Posted by: jinniver | March 11, 2009

Handspun lessons learned

First yarn Tulip (16)

When I was in middle school, my class was given a test on following directions.  The test had a list of about 20 items you needed to complete, many of them evident to observers–saying something out loud, getting out of your seat, etc.  We were firmly instructed to read all instructions before completing any of them, and then told to begin.

The first instruction told us to write our name at the top of the paper.  Most of my classmates scribbled their names and then moved on to step 2.  Since we could all see and hear how far everyone else was on the list, competitive juices kicked in quickly, and most of us were racing to see who could get to the end.

I was one of the few who–galling though it was to be left behind–followed the teacher’s directive to read all of the instructions first.  I read as fast as I could, because I hated everyone could see I was behind…and then found myself feeling quite smug as I reached the end and read:

20.  Complete only the first item on this list.

Of course, the instructions had been written in such a way that everyone in the room would know who did what our teacher told us to do and who didn’t.  I’ll admit–I smirked a bit as I watched classmate after classmate realized they’d just made a bit of a public fool of themselves.

Well, apparently I’ve forgotten my middle school lessons.

Megan provided three videos on spinning yarn with a drop spindle. I watched the first two. This was a mistake.

In retrospect, I’m not sure why I didn’t think that the video on finishing yarn would be necessary.  It wasn’t, as far as just the spinning process was concerned.  But there’s how to spin, and there’s how to spin properly, and had I known some of the information provided in video #3, I wouldn’t have made a beginner’s mistake:

First yarn Tulip (19)

Kinked yarn with too much twist.

From my initial research, I thought I was okay. However, several spinners who read that first post and looked at the pictures pointed out that the yarn actually did have too much twist.  So I knew I might have a problem.  I was hoping that weighting the yarn while it was drying would straighten the kinks out, but no such luck.

Now, why would watching the final video have kept this from happening?  Because the final video explains how to set the twist.

The reason I was putting so much twist in the yarn was because I was afraid that underspun yarn wouldn’t hold the twist.  I couldn’t see how the twist would stay, seeing as how my yarn kept wanting to untwist itself.  Had I watched the final video, and known that once it was all spun up I’d dunk it in hot water and hang to dry to set the twist, I probably wouldn’t have added so much spin to my yarn.

Other than that, though…I am quite chuffed with my first attempt.

First yarn Tulip (17)

Knitting it is going to be a challenge, above and beyond the kinks. The thickness is pretty widely variable, for all of my attempts to be consistent. There are also underspun parts that I’ll have to be careful with because they’ll have less strength.  But that’s a small price to pay to knit something with yarn I’ve spun myself.  I haven’t decided for sure what I’m going to do with it, but I’m leaning strongly towards a cloche.  For now, though, I’m content to just enjoy looking at my yarn and saying, “I did that.”



  1. Congratulations! The feeling only gets better when you knit something out of your handspun. I think the thing I’m most proud of is the pair of socks I spun and knit. They’re awesome!

  2. Your handspun looks beautiful.

    Mine, on the other hand… well, let’s just say I haven’t gotten the hang of the whole bloody concept, and I have *three* wheels mocking me. Mocking me, I tell you.


    I am the Sam Hornish Jr. of spinning. A wreck waiting to happen.

  3. I think it looks great! still not going to try it though!

  4. your yarn is beautiful. and i overspun the first skein. a LOT.


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