Before moving forward with the descriptions of my projects, I would like to revert back in history and fill in some missing gaps. This post is about my first complete project that included my own spinning (very first yarn I’ve eve spun) and knitting with my yarn. This was my first real spinning project, not my first knitting project. I learned to knit from my grandmother and from my neighbor. I leaned how to crochet from my mom. I was seven when I started and I haven’t stopped ever since.
As a knitter, I always wanted to have a full control of the type of yarn I am using for my projects. Naturally, it’s very difficult to find the exact composition of natural fibers in my yarn, yarn thickness, type of yarn, color, price, and many other factors that affect the final article I am making. Spinning my own yarn has always been my secret dream.
This year, my dream came to fruition. The way it started, was quite shocking. It all started with our shed fire on the New Year’s night in January 2018. A lot of expensive farm equipment, animal feed, tools, etc. were lost in that fire. It was a devastating experience for my family. As time was going on, we had to move on and continue living as normally as possible. We cleared our yard from the fire remnants and recovered from the effects of such horrible disaster. As a part of the recovery, we decided to make a purchase for each of us – something that will make us happy. I chose to buy a spinning wheel.
Elizabeth 2 by Ashford arrived at my door in January 2018. Although elegant and beautiful construction, the wheel look extremely intimidating to me. I had no idea how to start learning. I searched for YouTube videos and spinning classes in my area. To my great surprise, the famous Woolery is within a mere forty-minute drive from my house! I live in the country, and the closest grocery store is farther away. I took the beginner class at The Woolery and I am so glad I did. Nancy has a specific teaching method that really helped me master the entire spinning process in just one day.
My choices and possibilities have multiplied infinitely with this new skill of preparing fleece and spinning wool into yarn. Since I learned how to spin, I made a commitment to spin almost every day and definitely every week. I have spun many hundreds of yards of fiber (may be even miles, I am not sure). And I made many articles of clothing with my hand spun yarn.
This little project was my very first piece of work that started from spinning of my yarn and finished as a final article of clothing.
Romney wool is one of the easiest types to use for beginners. These rovings of white and blue Romney fleece were purchased at The Woolery.
The transformation of wool from fleece to the final article had began.
I ended up using my second spinning wheel, Kromsky Symphony for my first project. And I am glad I did. The double treadle gave me such an incredible control of the drive wheel and made my first big project very easy to accomplish.
I spun two bobbins of white and blue single yarns paying very close attention to the thickness of my fibers. I made a typical biginner’s mistake. I overspun my yarn.
This mistake gets corrected to some degree during plying when the yarn unwinds a little. Freshly spun yarn should not be plied on the same day. The yarn rests on the bobbins for 24 hours to set the spinning tension.
After the waiting period the simple yarn strands were plied together to form a two ply yarn.
Below is a picture of my very first plying project. I was happy with the result, considering . . .
After plying, my yarn became much more relaxed. The next step was to remove the yarn from the bobbin and wind it into a skein in preparation for washing. A wool tool called niddy-noddy is used for that purpose.
The next step is to wash and dry the yarn. I slipped the skeins off the niddy-noddy and washed them in hot soapy water. Washing of the wool is very different from regular laundry. Wool is placed in hot soapy water to rest there for 15-20 minutes. Wool is then removed and gently squeezed of water. No agitation in the wash and no wringing is allowed. Otherwise, the wool will felt.
After wash, the wool is rinsed in hot water a few times. A small amount of vinegar is used in the last rinse to remove any residual soap and to condition the wool. The washed skeins are placed on the drying rack to air dry. Sometimes, weights are not used for the drying process. I don’t use any weights. I let the wool dry naturally.
I was pleasantly surprised when I saw how relaxed my overspun wool has become. Plying and washing helped to straighten the kinks.
My next step was to wind the wool into balls. A couple of wool contraptions are used for this. The swift stretches out like an umbrella to hold the skein around its “waste.” And the yarn ball winder creates nicely wound balls of wool.
I could’ve used my sturdy sewing desk for this purpose. But I actually prefer to use my second floor railings for this affair. The umbrella swift opens very widely, and I sure don’t want it to catch on anything or anybody while I wind the strands.
The amount of fleece rovings in the basket above produced these three balls of tightly spun and rather thick yarn.
Being my first spinning project, this yarn is made of a long and slightly coarse type of wool. It is spun using a worsted technique making the yarn very strong and durable. The yarn that is so thick can be good to make socks, hats, or mittens. I decided to knit a pair of mittens since durability may be important here. The tight twist of the thread adds to the durability even more.
I hand knitted this pair of mittens while we were having breakfast. I could definitely see the uneven areas of yarn and I knew where I needed improvement.
My first project gave me an amazing sense of satisfaction seeing the shapeless and fluffy wool transforming into an article of clothing.