Can one learn to spin without a teacher?

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hazelcb wrote
on Feb 27, 2012 5:17 PM

I'm a total newbie--OK, I did spin on a spindle many years ago, and I've forgotten everything I learned then--and I'm wondering if it's possible to learn how to spindle spin on one's own, without a teacher. (I'm looking for a teacher but haven't found one yet.) I've heard that there are many Youtube videos on how to spindle spin. Does anyone have any recommendations on what videos to watch or what methods to use? Or are there some DVDs to buy that a beginner can't live without?

FWIW, I'm left-handed. I remember that, when I used to try to spin in the past, I spun "backward." Is this a problem in my learning to spin?

Thanks for your help!

Hazel

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Mary Timme wrote
on Feb 28, 2012 11:21 AM

Absolutely you can learn to spin without a teacher.  I had a bit of help with a bicycle looking wheel and am now learning to spin by hand with a book.  I've also had two DVD's to watch on spindles and you can do it.  For me the best thing was hearing others say, "That's all right, I did that too, just unwind and get your fibers apart . . .:" , and off I'd go again and then they'd say, just fluff up the ends and start again and I went on from there.  I wouldn't start with quivet as a first time fleece.  It has to be de-haired and combed to work well and be soft and with a long staple (How long the fiber is between your hands as you test pulling it apart.) it takes less twist.  All of this is in books and DVD's and available to you.  I'm sure there are tutorials in "Spin-Off" and else where on this website too.  Just keep on.  If you haven't spun before you'll feel like all thumbs and it may help to watch someone else at a wheel or spindle.  They make it seem easy, but it is all muscle memory and practice.  Just keep going.   

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Mary Timme wrote
on Feb 28, 2012 11:21 AM

Absolutely you can learn to spin without a teacher.  I had a bit of help with a bicycle looking wheel and am now learning to spin by hand with a book.  I've also had two DVD's to watch on spindles and you can do it.  For me the best thing was hearing others say, "That's all right, I did that too, just unwind and get your fibers apart . . .:" , and off I'd go again and then they'd say, just fluff up the ends and start again and I went on from there.  I wouldn't start with quivet as a first time fleece.  It has to be de-haired and combed to work well and be soft and with a long staple (How long the fiber is between your hands as you test pulling it apart.) it takes less twist.  All of this is in books and DVD's and available to you.  I'm sure there are tutorials in "Spin-Off" and else where on this website too.  Just keep on.  If you haven't spun before you'll feel like all thumbs and it may help to watch someone else at a wheel or spindle.  They make it seem easy, but it is all muscle memory and practice.  Just keep going.   

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Mary Timme wrote
on Feb 28, 2012 11:23 AM

I forgot to mention that the I like Respect the Spindle and anything by Maggie Casey for DVD's.  

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hazelcb wrote
on Feb 28, 2012 1:03 PM

Thank you so much for the vote of confidence! I've ordered a Spindolyn, and I'm waiting for that to come in. Keep your fingers crossed that I can figure out how to use it! (It does come with instructions and with an online video.)

Hazel

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dsousa wrote
on Mar 11, 2012 7:22 PM

I learned without a teacher. Since back then the internet was much more limited, I had to make do with a spindle I bought from a catalog and the writen instructions that came with it. No YouTube video's then!

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Richardrwg wrote
on Nov 21, 2012 5:12 PM

I realize that this is a little late in the posting, but yes, you can learn without a teacher. Granted, learning from a teacher is ALWAYS the best, having someone there to guide you and answer questions would make it easier and probably more fun, but.....

I had no one to guide me at all, so after giving it some thought I learned as much as I could watching as many videos on youtube as I could find, there is a wealth of information there. I also bought a DVD from Abby Franquemont, that was a worthy purchase, and then I went to work.

The one big thing to remember is there is a learning curve, DO NOT be discouraged, the fleece will separate on you, the wheel will backspin if your timing is off and other little things. Ignore these other than learning what went wrong.

The very best advise I can give is this, practice just sitting at the wheel and getting it to spin with an easy motion. I sat in front of the tv and just let my foot do it's thing, I still do at times.

If you have any questions, ask.

Richard

 

The ONLY difference between an accomplished spinner and a new one who feels they don't have "the touch for it", is practice and not quitting.

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BGMeyer wrote
on Dec 17, 2012 4:35 PM

Remember too that YouTube is your friend. Enter the subject you want (in this case Spindolyn or spindle spinning and find LOTS of people who will be glad to show you how.

barb

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ehalseth wrote
on Dec 19, 2012 12:32 PM

I bought The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook thinking it was a tutorial on knitting socks. They are tricky; they start with dyeing, then spinning, then knitting. So, I ordered a spindle and some roving from eBay and taught myself to spin. At the time I did not have access to You Tube, so I just kept trying until I made semi-decent yarn.  After a year or so of spindle spinning I bought a wheel, and I've never looked back.

