Table of Contents


Brief History of Spinning

Handspinning - Why?

Wool and Other Fibres for Handspinners

Preparing Wool for Handspinning

Thoughts on Learning to Spin

Basic Rules for Spinning with a Flyer Wheel

Spinning Wheels

How Flyer Wheels Work

Choosing a Spinning Wheel

Buying a Spinning Wheel

Indian Book or Box Charkha


Introduction to Handspindles

Spindle Reviews

Tips and Tricks for Spindle Spinning

Building Your Own


Lazy Kate

Knitting Needles





Links - Handspinning on the Web



Life on the Farm


Address and legal information

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Thoughts on Learning to Spin

Recently I read that somebody was very unhappy with her first attempts at spinning. This person was frustrated because lots of people post pictures of beautiful "first yarns" on their blogs. For her and everybody else in the same position, here are my first attempts at spinning:

My first yarn, a very irregular single This was my very first yarn, spun in 20 minutes under the direction of a lady demonstrating spinning at a harvest festival featuring old crafts. The wool was machine-carded, and the "instrument of torture" a much too heavy beginner's spindle (I believe an old Ashford model, but I may be wrong). The resulting yarn is nothing to be proud of, but it was a start!

My second yarn, a very irregular two-ply This is my second yarn. If it looks worse than the first, that's probably because I was working with a handful of raw wool that I had picked up on a farm. Besides, I now had a home-made spindle which probably didn't spin all that well. I can't verify any more because I gave it to a lady who breeds Angora goats and thought about learning to spin, too.

My third yarn, a mohair knitted into a wrist distaffSaid lady gave me the mohair for my next spinning attempts. Now, mohair is not the perfect yarn to practice on for a beginner because it's so slippery. But I didn't know that. Besides, I didn't have any cards, so I couldn't really smooth out the fibre. And unwashed mohair can be rather sticky, as well! So, between only perfunctorily washing the fibre and teasing it open with my fingers I succeeded in making a yarn that I deemed worthy to be knitted up into a wrist distaff.

For by now I had received some books on spinning, amongst others Spin-Off: A Handspindle Treasury, which not only motivated me further, but also contained a lot of useful instructions, amongst others those for a knitted wrist distaff. I was deligthed to see how well knitting hides most imperfections in the spinning! (By the way: at the time a smoother yarn wouldn't neccessarily made my stitches more even.)

What's the point of this page? I want to show you that the very first beginnings are difficult and that the first yarns do not come out even. That's normal. Do you remember your first attempts at writing? When you laboriously put a pen to paper and tried to copy your letters - wasn't it hard work? But nowadays you write your shopping list without thinking about the act of writing. Handspinning is the same. It's a new skill to acquire, and that's really all there is to it. You don't need any special physical or mental abilities. Just give yourself time. Time to practice, and time between practice to let the movements settle into your muscle memory. And remember: Knitting (or crocheting) smoothes out a lot of unevenness, and if the yarn is really horrible, you might try to felt the finished object.

The crocheted bag here in the gallery came about that way: After watching Mable Ross's video I wanted to learn spinning long-draw. My first attempts at that were about as "nice" as my very first yarn. But the finished bag (felted with a load of laundry in the washing machine) looks alright!

Page updated: 30 August 2007