Having your own spinning wheel allows you to make the most beautiful yarn exactly the way you want it. You are in control of the colour, thickness, warmth, strength, choice of fibre and twist. You will find it rewarding to create your own unique yarn and if you run out of yarn, you can always spin some more.
The choice of fibre is almost unlimited when you learn to spin. You may prefer to save time and buy wool tops that are already prepared and dyed or you can save money and card wool from local sheep. You can try wool from rare and unusual breeds such as the North Ronaldsay sheep that eats seaweed. If you are feeling adventurous, you can produce your own fibre and start growing a patch of flax on an allotment or raising tussah silk worms on oak leaves.
You can even go a step further and blend fibres to get your own mix that is as warm or as soft as you want. By blending mohair with Blue-faced Leicester wool for example and spinning it finely you can create you own 3-ply warm and strong sock wool.
The soothing repetition of spinning together with the comforting feeling of touching soft warm fibre can help you relax after a stressful day. Spinning can also be inspirational, hands and feet are gently occupied giving the brain space to think and I often have my best ideas while sitting by the spinning wheel.
You may feel satisfaction from knowing that somebody 32 thousand years ago was doing exactly what you are doing now, spinning fibre. You can dream of spinning flax near a pyramid watching a pharaoh pass by, creating embroidery wool with a drop spindle in a castle, spinning by the shore for the sail cloth of a Viking ship or spinning alpaca in the Andes. Then you come back to the present knowing that you can spin for pleasure, rather than having to spend more time than you want twirling a drop spindle just to be able to clothe you and your family.
Advantages of Hand Spun Yarn
In contrast to the mechanical regularity of most commercial yarns, the variation in the thickness of the hand spun yarn introduces an attractive unevenness into knitting, softening lines and adding a natural look to your work. Instead of getting bored with the predictability of commercial yarns, your eyes delight on the diversity of hand spun yarn and your hands get excited by the pleasant surprises that the next stitch brings.
Hand Spun yarn is also a great motivator. You may find that you cannot wait to get back to work on your knitted scarf, and you will most likely end up with no abandoned projects. When you use natural dyes on your hand spun wool, your jumpers have a natural vibrant quality to them that comes only from hand-crafted work.
Modern spinning wheels are easy to use and maintain, and the new travel wheels are light and fold neatly into a canvas bag. Having a portable wheel allows you to turn spinning into an enjoyable social activity through attending spinners meetings and taking part in their demonstrations.
Teresinha Roberts is a Brazilian-born textile artist with an MSc in Biology and a City & Guilds in Embroidery. She specializes in spinning wool and natural dyes and is a member of the Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. Teresinha is regularly invited to talk to weavers, spinners, dyers, embroiderers, botanical and environmental groups, amongst others. Visit our website at http://www.wildfibres.co.uk today to buy your own spinning wheel and to learn more about natural fibres.