I bought a little spinning wheel. It’s about the size of an SLR camera and weighs a fraction as much. It came from a Kickstarter campaign I backed. I paid about $50 and like my other favourite Kickstarter reward, it delivered not just on time but early! It runs off DC power with a tiny little motor. Years ago I spent a couple of days experimenting with a borrowed treadle spinning wheel and some (in retrospect) appallingly poor-quality fleece. The result was some ‘rustic yarn,’ and the sense of gratification was short-lived. This time around I have used proper spinning-quality roving I purchased, and have made more of an effort to finesse my skills. I am doing much better, and am entirely smitten with the process. What’s most fascinating to me is the way the colours meld.
The photo above shows the first stages of the progression. I start with a big pillow of fleece dyed in swaths of different colours, some quite bright and prominent. As I spin one strand at a time onto the bobbin the colours take turns, sometimes blending a bit as they do. Then, when I ply the strands together into a ball of yarn, the dark and light colours entwine each other as often as not, and the brights become tempered.
And then, finally, when the yarn is knitted up into a small project, the knitting creates even more blending and muting. This Scrunchable Scarf ended up being an amazing dapple of forest colours: moss, leaves, humus, lichen, bark and twigs. I would never have guessed how muted it would turn out from looking at the bold brights in the original roving.
When I chose fleece for my second project, I decided to try for something a bit lighter and brighter. I found some fun glittery stuff, but I could tell from my previous experience that the purples were likely to overwhelm the lighter oranges, pinks and silvers. So I paired it with half as much plain sunflower fleece. Here are the pre- and post-spinning results. It looks like an awful lot of yellow:
But here’s the result: still predominantly purple-pink, but with proper yellows peeking out from time to time. It is just about what I was expecting!
Here’s another thing: I YouTube-taught myself to solder, in order to install a reverse switch. The original way to reverse the direction (necessary for plying) was to put a figure-eight in the drive belt, but that was causing a fair bit of friction and was unnecessarily fiddly. So I Amazon’d me a DPTP switch and got all the wires going to the right places. And … it worked!
But I burned the motor out after just a few weeks. It’s a known issue with this little wheel if the uptake tension isn’t kept very low, exacerbated by the figure-eight drive belt issue I mentioned. They’re sending me a free replacement which is great, and I think I can avoid problems now that I have the reverse switch and know to minimize the tension. I hope it gets here soon; I’m missing the daily meditative colour-play.
Also, it’s obvious I need a full-size traditional wheel as well. Need. Yeah.
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