I've always enjoyed the challenge of learning a new skill and a class I took about a month ago has had me on a fairly steep learning curve ever since. I drove up to Twist Fibre Craft Studio in Newburgh in the north of Fife to learn how to use the drop spindle I bought at Woolfest last year.
I'd had a little go at using it but nothing had clicked and I decided that tuition was the way forward.
Initially, I used a top-whorl spindle supplied in the class and managed to produce some knobbly, hairy almost-yarn from some carded Icelandic wool. I then managed pretty much the same with my bottom-whorl spindle.
I bought some combed silk - merino tops to take home with me and started that evening and fairly quickly produced a spindle full of singles.
A quick watch of videos on the internet and I tried navajo plying it with pretty good success.
These skeins are on the small side and the yarn is a bit hard (I think that I over spun it).
Next I remembered about the mixed bag of combed merino tops I bought from Wingham Wool Work at Woolfest two years ago. I got it out and realised that I pretty much had a whole spectrum of colour. I started at the red end and spun through the colours until I reached the violet end.
This time I tried winding the single off the spindle with my ball winder, to try to control the tension during plying, which worked for a while, but eventually the lovely and obliging Resident Radiologist had to hold the ball and provide tension while I navajo plied (I like three ply - the yarn produced is much rounder so I'm going to stick with this method for a while).
I'm really pleased with the finished product this time. I've soaked and dried it to set the twist and the yarn is beautifully soft. I've ended up with about 80m of 4ply-weight yarn. Clearly I'm nowhere near the top of the learning curve yet, but I've reached a place where I can produce useful quantities of usable yarn.