|The fibre actually still smells like sheep which is comforting in a weird way...|
I've been wanting to spin my own yarn for ages now and I finally got a drop spindle! I was down Broadway Market on Saturday and managed to pick up a great kit from the lovely woolly shop Fabrications.
The kit cost £12 and contained the wooden spindle with instructions, oodles of merino wool fibre in three different colours plus some sweet little surprise pouches filled with silk (and a cocoon!), flax and jute (plant fibres). It's an amazing starter kit and I spent all of Sunday happily spinning away until I could tease and twist no more.
I'm definitely no expert but this is how I did it: first I took the roving (the unspun fibre-sausage thing) and gently teased - or 'drafted' - the whole length out to the thinnest continuous sliver I could manage without it breaking. That part was really meditative and satisfying. Then I attached it to the spindle with the help of a leader yarn and a half hitch. (I'll post a video tutorial of this once I've had a bit more practice...) Then it's simply a process of spinning the spindle to add twist to the fibre while simultaneously allowing the spindle to gradually drop thereby letting the twist travel along the fibre length. Unhitch, wind the length of spun yarn, re-hitch and repeat. It was awkward at first but you soon get the hang of it.
I (eventually!) made two small balls of spun yarn, then came the really fun bit - plying them together. Plying adds strength to the yarn and I think it looks especially cool when your yarns are uneven like mine! The thin bits twist around the fat lofty bits to create really interesting textures and a distinctly handmade look which I love. To ply you need to lay the yarns parallel onto the spindle (attaching in the same way as before) and then the process is pretty much the same only this time you spin in the opposite direction. I found that the yarns naturally wanted to twist together in a very clingy scientific way so this part went really quickly.