poetry and prose about place

learning to spin

with 7 comments

All spring and summer, I have been dyeing wool roving with dyestuff collected from the roadside and garden.  I have always intended to use this wool in some of my weaving projects, but lately, I have decided to first spin the wool roving into yarn.  Everyone recommends learning first to spin with a drop spindle, later graduating to a spinning wheel.


First, I went online to learn the basics and decide which drop spindle I should use.  Then I ordered my maple bottom whorl drop spindle on eBay for $7.95 ( $15.60, including shipping).


drop spindle


To spin, I first attach an end of the roving to the hook on the end of the spindle.  The method is to tease out a sparse bundle of fibres and spin the spindle, twisting the section of wool into a thread.  I spin the spindle counterclockwise, pinching the wool as I tease it out, holding the spindle still on my lap when I have to use both hands.  Eventually, I will get better and be able to hold the spindle in the air with one hand and spin the spindle with the other.  I do this a bit now, but I am plagued by breaking wool.  For an enjoyable beginner’s lesson in spinning, see Jennifer Beamer’s video at .


Spinning with a drop spindle is addictive!  I now spin the roving as soon as it is dry after dyeing.  My yarn is still very knobbly – a little like the yarn you use to knit those bulky sweaters!  My balls of yarn are getting better all the time, although I have trouble getting too much spin into the yarn, so it twists up on itself quite easily!




So far I have eleven balls of wool: Tansy, Old-Man’s-Beard, Bugleweed, Alder bark, Lily of the Valley (2 balls), Beet roots, Beet leaves, Carrot leaves, Radish leaves, and Comfrey.


plant-dyed wool, spun using a drop spindle


This is so much fun!


Comfrey-dyed spun wool


Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

July 28, 2014 at 7:55 am

7 Responses

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  1. Your yarns are all so pretty, Jane. 🙂


    July 30, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    • Hi Robin. Thanks. I wish I could get a few more colours than all the browns! Jane

      jane tims

      August 3, 2014 at 8:32 pm

  2. I’m impressed, Jane! You are so busy learning so many interesting new things. Spinning with a drop spindle sounds like a skill that requires a lot of practice to refine.

    Barbara Rodgers

    July 30, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    • Hi. I am getting better with each new ball of yarn. I am so glad I decided to do this! Jane

      jane tims

      August 3, 2014 at 8:32 pm

  3. I was too lazy to use a drop spindle – just a spinning wheel


    July 28, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    • Hi. I really like the spinning. Perhaps I’ll graduate to a wheel someday. I read where women used to spin with a drop spindle while they did their other work. I’d get tangled up for sure! Hope you are having a mild winter down there! Jane

      jane tims

      July 29, 2014 at 11:08 am

      • Thanks Jane. It’s a bit cold and wet right now. Enjoy your day 🙂


        July 29, 2014 at 4:26 pm

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