautiful yarn exactly the way you want it. You are in control of the colour, thickness, warmth, strength, choice of fibre and twist. You will find it rewarding to create your own unique yarn and if you run out of yarn, you can always spin some more.
The choice of fibre is almost unlimited when you learn to spin. You may prefer to save time and buy wool tops that are already prepared and dyed or you can save money and card wool from local sheep. You can try wool from rare and unusual breeds such as the North Ronaldsay sheep that eats seaweed. If you are feeling adventurous, you can produce your own fibre and start growing a patch of flax on an allotment or raising tussah silk worms on oak leaves.
You can even go a step further and blend fibres to get your own mix that is as warm or as soft as you want. By blending mohair with Blue-faced Leicester wool for example and spinning it finely you can create you own 3-ply warm and strong sock wool.
The soothing repetition of spinning together with the comforting feeling of touching soft warm fibre can help you relax after a stressful day. Spinning can also be inspirational, hands and feet are gently occupied giving the brain space to think and I often have my best ideas while sitting by the spinning wheel.
You may feel satisfaction from knowing that somebody 32 thousand years ago was doing exactly what you are doing now, spinning fibre. You can dream of spinning flax near a pyramid watching a pharaoh pass by, creating embroidery wool with a drop spindle in a castle, spinning by the shore for the sail cloth of a Viking ship or spinning alpaca in the Andes. Then you come back to the present knowing that you can spin for pleasure, rather than having to spend more time than you want twirling a drop spindle just to be able to clothe you and your family.
Advantages of Handspun Yarn
In contrast to the mechanical regularity of most commercial yarns, the variation in the thickness of the handspun yarn introduces an attractive unevenness into knitting, softening lines and adding a natural look to your work. Instead of getting bored with the predictability of commercial yarns, your eyes delight on the diversity of handspun yarn and your hands get excited by the pleasant surprises that the next stitch brings.
Handspun yarn is also a great motivator. You may find that you cannot wait to get back to work on your knitted scarf, and you will most likely end up with no abandoned projects. When you use natural dyes on your handspun wool, your jumpers have a natural vibrant quality to them that comes only from hand-crafted work.
Modern spinning wheels are easy to use and maintain, and the new travel wheels are light and fold neatly into a canvas bag. Having a portable wheel allows you to turn spinning into an enjoyable social activity through attending spinners meetings and taking part in their demonstrations.
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