Handspinning for Beginners – Starting to Spin
If you are following my other articles at this point you may have your drop spindle and fiber picked out and ready. You may also have either started pre-drafting it in preparation for this article or are ready to do so.
Before I started spinning I watched YouTube videos. You can often get a better idea of form, drafting, adding fiber, wrapping your spindle, etc through videos than you can via text. Especially, if you are a visual learner, like me! They won’t always be using a spindle similar to yours but watching them work and hearing their tips can still be valuable information. When I first started it was suggested I practice using premade yarn, and to wrap a bit on before going ahead and learning important things like: how much spin I would get out of different movements, how my drop spindle moves, how the weight of the drop spindle as well as wrapped on yarn effects the flow and pull, etc. You can get an entire skein of cheap acrylic yarn for a few bucks at most larger craft stores. Small local yarn shops might have something affordable to toy with as well.
To get started you can begin two different ways (that I have tried). One is to pull a loop of fiber from your material and hook it before spinning. I have only seen this done once by an experienced spinner. Generally, people show themselves starting with fiber already attached in videos and such which I will discuss next. To start you can twist the spindle in the direction you desire (the different directions actually effect plying and such so doing research on this beforehand is recommended) after hooking while gently tugging to pull fiber. Or you can try feeding drafted fiber as you twist to get it started. Once you have a good length (at least a foot) unhook the loop and hold it with your thumb against the shaft where you will be building up your yarn. Wrap it in the same direction you are spinning. That way when you spin it won’t as easily come undone. Leave a small bit to add back to the hook then begin again.
If you don’t have a hook or a dent in the shaft cut into your spindle you will need to create a slip knot to wrap around the end of the spindle. Once tightened it will hold and allow you to spin. Drop spindles without any sort of hook or nook are generally support spindles or rarely used types other than where they originate from what I have seen personally. A support spindle rests on a surface to spin. Others I have not touched yet and cannot give any helpful instruction get.
From my workings on my only drop spindle without much of a dent, I know I started with yarn already attached. I took premade yarn and wrapped it to begin before adding fiber to it to spin. This is a bit different from starting as I first mentioned. You will need to use a slip knot or alternatively wrap the end of a piece of yarn already properly wrapped on your spindle around a hook. Or a piece of fiber like I used below. Then hold pre-drafted fiber to an exposed piece about 2 inches or so long. You can twist to get it to attach. Others wet it or rub it with their fingers a bit then get spinning to felt the fibers together. For those using strips of fiber, you will repeat this often. For those who are pulling from one mass, you won’t have to worry about this step unless your yarn/fiber breaks. To fix it simply do as instructed above to start again.
These are basic ideas and instructions on getting started. More research, watching videos and better yet joining a spinning circle or class are recommended. This is simply a little boost to help you become more comfortable.
Here are some of my favorite videos on YouTube to help get you started: