Spinning Yarn and History

A few weeks ago I went to Highland Games and Scottish Clan gathering here in Washington. I actually do have a couple of Scottish ancestor's but that was not the fun part for me. What I really enjoyed were the historical/fiber demonstrations. After all, Scotland is well known for its wool and intricate fairisle knitting. So when I got to see a black faced sheep in person I was smitten.

I also got to see a lady spinning yarn with a drop spindle. I knew such things existed. I also knew I had no idea how it worked...but I do now! Thank you, interpreters of the past, for giving me yet another thing to do while watching tv.

Making yarn with a drop spindle takes about as much concentration as a simple knitting pattern (less the more your practice) and you end up with something that you then get to knit with! Win win! I would make a video to show you how it is done but I am still in the learning stages myself so instead I will direct your to some other videos that will do a better job than I could.

This first video is a short, concise, introduction to get you started.

http://www.YARN.com -- Learn how to spin on a drop spindle with WEBS spinning instructor Ashley Flagg. 

This video also describes different types of roving (the fluffy stuff you need to make the yarn) that you might want to use.

Jody from Alpaca Direct explains how hand spinning works and demonstrates the use of a drop spindle with our Alpaca wool roving.

But by far my favorite video is this one from the 1970's. It doesn't show you have to use a drop spindle but it does show some old Irish ladies making yarn the way they have for generations. It makes me really thankful that I can try and make my own yarn if I want but that I can also go buy yarn already made and don't have to rely on my spinning skills to keep warm during the winter.

When I get my first sample of spinning done I will take some pictures to let you see how it turns out. If you are keen to try spinning for yourself then there are videos on how to make your own drop spindle or you can buy one on-line for less than $20. I got mine last weekend at a Renaissance festival where a very nice lady let me try it out first.

Next step is getting a spinning wheel...

UPDATE I've found a couple more videos that you might find useful. This first one gives a quick (and humorous) overview of how wool gets from the sheep to the drop spindle.

Jenna goes through the process of making yarn by hand using simple hand tools. 

Then there is this video that shows you what to do with the yarn once you have made it. Making yarn is fun but it is also time consuming.

I hope these videos inspire you to give spinning a try or at least give you a better understanding of how your yarn goes from sheep to needles.