Beginning Spinning

If you missed the lead-up to my becoming a wheel spinner, you can catch up on the backstory here. If you just want to know how to troubleshoot what seem to me, as a new spinner, the two most fundamental issues of working with a spinning wheel, read on.

Failure to Twist

I watched Start Spinning from beginning to end. You can’t watch Maggie Casey working and listen to her voice without feeling like you can do what she’s doing. And yet, when I sat down at my wheel and followed all the instructions, my roving kept breaking.

Having picked up spindle spinning about a year ago, I saw that my problem was that the bobbin was stealing my roving before the twist has time to travel up the yarn. Yarn = wool + twist. No twist, no yarn. It took me a lot of time and hunting to figure out that I needed to loosen my brake tension.

Tension knob on my Ashford Joy
On my Ashford Joy, you turn the knob on the front to loosen the brake tension for the bobbin.

One tip video recommended loosening the brake almost completely just to get started, and that finally got the twist moving.

Failure to Wind

I won’t even tell you how long it took me to realize that I was blithely putting twist into the fiber without the fiber actually getting wound onto the bobbin, but I will say it was too damn long. My fiber was kinking back on itself terribly. I kept running into the issue throughout the evening, and I found two sources for the problem.

1. Brake tension was too loose.

Just undo what you did to get the twist in the fiber initially and tighten the tension on the bobbin. Apparently this knob is all about how quickly the wheel steals your yarn.

2. Check for kinks in the flyer hooks.

This is bad.

Evil yarn snag on flyer hook.

As is this.

Another evil yarn snag.

The yarn should run smoothly through the hooks, but if you’ve got too much twist running into the yarn, it will kink back on itself, which creates opportunities for the fiber to snag on its way to the bobbin.

Bonus Tip: You’re smarter than I am, so you all either understood this or found the magical hidden instructions (seriously, Ashford, how hard would it be to add one sentence to the set-up manual?), but on the Ashford Joy with the Sliding Flyer Hook…you pinch the two sides of the hook together to make it slide. And that’s another thing you don’t need to know how long I took to work out.

The Siren Call of Spinning

Dec. 25, 2012: My husband and parents teamed up and got me a spinning wheel for Christmas. Yay!!!!

Dec. 27, 2012: Oh, god. What do I DO with it? I don’t know how to spin…

Jan. 5, 2013: Should I use the roving I’m working on my spindle? But that’s for a project. And I don’t want to ruin the blue I bought at a fair on my learning curve. New roving! I’ll buy new roving!

Jan. 19, 2013: ($50 worth of non-roving stuff from Knitpicks and two weeks later…) Crap. No I have no excuses.

Jan. 30, 2013: It’s staring at me. It’s been staring at me for over a month and I CAN’T TAKE IT!

Feb. 1, 2013:  Oh! Right! I have to get these socks done first!

Feb. 6, 2013: Crap. The socks are done.

Feb. 8, 2013: But dragon! I need to make the tiny dragon first! That won’t take long at all!

Feb. 8, 2013: (later) Yep. That didn’t take long at all. And it’s…snowing.

Feb. 9, 2013: Alright, ye blonde beauty. You win. I’ll spin.

Be sure to tune in for part 2, in which I try to spin, fail, and eventually succeed, but not very successfully.