I decided that with a blog called "spindlewhorl" I had better make an attempt at spinning. So I purchased a spindle (whorl included) from a company called Carolina Homespun. Morgaine Wilder, the owner of the company, was very helpful. I told her that I'm a novice, but I don't think she realized the full extent of my ignorance--I mean, I don't even knit or weave or crochet or anything! I know nothing about fibers or yarns and I have no particular plans for any yarn that might be born as a byproduct of my curiosity. I settled on a beginner's kit with an upgrade spindle, and I was (in theory, at least) ready to spin!
The kit came with a well-illustrated instruction book entitled, "Spin It!" I proceded through a number of steps but never managed to graduate to actually letting the spindle spin itself. I only managed to spin by rolling it down my thigh. Spinning wasn't as frustrating as I thought it would be though, because I did manage to create something approximating yarn on my first try. Unfortunately, when I took it out later to show my husband, it promptly unwound itself. Clearly something was wrong! Knowing me, I didn't read the instructions carefully enough. So for my next try I'll read them again. Also, I think that drafting was my downfall. (Drafting is pulling the fibers out of the larger mass of fiber to prepare them to be incorporated into the yarn.) I've got to work on that. I've got to keep my eye on the "drafting zone."
One reason I wanted to try spinning was to feel closer to those ancestors I was writing about in my last post. So far, I'm not sure I feel closer--but I do feel more in awe of them. It's probably not terribly difficult to produce a small amount of uneven yarn that's full of slubs (lumps), but from my current perspective it seems like it would be impossible to produce large amounts of smooth, even, strong yarn. Yet these women did it. They carded, washed, spun and wove. They were responsible for creating every item of clothing that they and their family wore (which were many, since they lived up close and personal with the Arctic Circle). The medieval Norse women also wove tapestries to warm and decorate their homes and even wove sails for the Viking longships. Imagine how much yarn and thread they needed!
Another aspect of spinning, of course, is that "cosmic" aspect that I went on about in my previous post. In case you're wondering, my first try at spinning didn't bring me into closer touch with the dance of the planets or the music of the cosmos or any such thing. But my hands are twitching to get back to that wool. I'll keep you posted.