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What a glorious colour the yarn is. And I can wait to see your spinner at work!


Oh, what glorious alpaca. There is a UK Spinners Group on Ravelry and I'm sure members of that can explain how to prepare those lovely locks. I'm afraid spindle spinning is beyond me. But I was so determined to spin that I invested in a wheel. Be warned: it is an addicitive hobby.


Looking forward to seeing your progress. I recently attended a local sheep fair and whilst there I got chatting to some representatives from my nearest spinning and weaving group. (I purchased a drop spindle about this time last year and still haven't used it.) I'll be going along to their next meeting for the first time soon, so if I get any good tips I'll pass them on. Please let me know if you pick up any, perhaps we can compare notes as we go?


Head to the lovely Ruth at Crafty People blog ( thence be directed to the most wonderful UK online list of spinners and weavers who share so much so willingly.I have a spindle, carders, a wheel the lot and soon the time to do it I hope, until now I've just sent blobs of rovings off to Ruth for her to play with and carried on buying my wool ready-to-knit.


There's a UK Spindlers on ravelry as well now (not that I'm enabling or anything).
The shop is offline until tomorrow morning - I just got back from the annual Battleby Gathering of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers, and what's left is all still in boxes.

If you are looking for a book I would recommend "Spinning in the Old Way" which is inexpensive (about £6 from The Book Depository) and more importantly, aimed at spindlers in particular rather than seeing spindling as a passing fancy before you become a so-called "proper spinner" and get a wheel.

Today I also collected my new spindle, a Golding 2" in Lignum Vitae... it's just gorgeous. You'll have a spindle-stash in no time!



I'm no expert, but if you're stuck tomorrow I'll be in K1 all day and more than happy to help :)

Peter the flautist

I think a bunch of very clever Brits invented some strange and wonderful mechanical devices for this exact purpose a couple of centuries ago. Check out some of those old and splendid buildings on the banks of the Tay near Bertha camp for some insight!

Frivolous Cat

Lisa W

I will be interested to follow your spinning progress. This is something that I have also wanted to try for awhile. There is a talented woman not too far from us that teaches spinning, dyeing, etc. This past summer, I had a rug hooking class when we were on PEI. Once I am up to speed on the hooking,I will give spinning a whirl!


Your beautiful fleece!! Love it... I wouldn't wash it _first_ - but would wait til after it's spun. You can pick out the major foreign objects like burrs, etc.

Personally, I find the drop spindle much harder than a wheel - have never been able to use the spindle. When I belonged to a Spinners/Dyers group we had a young woman from one of the Scandinavian countries (pardon me - it was a very long time ago & I have forgotten which one - just remember her lovely accent) - and she used a _large_ spindle against her thigh as she sat in the floor. Fascinating...

Now, one fairly easy way to attack a fleece that I liked very much - and found preferable to my cards (which I wanted so very much in the beginning) - and that is _flicking_.

Flicking: 1) Find a small board or other sturdy piece of wood to hold in your lap or on your knee. 2) Next, find a 'flicker' - it's actually a dog-grooming item - looks like a small card - fitted out with wire thingys, crooked near the end. 3) Take a _really_ small batch/parcel of fleece - hopefully it's not scrambled/mixed up, but can be taken with the fibers more or less aligned. 4) Pinch together one end of this batch, and place your hand and fleece against the wood. 5) With the flicker, hit the fleece against the wood with (hate to use this term but can't come up with another) a snatching move - or, popping move. Do this several times - til you see the fibers separate. STATIC electricity does its magic. 6) Swap ends of the batch of fleece & do the same thing again.

The STATIC also separates out the trashy bits. You'll be left with a nice square or rectangle of straightened fibers. Holding on to that, pull a very small amount out from the top of one side (dare I call it a corner? :-) ). By flicking to prepare the fleece for spinning, there is this nicely aligned batch of fleece to spin from - as opposed to preparing longer strands of roving. It's a lot quicker too - gets you into the spinning faster.

As you spin, pull slightly on it and the other fibers will begin to follow. You'll develop your own method of handling the stuff and letting out just the amount you want for the size yarn you want to spin.

Well, that's how I spun fleece with a wheel - and would hope it works just as well with a spindle.

I hope that's not a bundle of mush to read!! It sounds odd, it does - but, it works. I found it fascinating when I first saw it demonstrated at one of the meetings - and never used my cards again.

Now, I cannot tell you how long it's been since I've done any spinning - cannot remember, to tell the truth - but, _flicking_ is very clear in my mind still.

