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I like crafts. I think it has something to do with liking to have that tactile sensation or not being able to tolerate boredom well. I learned how to knit and crochet thanks to community theater actually. Having something quite to do with your hands backstage certainly made it easier to sit there in the dark between scenes. (Mind out of the gutter folks, I was eleven!)

So this is what a spindle looks like...ignore my photobombing cat

So this is what a spindle looks like…ignore my photo-bombing cat

So today, I wanted to give a quick breakdown on how spinning, in particular hand-spinning with a drop spindle, works. Contrary to what Sleeping Beauty would have you believe, a drop spindle is not sharp, although there are two point ends and doodad in the middle (sometimes closer to the top or bottom) called the whorl. Back in the dark ages or whenever, people made hand spindles out of a stick and a rock (which is the whorl). However, that’s not the case nowadays, and you can buy beautiful spindles made out of exotic woods and the like with different designs.

This is what fibers look like. Mid-grade fibers from wool are commonly called roving.

This is what fibers look like. Mid-grade fibers from wool are commonly called roving.

In any case, I like to make stuff. And since I already know how to knit and crochet, learning how to spin yarn was naturally the next step. For some reason, I expected it to be tedious and vexing, but it’s actually kind of soothing. And when you’re done, you get yarn at the end! Also, another priceless skill to add to the list if there’s ever a zombie apocalypse. If you’re one of the few people who can make clothes by hand, everyone will want you, or well, they should. Especially the sock making. Do you have any idea how fast socks wear out? And when you’re running from zombies all day, you can bet socks make the difference. But I digress.

Keep in mind, before the spinning wheel, hand spindles were how all yarn, ropes, strings, etc. were made from fibers. And while I’m getting faster every time I use my hand spindle, it’s still a time consuming process. And this is why people a long time ago didn’t have gobs of clothes. It’s also why hand spun yarns or hand woven fabrics are so much more costly. And why crafters will make a fortune if they make it through the first wave of zombies. Just saying.

Freshly spun yarn!

Freshly spun yarn!

So the actual spinning part is surprisingly easy, once you get it going. You set the spindle spinning like a top and then stretch the fibers out, a process known as “drafting,” while the spindle twirls. There’s various methods of spinning, from using gravity to draft or a “park and draft” method which is really useful when you’re first starting out. As the fibers twist, yarn is born. Once you stop the spindle from spinning and have drafted out all you can, you wrap the new yarn on the spindle and repeat.

Keep spinning and eventually you’ll have a small ball of single-ply yarn. Most is double plied or greater, which means, you guessed it, more spinning! Still, while it does take up time to make yarn, it makes me feel gobs more productive while watching television or something. I highly recommend giving it a whirl.

Besides, All you writer-ly people out there might find use for spinning in a book one day. Plus, I have every certainty spinning will be a hot commodity skill when the zombies come. You can thank me later.