Ellen

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hazelcb wrote
on Dec 19, 2012 12:37 PM

Now I've been fortunate to find a teacher, or, rather, several teachers. That's been an enormous help. And I'm on a knitting, crocheting, and spinning list, "Knitters' Paradise," where I've asked questions about spindle spinning. My yarn looks much better than it used to, that's for sure! And my Spindolyns have been unsurpassed in helping me to become a better spinner.

I've wondered about a wheel. I think I'd like to have a charkha, to spin cotton on, but I don't know if I want a spinning wheel per se. How did you decide that you wanted a spinning wheel? How did you pick out the one you wanted? Do you still spindle spin?

Hazel

 

 

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Richardrwg wrote
on Dec 21, 2012 6:54 AM

The wheel I picked was by price, it's a single treadle Lendrum. It was a good choice to me as it's a very basic, uncomplicated wheel and it's easily portable. It also has a very small footprint if space is an issue.  One suggestion I would make is to research if there is a spinning guild that meets near enough for you to attend. I recently attended one and intend to join. These are great people who will tell you the good and bad about their wheels (be ready they will all be positive about their wheels) and let you try them to see how you like it. I was surprised by how many Lendrums I saw there.

The reason I went to the wheel is because I'm not a knitter, no interest, but the wheel intrigued me and my fiancee knits. So she keeps me well supplied in what she wants to knit. Bear in mind that once you learn to spin, you are not at the mercy of yarn companies for what you can spin. You will be able to choose what types of fibers, what colors you want as well as what colors you like plied. It really does open up your knitting choices. And you can then see your final product knowing that you you knitted it, but you created the yarn to do it with.

That you have already been spinning on a spindle will give you a big advantage on the wheel, you already have the concept of drafting and trusting the spin to hold.

I do still use the drop spindle, especially if I'm working with silk, to me silk is fin on the spindle, in fact I'm looking getting one of  the supported drop spindles to learn on.

 

The ONLY difference between an accomplished spinner and a new one who feels they don't have "the touch for it", is practice and not quitting.

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hazelcb wrote
on Dec 21, 2012 12:19 PM

Thank you so much for your thoughtful response! I hope, at some point, to take a spinning wheel class, and I hope I get to try out a lot of wheels. Like you, I'd want a wheel that was portable and didn't take up a lot of space. And price would be a major consideration; I know that there are some VERY expensive wheels out there, but they're definitely not for me!

Again, thanks so much for your response. You've givenn me a lot to think about. Right now, I'm so thrilled with being able to spindle spin better that I can hardly tell you!

Hazel in Tallahassee, Florida

 

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BGMeyer wrote
on Dec 23, 2012 7:49 AM

YAY! that you can spin better all the time! Some people never get past spindle--our ancestors didn't!  But don't discount that you NEVER will. Wheels can be expensive and a cheaper wheel (not that they are ever really  that cheap!) is not necessarily a bad wheel. But there are marketplace sites where you can sometimes buy used (er, pre-owned) spinning supplies (even wheels) cheaper, just be careful. Check out yahoo groups and ask around.

 

For myself, I desired a Schacht wheel from the time it came out, 25 years ago. At that time, I felt I could not afford the $550 they cost and resigned myself to working with my Clemes Modern that a friend had GIVEN to me when she bought something better. This last year, as  I started a Master Spinning program, I drooled over the Schacht Matchless (as it is now called) in a catalog and STILL felt that at $1100 I couldn't afford it. Then someone came to class complaining that she had a Schacht and didn't like it, it didn't work well for her and she wanted to resell it. (She had bought it used.) I bought it off her for $350, spent $75 to have it reconditioned...and now I have the Schacht original wheel I thought I couldn't ever afford....for $425!

Barb

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hazelcb wrote
on Dec 23, 2012 9:55 AM

It was wonderful to hear about your "adventures" with spinning wheels! Maybe some day I'll learn how to spin on one. And then, of course, I'll want to buy one.  ;-) 

Right now, I'm pretty sure I'd like to buy a charkha to spin cotton on. But I think I'll wait until I can take a class on charkha spinning. I'm planning on going to the Southeastern Area Fiber Fest (I hope that's the correct wording) in Asheville, NC, in October, and they usually have a charkha spinning class there.

I'm thrilled to be able to spin and to ply on my hand spindles! It's so exciting that it's gone from frustrating to fun!

I'll keep my eyes open for wheel deals, though. Thanks for telling me about yours.

Hazel in Tallahassee, Florida

 

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zerinajam wrote
on Dec 27, 2012 3:08 PM

My first wheel was an Ashford Traditional. They are plentiful and inexpensive. I bought mine for $150, and I've seen them for less. It is a great wheel to start with, and I happily put hours on mine and invested in a jumbo flyer and bobbins while I discovered what I wanted to spin.

 I have gotten some really pretty spindles on Etsy - nothing renews your enthusiasm like getting a new spindle in the mail! - and often the sellers will send you a fiber sample. That's how I got into silk hankies. I highly reccommend silk hankies. Try just pulling the fiber from the corner. You can get a superfine shiny thread that hardly ever breaks, in gorgeous colors!

  Have fun, and good luck!

- Leah in Victoria, Canada

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