Sorry for such a long post!! Takes up so much room - but, I got started 'talking' to you about this - and I do tend to rattle on.

Sussex Yorkie

Its addictive! Enjoy.


I got very excited a couple of days ago to see that there were two adult education courses in my local area for Spinning. Luckily, before I signed up, I checked where they were held.

In the leisure centre.

In a room full of bikes.

Oh dear.


I sold my spinning wheel (Ashford from Australia) so many years ago, I can't even remember when. But I still have my carders and now collect the deadly looking flax hetchels. I never could manage a drop spindle.

I thought Nancy's description was quite interesting and sounded like it would work and be easier and quicker than using carders. But it does seem as though you would want to do something in the way of aligning fibers and getting the bits out before — rather than after — based on my experience with most sheep's wool.

Barbara MacLeod

'Way back in the 1970s I obtained a fleece from a farmer. It was very oily (ie lanolin) and very dirty (as opposed to being full of heather etc). Now I suppose the good folk of long ago (well, actually not that long ago) would put the fleece in the burn and let nature do the work. I stuck it in the washing machine on 'cold water rinse'. Came out fine! It still retained the oil and got rid of the guck. How could one possibly card it without getting rid of the dirt first?!


I foresee the TBR pile may not get any smaller now with the advent of that little beauty...


I don't have any great advice, but I'm excited to hear what you think of it! I love spinning in a totally different way than I do knitting. :0)


I'm still trying to master the knitting process. I'm currently doing a pair of socks that seem to be turning out fairly well. My first couple attempts were less than stellar. I'll be anxious to see how the spinning goes. I can see how it could become addictive.


Oh Karen this is a very slippery slope indeed - but such a fun one! There is nothing like spinning your own yarn for knitting.
Many years ago I aquired a sheeps wool fleece, which eventually after many steps I actually managed to spin in to some usable yarn. Not sure about Alpaca - but with a sheeps wool fleece it needs to be sorted first (ie get out the twigs, poo etc that are stuck to the fleece - by hand of course). It then needs to be carded in to little rolls and then finally after all that it's time to spin it. You will then need to ply it and wash it before even starting to knit with it.
Looking forward to seeing how you get on - you will either love the process or have a new appreciation for commercial spinners by the time you are done thats for sure!


Just Saturday while sitting at the spinning circle at the local fiber festival a woman approached me when she saw I was using a spindle just like what she'd just purchased. She told me of the book and dvd she'd also bought but they had to be mailed since the vendor had run out. Would I mind giving her a few tips? Laughing I told her the book and dvd were by me and I'd be delighted to help. In her eagerness to begin spinning she'd bought a few ounces of Alpaca.

That was my introduction to spinning alpaca. What I found was it's quite long and slippery. You will most likely need to hold your hands further apart when drafting then with Natalie's rovings. Her rovings will spoil you! :-) I first learned to spin using bombyx silk. If your heart calls for the fine alpaca fibers then follow your heart! Let your hands learn to feel the fiber no matter what type it is - how far apart to hold while drafting, how slippery it may be, etc.

When spindling hold the spindle suspended over a table so you can quickly let it rest on the table if things feel out of control. Or sit in a chair with the spindle hovering near the floor.

Practice drafting. Predraft several yards of the roving before picking up the spindle It's easier to learn one new skill at a time.

As for the alpaca; If you have a top loading washing machine you can fill it up with hot sudsy water, gently submerge the alpaca and let soak (do not agitate) for an hour or so then spin out the water. You may want to do that a couple more times depending on how dirty the fleece is. Remove the fiber before refilling the washer. Spread the spun fiber out on a screen placed on sawhorses to dry.

I echo the flicker idea - much quicker and easier than carders, and it yields such a soft, lofty fiber. Grab a small handful at the tips end. You can hold onto the tips while combing the cut ends with the flicker, or the way described earlier though that seems a bit more complicated. (I like to keep things simple.)

Most importantly, have fun on this new fiber journey. It's so very soothing and rewarding.


What a coincidence - I bought an Ashford drop spindle on Saturday but so far I am finding it very difficult to manage. I am interested to hear of any tips you can pass on.

lindsay bagshaw

My advice would be to get someone else to do it!! It sounds far too much like hard work to me.

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Please note

  • Sidebar book cover thumbnail pictures are affiliate links to Amazon, and the storefront links to Blackwell's and The Book Depository are also affiliated; should you purchase a book directly through those links, I will receive a small commission. Older posts may also contain affiliate links to one of those bookshops. I am not paid to produce content and all opinions are my own.


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