More than eight years ago, I challenged myself to learn how to spin my own yarn…basically born from the fact that I wanted to have the luxury of making sure that the vision of a Noah’s Ark pairing of yarn and knitting matched in my imagination. Many times I discovered a pattern that I desperately wanted to knit, but only to go into the rainy-day pattern binder until the right yarn came along to coincide with the image in my head.
Solution: spin my own yarn.
Humble Drop Spindle Beginnings
I purchased a drop spindle and small fiber bump kit, and away I went…armed with access to YouTube videos. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite get the hang of it. I even purchased books on the topic. Nothing jelled. I tried and tried to no avail until…pipe in the ta ta dum beat…we traveled to Denver to visit relatives that June. I managed to sweet talk the family into heading out to Estes Park for the Wool Market and Fiber Festival. This was my very first fiber festival, and it was quite overwhelming…think little kid on the first day of grade school, and you get the picture.
Wandering around aimlessly, I happened upon a booth for Shuttles, Spindles and Skein located in Boulder. And who should happen to be there in the booth, none other than Maggie Casey, the author of my Start Spinning book. I started up a conversation with her, talking about my overwhelming desire to learn how to spin, but lack of progress on that front. She took me by the hand, deposited me on a chair and showed me right then and there how to spin. Almost immediately the light bulb went off, and I got the hang of it.
During that first year of spinning, my apparatus of choice was a drop spindle. Well, honestly and more accurately, a stable filled with drop spindles. I did accumulate quite the collection along with a slightly less impressive stash of fiber and batts. In order to graduate to what I really desired to use for my spinning, a wheel, the deal I made with my husband was that I needed to demonstrate that spinning wasn’t a fly by night fad. I had to spin for an entire year. Then and only then, could I start the search for a wheel.
During the 12 months following the festival, I joined the Pinellas Weavers Guild, with new creative opportunities and doors opening up. Many of the members had spinning wheels and I was able to test drive numerous types…traditional set-up, castle, single and double treadle.
Spinning Wheel Road Trip
Fast forward to the following Fall when hubby and I drove up to visit friends and see the autumn leaves changing in Asheville. Oh and yeah, it just also happened to be the weekend of the Southeastern Animal Arts Fiber Fair (SAFF).
In my mind, I knew what wheel I wanted (Kromski Minstrel) or so I thought. I ended up test driving every model within the barn. Like testing a car, when picking a spinning wheel, it is extremely important to sit down behind the wheel and take it for a spin.
What did I end up with? Ashford Traveller. And like those who came before me, I named my wheel.