so I’ve been knitting for a few years, and really want to branch out further. I love yarn so starting to spin just makes sense, plus I’ve always loved dying.
so basically I’ve looked up some stuff but I want to hear from actual spinners!! I just want some advice on where to start, how challenging…
Where to start: I generally recommend beginning with a mid-weight top whorl drop spindle and some soft but not fine wool (e.g. BFL), but opinions vary on that. Some people like silk hankies as starters; some like fine fluffy wool like merino; some like coarser, grabbier wool like Corriedale. Some people swear by starting on a rented wheel. Some people prefer starting on a lighter or heavier spindle, or a bottom-whorl, or… you get the idea.
The reasons for my particular recommendation are: first, a spindle is loads cheaper and smaller than a wheel, probably even than renting one on a trial basis, so you can start in far less space and with a very small investment. Second, a mid-weight whorl gives you more flexibility in terms of spinning standard yarn weights—you can probably manage sock to light bulky. Third, top whorl drop because it’s both more readily available, and easier to keep the yarn properly attached to the spindle when you’re first starting. Fourth, I personally find BFL to be a nice midpoint in that to me it’s grabby enough to stay together, fluffy enough to draft well, and soft enough that I actively enjoy touching it.
However, if you have one available, you may want to visit a store that sells spindles and fiber and see which ones feel good to you.
Start-up costs can be as low as $5 but more realistically probably $15-30 (USD). This will buy you a cheap spindle, or the materials to build a cheap spindle, and some basic fiber. The cheap spindles aren’t bad, but they are often slower and less pretty than the expensive ones. Also, sturdier—which is a good thing, because there is like 99% probability that you will drop it. A lot. A beautiful blown glass whorl is probably not a good beginner choice.
Your first (and second, and maybe third) yarn is likely to be art yarn. Just appreciate it as such—maybe you could use it as an accent on cuffs or the brim of a hat, or the edge of a scarf. Then you are likely to progress over time into thick-and-thin yarn. It’s not a great idea to go into it expecting to instantly spin perfectly even yarn—some people do, but there’s no guarantee you’ll be one of them. It’s probably better to expect variation and appreciate your yarn for what it is. Making something knittable isn’t too hard, but controlling what is the part that takes a lot of practice! As long as you like knitting with yarn with some variety in its weight, you’ll be fine.