Daves Spinning Page!
OK ....... I've heard all the wisecracks before! What's a MAN doing spinning? Isn't it just for women?
I have to admit that the idea of a man being involved with spinning wool or silk on a spinning wheel is a little unusual but it is by no means unique. With everyone insisting on sexual equality these days, we men have got to fight back and show that many areas traditionally claimed by the fairer sex are no longer purely theirs! Joking apart, there are fringe advantages for men who spin ................... when I attend a local Spinners Guild meeting I'm the only male amongst the 20 females there.
So how did I become involved and interested in spinning? Spinning wheels are always something that have fascinated me whever I saw them in antique shops or on TV and I've always hankered to "have a go". Unfortunately in the days prior to the internet, I found it impossible to find out either where to get a wheel from, and more importantly, I could find nobody to teach me how to do it ..................... believe you me, it's not something i would recommend that you just "pick up" as you go along, you'd soon get frustrated.
Around 12 years ago I came across someone who showed me the ropes for a day, then 6 months later I spent a further half day being taught by a "professional". Since those two early encounters with "spinners", I never met anyone else who spun so I just picked things up as I went along, developed my own unique style, and it was only just over 2 years ago that I was introduced to other local Spinners through the local "Spinners, Weavers and Dyers Guild" in North Cheshire (meets 4th Saturday each month at 10.30 at Croft Memorial Hall, Croft, near Culcheth, Warrington).
I started spinning using an Ashford Traditional wheel then bought a Haldane Orkney portable one. These two wheels have now gone and I currently use a Timbertops Jubilee wheel along with a small foldable Ashford Joy wheel both of which can be seen in the photo above. So far as I'm concerned I have the best possible wheels for producing virtually every kind of threads that I would wish to make. Usually I spin wool either direct from the sheeps fleece (obtained very cheaply or free from local farmers) or from pre-washed, carded wool which is obtainable from specialist dealers. I also enjoy spinning silk, usually dyed in multi colours, this producing a beautiful strong fine thread. I also spin from manmade fibres including some rather odd stuff made from recycled plastic bottles. I get no pleasure whatsoever spinning cotton or pet fur although both are fairly easy to spin once you've got the knack.
My initial problem was how to get rid of all the wool I managed to produced especially as I couldn't knit, crochet or weave ..... and after my wife knitted a couple of bob hats for me she soon decided she preferred knitting with her "shop bought" wool instead of my creations! Initially I gave most of the wool away to others who appreciated it's "distinctive style" - this is an apt description of the early mishapen and uneven threads produced. After more practice, the quality and texture of the wool made improved dramatically, and I started weaving on a home made loom and the arrival of my crochet talents now mean I can make "something" out of any wool I spin. Very satisfying to be able to start with a raw fleece and to end up with something useful, knowing that the whole lot has been done by hand by myself.
So how do YOU start? You can actually start producing wool by hand very easily and without even buying a spinning wheel by using what is called a "drop spindle". Even a child can learn how to use one of these and it DOES produce usable yarn although at a much slower rate than a wheel would do the same job. A drop spindle can be bought for just a few pounds (it's really just a bit of dowel rod with a circular disc fixed one third of the way down it's length) and instructions for using it can be easily found on the web (or here). Add a handful of fleece collected from the local farmers barbed wire fence and away you go!
If you get hooked then it's time to buy a wheel. Just type the words "spinning wheel" into a search engine such as Google and you should get plenty of information on a variety of wheels. Wheel prices go from around £90 for a second hand one with new ones costing from around £180. It IS possible to learn to spin on your own but even an hour sat with an experienced spinner might save you days of frustration. There are plenty of books available on spinning ...... Amazon.com (USA) or Amazon.co.uk (UK - click on the Amazon link below) can provide most titles from stock