It was a bit of an interesting start. Being that I’m new to spinning, I’m also new to spinning wheels. I was lent an old Ashford Traditional wheel by a neighbor last Summer and when I started to try and spin on it, it wasn’t going how I had been shown or watched in videos. I fumbled around for a couple nights, ending in frustration and bewilderment. So I consulted YouTube once again and realized there were some vital pieces missing…the tension knob, tension springs and tension string. I found some Ashford maintenance kits online, but realized I could probably just as easily find the parts at our local hardware store. And that I did. So that evening I fashioned the springs and string and a temporary knob out of a pencil…haha. I’ll replace that part once I find the right sized dowel and knob. And now it works like a charm, as far as I can tell. 🙂
As I began to spin words of wisdom from my class at Verb kept coming back to me…”it’s all about the drafting”…”don’t let go of the fiber”…”steady, steady, steady” and so on. What started as fast and VERY lumpy and VERY bumpy, quickly turned into slow and steady and fairly consistent. About halfway through spinning this first batch I got so excited I kept saying out loud to David, “check it out, I’m a spinner! How awesome is this, I’m making yarn!”…about 10 times. He laughed in encouragement from behind his book. As I progressed through the few ounces of wool, I practiced trying different weights, from fingering to what might be considered worsted and such. All the sudden I looked down and all the wool was gone! It went by so fast I hadn’t even realized, the cadence of it all setting me into a sort of wool trance.
Now a word about this week’s wool, Cotswold.
Tamara White of Wing and a Prayer Farm is a fiber farmer in Vermont and also happens to be one of my closest friends and greatest encouragers so it seemed only fitting I kick off this project with some wool near and dear. Anyone who knows Tammy, knows her huge heart for both human and animal and everything in between. The amount of things this woman accomplishes in a day blows my mind and when I wonder how I’m going to get it all done I think of her and know it’s possible. Between a pie baking business, a full-time farm (Sheep, llamas, alpacas, horses, a pony, chickens, turkeys, peacocks, goats, a pig, donkeys, dogs, cats), yarn making, workshops and retreats, this woman is a machine. Her fiber flock consists of Cotswold, Cormo, Shetland, Corriedale, Merino, Mohair and Alpaca. She sent me a bag of her fluffy Cotswold, a wool I had not yet worked with which made it all the more exciting.
Let me preface my description of this fiber with the disclaimer that while I have learned an immense amount about breed specific wools and yarn making these past two years since starting the Woolful blog, I am still very much new to it all and far from an expert. My descriptions are based on my experience and gut reactions.
This Cotswold fiber is incredibly soft, something that I was slightly surprised by considering I don’t often hear about it. The luster while noticeable in the roving, is far more present in the yarn…an incredible sheen. The staple length is about 6″ and the roving I was sent was milled by Michael of Hampton Fiber Mill, also in Vermont and a guest of the podcast along with Tammy. The finished yarn was incredibly strong too. I’m unsure if this is a common trait of handspun yarn considering it’s twist, but I love the sturdiness of it. The end product has a beautiful soft halo and I couldn’t be more pleased with my first adventure in spinning. I can’t wait to knit the blanket square from it.
You can find Cotswold and other fibers at the Wing and a Prayer Farm store.