Chapter Two of my beginning spinning adventures had me browsing hand dyed fibers on Etsy. I was looking for a suitable beginner’s fiber that I hadn’t tried yet. Polworth, perhaps or Corriedale. I thought I’d try merino off in the future sometime because in my reading, I’d gotten the impression that merino is difficult to spin. “It has a short staple”, I’d read, and “it’s slippery.” Sounded scarey.
But then there was this: The Great Pumpkin, dyed by Unwind Yarn Co. and on sale, people. On Sale! The combination of pretty autumn color and reduced cash outlay was irresistible, and into my cart it tumbled. Rather than the usual variegated braids, this shop is mostly full of the most lovely tonals in rich shades you’d actually wear. Go lookee!
Oh, and did you notice the spindle? That’s new too. Joshua Lynch of Texas Jeans is the craftsman and he made that gorgeous whorl from a maple burl. It’s only two thirds the weight of my Kundert spindle, so I thought it might be more suitable for trying to spin skinnier. It spins wonderfully smooth and is one of the higher quality handmade spindles I’ve seen. So impressed by my find, I asked Mr Lynch how long he’s been working with wood. He explained that he’s been doing this for over 30 years, but made his first drop spindle for his wife Andrea, (another crafty gal like us), about a year ago and found he really enjoyed it. I can see that he does, and I advise those of you who admire mine to get over there and get your own before the spinning world notices, when you won’t be able to get your hands on one, the waiting list will be so long.
I didn’t waste any time preparing soft squishy balls of predrafted merino top for spinning action. But once I got down to it, I was surprised to find my new spindle didn’t have a notch like my Kundert spindle did. As I spun, the singles I wound on started unwinding as I spun a new length of singles. Mmmmmmm. Unsure of what to do, I wandered around the house trying various fixes. Should I cut a notch into my beautiful new spindle? I hated that idea. I added a few pieces of tape to give the yarn some leverage, which sort of helped, then did an online search to try to find a solution.
One of my smart spindling mentors gave me the solution. She explained how many spindles are notchless, and you can wind a length of singles up around the shaft of the spindle above the whorl, then down below the whorl to wind around once or twice before coming back up to the hook. This is perfect. Not only does it give a stop for the yarn to sit against, it reminds me at a glance the size the singles were early in my spinning, so I can readjust if I start getting thicker. Which tends to happen as I get tired and signals me it’s time for a break.
I found another way to solve the notchless spindle dilemma. Here’s Knitty’s take on the solution, which also utilizes fancy wrapping of your singles.
Oh the joy of spinning merino. This stuff drafts like buttah! One thing for sure – you’d better get on with getting your twist in there as you draft. No lollygagging around, or your spindle is going to hit the floor quicker than you can say, “I’m mad for merino!”
Lesson learned? Predrafting totally unnecessary with merino – even, or especially for a new spinner. My sturdy new spindle survived without a single blemish.