Subscribe to the knitting blog RSS feed Like this knitting blog on Facebook
Follow this knitting blog on Twitter Follow this knitting blog on Google Plus


Drop Spindle Class

Another thing I have to tell you! I took a 2-hour class last Saturday on learning to spin yarn with a drop spindle. I have been wanting to learn how to spin for ages now, but there are several barriers that have to be cleared first. Learning to spin with a drop spindle seemed like a good bridge between here and there, so to speak.

The resulting yarn was hideous, as you might expect. Not even “endearingly hideous.”

drop spindle yarn

I mean, everyone’s all, “No, it’s just thick-thin-slubby! People pay a lot of money for that kind of yarn!” Way to make an effort to encourage the newbies, I really do appreciate it. But let’s be honest: your first efforts at anything are crappy. That’s just the way it works.

It’s difficult to be bad at something. But like so many things that are difficult, the effort is good for you. Learning something new – no matter what it is – is one of the best things you can do for your brain. Neuroplasticity, blah blah blah.

Over the years I have learned that with new skills, I either learn them very quickly, or I will never ever be able to learn them no matter how hard I try. I used to obsess about my lousy performance at the “bad at this” skills, and fling myself at them, and get discouraged, and hate myself for sucking so badly. But as I got older I realized that a more appropriate response is to stop wasting my time, and bury “bad at this” things as quickly as possible, like a cat in the litter box.

The polite way to phrase this is, “Play to your strengths.” But privately I always think, “It’s time to bury this turd and move on with my life.”

It’s too early to know whether spinning is a “good at this” or “bad at this” thing. But if you never hear me speak of it again, just picture a lumpy, mis-shapen skein of yarn buried at the bottom of a litter box. (You’re welcome!)

14 comments to Drop Spindle Class

  • Kaitlin

    If you haven’t already, check out Abby Franquemont’s many wonderful musings on learning to spin over in the Beginning Spinners group on Ravelry.

    One of the things that I have come to enjoy about spinning is getting to be a beginner at it. (Maybe that’s because I am somehow a product-motivated knitter and a process-motivated spinner, but I think Abby’s meditations on what it means to be a beginner have also helped me a lot with it.)

    Also, I’m assuming you’ve already got the practice-20-minutes-a-day-for-a-long-time speech, but if not, let me know :)

  • But I love thick and thin yarn. And your efforts, unlike mine, resulted in something that is definitely recognizable AS yarn.

    Play to your strengths…..hmm. Want some roving?

  • Jennifer

    Good luck! I’m sure it will be good for amusing the cats, if nothing else.

  • Maura van der Linden

    aww – don’t bury it in the litterbox! I’m sure felted yarn-turd would make a fine cat toy. Especially if you let them “find” it.

  • Xeres

    I still have my first attempt at yarn, because it was so wonderfully, outrageously AWFUL. Yours is actually not bad. Not even, certainly, but not bad. Keep going! It’s fun!

  • I found that I did better spinning on a wheel than I do on a spindle; it’s just easier for me to draft. But wheels are bloody expensive, so I understand why you’re spindle spinning first.

  • Knit something with it. Seriously. If you don’t have much yardage, use it for the cuff of a hat.
    I knit my first yarn into a hat (And one of a pair of fingerless mitts. Someday I’ll knit the second one, I swearz…) and I love it, lumps and all.
    I spindle spun for a year before I ever touched a wheel. The lessons learned in drafting were invaluable, and made for an easy transition to the relative hi-tech of a 30-yr-old Ashford Traditional. (My dad decided that after a year with a spindle, I was serious enough about spinning to give me his old wheel. That was a Happy Dance Day!)

  • Ginny

    I received a class in drop spindle spinning as a gift. I thought I would do much better actually having a person show me than watch it occur on videos. And my first yarn looked a lot like yours. I have gotten better (I was sorely tempted to line up my first six spinning attempts just to see the improvement) over time. And my beloved husband bought me “Six Feet of Sheep” painted roving for Christmas!

    Do not throw it away and be careful with the cats…the fibers can really cause nasty hairball reactions. However, it works beautifully if you make baskets. No kidding. I weave odds and ends into my baskets and they really look amazing. Not to mention that since you started with white wool, you can practice dye on that with all kinds of fun stuff…kool aid, beet juice, coffee, tea, onion skins etc.

  • Lauren

    I know it looks like an uphill battle to you right now. But drop spindling is a skill, just like knitting is. Just like walking is. You can never just get on your feet as an infant and start jaunting around like you own the playpen. It requires learning how to move your arms and legs, and in what order. Spindling is the same, except it’s more part specific on fingers and hands and arms.

    Don’t throw your arms up because you didn’t immediately pick it up, it’s just something you need to teach your body how to do. All skills can be learned by people (not necessarily can everyone -perfect- the skill, but they can still do it). Since you can knit, I have faith and confidence in your ability to spin, you just need to fine tune how your hands work. Which means practice.

    And by the way, I’m on my first cop of new yarn, so I’m not an experienced spinner by any means, and I think your yarn is very pretty. Martha Stewart sells something that resembles it. (Don’t believe me? Look at this – (also look at how much she sells it for))

    So yes, you have underspun parts and you have lumps and what not, but that comes in smoothing the spin into the yarn as you go. You’ll get it, I promise. Hold me to it, if you don’t believe me.

  • Dawn'l

    Thank you! That pick-me-up, laugh out loud, new perspective is just what I needed this morning.
    P.S. I think your attempt is lovely, in a jewel in the rough kind of way.

  • It’ll come, little by little. I discovered that I needed a very light spindle in order to have enough time to draft properly, and I still prefer a very light spindle. It seems I like to spin fine, and anything else made me grumpy. (I also tend to wrangle a new skill until it screams, so my first spindle-spun yarns are stern, angry stuff. YMMV.)

    I do have a wheel now, but I still do some things on my spindles. I really like how much control I have over the drafting process with spindles. (I don’t have a problem. I can stop anytime.)

  • Beth in STL

    Welcome to a new obsession. :-) After (mumblety) years as a knitter, I never thought I’d spin yarn. And after I tried it with the matted locks used to pack my first spindle for shipping, I never thought I’d get very far. But that cheap used spindle off eBay led to a used PVC spinning wheel, which led to a used cheap wooden wheel, which led to a brand-new double-treadle 22-inch Reeves and a “backup” used Matchless and making my own spindles…

    Yeah. My fiber stash isn’t quite as big as my yarn stash, but that’s because once it’s spun, it becomes new yarn stash. The good news: even though it’s far from a cheap way to get yarn, you get at least twice the entertainment for your fiber dollar.

  • Sara

    If you decide that spindling is Not in Your Repertoire, will you LEAP! away from it like the cats do?

    (You know what I mean: there’s the Pat The Dirt phase, the Digging, the Desperation-OMG-NOW!, the Deposit, the Ewww-Bury-It, the Eew-I-can-still-smell-it, the Wrong Spot Burial phase, the Is-It-Gone and finally the EW-ICK-LEAP phase. The latter involves spattering as much litter as possible out of the box, running away like an idiot and asking for food.)

  • Erika

    Ha! I call that last part the “victory lap”!