What tools are really needed to spin handspun yarn?

I recently received a comment regarding the cost(s) of fiber spinning. It went the way it usually goes when one’s knowledge is quite limited concerning the fiber arts and been misled. If you believe it’s expensive to spin yarn, then you need to sit down awhile and mull it over a bit because it’s a lot of work that happens to have huge rewards that are worth the time and effort!

A spindle, two handmade nostepinnes, and a paddle spinner

When I started out, it was at edge of the shearing floor, swiping scraps of wool deemed unfit by the sorters and trying to spin it on a rock spinner I’d made. I was 8 years old. Grandpa saw me and asked if he could see my ‘yarn’. He smiled and told me to keep at it. I felt glad knowing he liked it so I spun a few more yards by dinner.

Two Navajo spindles I made from oak dowels and wood cookies about 15 years ago.

A few days later I was sweeping up the shearing floor and was putting the bigger pieces I thought I could spin into my pockets. Grandpa told me to come to the workshop (the keep in the barn) when I was finished. He’d handmade a wonderful wood spindle for me and the cost was the few yards of yarn I had spun with the rock.

A paddle spinner made by a dearly loved, departed friend; Icelandic lamb fleece

Fast forward several years. The tools needed to spin yarn need not cost anything, except the time and resources available around you. You don’t need anything expensive. You don’t need fancy. You can make most of the tools required. The fiber you want to spin can be acquired for low cost or free. It may not be optimal, but if you’re willing to put the effort into working with it, it will be a worthwhile experience.

A spindle made by a wood turner in TX, a maple nostepinne I made 20 years ago, and a maple nostepinne I made today

I spin on spinning wheels I’ve restored and/or repaired, as well as, many types of spindles. There have been times throughout my journey, when I’ve sold the wheels to pay bills or to add to savings for special purposes or needs. It’s part of life. I can always spin because I know how to make spindles. I know how to use a pair of inexpensive dog slickers as carders. I know how to make hackles from scrap wood and old nails.

A pair of 10 year old dog slickers I’ve been using to card super fine Icelandic lamb fleece

All that said, it’s a lot of work sorting and scouring fleece, carding it, dyeing it before it’s spun or after it’s been spun. Yes, I enjoy doing this. I know where the fiber comes from, what it’s being washed/dyed with, and I’m happy and proud to be able to.

This is not the end. Get busy and make somethin or do something!!! It can be anything….


The Complete Restoration of a Pair of Antique Hand Cards!

We got some very nice, antique hand cards at an auction a few months ago. I decided to restore them for doing historic reenactments.

The original carding cloth on these was pretty roached and the leather was completely rotted. You can see from the first photo that they were used a lot!

It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed doing it because I love old things back into usefulness.

With the really hard work completed, I went on to prepping the new 120 tpi carding cloth I bought from @HowardBrushCompany.

The most important part to achieving a good cut line on carding cloth is to complete the prep work of removing the carding pins from the cut area. The second important part is having a very sharp pair of sheers!! The ones pictured above are a vintage pair of Wiss Inlaid No. 38’s!! They cut through nearly everything like it’s butter!

I recorded a video of some of the process(https://www.facebook.com/MrsDsFiberOdyssey/videos/142338083542443/), including a blooper video (https://www.facebook.com/MrsDsFiberOdyssey/videos/624582811450873/), but I’m too cheap to post them here. You can find them on my Instagram or Facebook page under Mrs. D’s Fiber Odyssey.

It took me awhile to achieve nearly perfect, straight lines. I obviously had to trim the cloth again (photo #2) because the bottom edge was a bit off on the left side.

Now, some of you may get upset, annoyed, or get your undies in a wad because I used an adhesive to set the carding cloth in place on these ginormous hand cards (9-1/2″ long and 8-1/2″ wide). While they are stiff when you first use them, they do loosen up with use; it’s how I learned from my Grand Pere and he was a mechanical engineer in a woolen mill.

They work very well and I’m quite pleased! I’ll try and post where I’ll be demonstrating when winter is over.

Get busy! The yarn doesn’t spin itself!!