Hand-Spun Yarns

I now have a store set up at:  http://www.squareup.com/market/windsong-fibers-farm

Hand-spun yarns, rovings, hand-knitted items and more can be purchased from there.  Shipping is posted at $3 per item, but will be adjusted according to the total weight.  Thank you for shopping with WindSong Fibers Farm.

My Story:

I have had questions about the uniformity of my yarns and what is it that I do to get such uniform yarns.  I have to respond with good questions.  I am a self taught spinner who first touched a wheel in May of 2003.  But for 40 years as a knitter, I dreamed of creating my own yarns.  It wasn't until I went to an alpaca show in Louisville, Kentucky and rounded the corner of a vendors' area that my dreams came to fruition.

As I rounded the corner of tall draped booths, there before my eyes were 4 or 5 booths of different spinning wheels.  My mouth must have dropped open and my eyes must have been wide at my astonishment because I heard a voice say, "Would you like to sit and try to spin?"  As my eyes scanned the area for the location of the voice a slight woman stepped out into the aisle and beckoned me to come her way.  Little did I know that I was about to break the checkbook that day.

I sat down before a small double treadled wheel while the woman, whom I would get to know as Shelby, explained some basics to me.  Then she said, "Put your feet on the treadles and work them while I work the fibers."  How was I to know that all those years sewing on my great grandmother's treadle Singer sewing machine would actually pay off?  I had no trouble keeping a smooth rhythm  and even direction while treadling.  Another customer approached and Shelby handed me the soft luxurious alpaca fibers of Nibbs and said, "I'll be right back.  I need to talk to this lady" and I was on my own.

I left Louisville that day with that same Jensen Tina II that sits in my living room along with her cousin, Jensen Ashley, and a Kromski Sonata.  My great grandmother taught me to sew and always said that if I was going to do something I should do it well and do it right.  While art yarns are pretty and usually pleasing to the eye, I like consistent yarns to knit with.  Therefore, when spinning I spin for a consistent yarn.

Like sewing and knitting, I want something that I can use for many, many years.  I begin by pre-drafting my fibers so that they are easier to spin.  If a top is dense, I strip it down then pre-draft each strip.  I pick a treadling speed and a pulley that is suitable for the type of fiber I am spinning.  I want a faster speed with alpaca than I do with a long-wool so I pick a smaller pulley for the alpaca than I do the long-wool.  But most of all, that first year with my wheel, I spun at least an hour each day even though I was still working.  Spinning became my stress reliever.  To sit and let the texture of fibers glide through my fingers was the ultimate "end-of-the-day" activity.  My work days went faster because there at home, sat "Tina," as I dubbed her, waiting for me to spend quality time with her.  My first two skeins of yarn were 'novelty' yarn.  Thick and thin alpaca yarn.  Nothing wrong with that, I just wish I could still make it.  And yes, I learned to spin with alpaca first.  After learning to spin with alpaca, wools were easy and I took to them like ducks to water.

To sum it all up, my answer to those who want to know how I spin consistent yarns is to practice, practice, practice.  Look at commercial yarns.  Look at their structure.  Know that one needs twice as much twist in the single as one does in the plyed.  But mostly enjoy.  Never miss an opportunity to learn more about the craft.  Once one's wheel and one have become good friends, take some classes to broaden the skill level and learn more about the craft.  I've read every spinning book I could get my hands on, and guess what? Just like individuals, they all vary in their opinions about spinning.  While many folks swear by Alden Amos, he is a bit rigid in how things should be done.  Keep reading don't stop there.  The ways to spin are as varied as the number of spinners that exist.

I look forward to each evening when I can sit down in front of my Ashley and spin for a couple of hours before bedtime.  Without that single activity, I have a hard time sleeping at night.  But after spinning, my body is relaxed and ready for sleep.
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