Woodcut with woman spinning with a spinning wheel

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Part of my weekend at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival was taking a full day class in beginning wheel spinning.  I was so excited to take this.  I have been thinking for years about having a spinning wheel and learning how to spin.  I am not sure what was holding me back, but perhaps the empty nester syndrome gave me the courage, opportunity, space and time to consider learning this new task.

The class was taught by Mary Underwood from Ann Arbor, Michigan.  I had originally tried to sign up for the Sunday spinning class a couple of months ago, and missed the last spot by 5 minutes (registration initially went through, then I got an email that it had already been full).  I agreed to be put on a waiting list, and fortunate for me, Mary agreed to teach this Sunday class.  I was joined in the class by three friends, Manning, Amy and Christina.

The class was small, 10 people, so the attention by the instructor was fabulous.  We got the basics enough to make me dangerous on the wheel.  I wish that it had been a 2 day course, but now I have an excuse to look for another teacher and another class to keep me progressing.  I learned how to start the wheel, sort of get tension, correct problems when I break the fiber, and ply yarn.  My first “skein” (in quotations as that word should be used very loosely here):

As fate would have it, I was looking online earlier in the week at spinning wheels that would be good for a beginner.  The class allowed you to rent a wheel for the day to practice on.  I had arranged for the rental, then saw a posting on Ravelry in my guild’s forum of a spinning wheel for sale.  An Ashford Traditional, one recommended by many as a good beginning wheel.  The seller lived a bit outside of Chicago, but was going to the Wool Festival, and would meet someone there.  How perfect!  I agreed to purchase this, sight unseen, knowing nothing about wheels.  I picked it up at noon on Saturday, and with my husband’s help, took it to the class.  I was able to make my first spinning attempts on my own wheel!

My spinning in the morning was much better than the afternoon.  Life was busy when I got home, and I just tried it last night again, the first since the class.  I started to get the hang of it, but quit when the fibers became too bulky.  I need to really work on the drafting of the fibers.  You have to pedal with your feet, draft the fibers with one hand, and control the twist and take-up with the other.  Much more complicated than standing on one foot and rubbing your belly!

I watched several YouTube videos yesterday before trying spinning again.  I found this one helpful in going over the basics mechanics of the spinning wheel, and this one great for a beginners refresher course on how to spin.  This woman has several other spinning videos which I am sure I will visit often.  It is recommended to try to spin for just 10 minutes a day at the beginning.

I had my first spinning dream last night.  I was doing quite well.