I met a woman at church, Mrs. Anderson who spins fiber as a hobby. She was kind enough to invite me to her house to see her “toys” and try my hand at some spinning of my own. It was a great experience, and I learned a lot, even though I’ve been reading about spinning.
The first thing I learned is that drop spindles are silly… well, maybe not silly. They were the best thing people had for a long time, and they are very simple to make. I was surprised how challenging it is, both kinds of spinning were challenging. I should have known because if it was easy, everyone would do it, right? She loaned me a spindle and some magenta roving, so I can practice. She recommended not practicing for more than twenty minutes at a time because it can be so frustrating.
I also tried out a spinning wheel. It was also challenging. The books make it sound so easy, but you have to treadle consistently and at the right pace, and not let the wheel come to a stop and reverse, which happened to me several times without me even realizing it because it’s just hard to focus on two things at once. Here’s my results after about ten minutes of practice.
I learned, that in the middle ages, sometimes people would spin on a sharp spindle with unwashed or poorly washed wool, and no one lived a hundred years, so the story of “Sleeping Beauty” was designed to teach children to be careful of the spindle. Because if you pricked your finger on it, you really could get tetanus or some other infection and die.
Mrs. Anderson also had a beautiful collection of other types of fiber, not just wool. I got to see Camel, angora, angora goat, cashmere, and several rayons, to name a few. I did not know beforehand that rayon can be considered a natural fiber. Bamboo is a rayon, and they also make rayon out of milk whey! They mix the way (or the pulverized bamboo, or whatever) with chemicals that change the structure of the material a little bit and shoot it through a Spinnerets (like a spider uses).
I’m excited to practice more and earn the $$ required to buy my own wheel. They’re expensive (but a good one can last several generations).