Back when I signed up for the classes I was going to take at the retreat, I signed up for the basic spindle spinning class where we were going to learn how to spin our own yarn. Not many details were given about the class, so I was dreaming about learning how to spin on a spinning wheel. I'd been wanting to learn for a little while already and thought that it seemed like a neat thing to know how to do. A few weeks before the retreat I found out that we weren't going to be learning how to spin with a wheel, but with something called a drop spindle. I had no idea what that was, so naturally I decided to google it. I'd heard references to drop spindles before but never thought to actually look it up. Since now I was actually going to be learning how to use one though, I decided to investigate a little more thoroughly. I found out that this is what a drop spindle looks like:
And then I went, "huh??" I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out how this thing was supposed to make anything resembling something you could knit with. I decided a little more research was in order, namely the kind of research that one does on youtube. This is the video I found, and I watched the whole thing. It's 11 minutes long which is pretty long for a youtube video, but if you want to see what this crazy process looks like, this is it.
Now I was getting a little concerned. This didn't look easy. It didn't even look enjoyable, but goshdarnit I was determined that I was going to try it, and I was going to be good at it, and I was going to love it. It was around this time that I began chatting with my knitting friends that were also going to be at the retreat about what classes I was taking, and when I told them that I was taking the drop spindle class they would invariably say something like, "Oh... well I hope you like it. You'll have to let me know how it goes." And then they would give me a pitying look and change the subject. I could see their concern, but I decided to ignore it. I didn't want anything to dissuade me from my soon-to-be favourite new hobby!
I've already described portions of the retreat, but I will say that the drop spindle class took place on Sunday morning, starting at about 10:30. Not really all that early, but when one has stayed awake into the wee hours knitting and indulging on Diet Cake, and then slept poorly due to 10 snoring roommates and a thin, plastic covered mattress, and then forced herself to get up early anyway and go for a walk to wake up and shake off the cake-induced grogginess... well... you get the idea. I've had better mornings.
There were only four of us that had signed up for the class, and this probably should have been another clue, but I was still determined to be the best at this. I was going to be spinning like a BAWSE by the end of this class. Our teacher started running us through the steps to spinning, starting with drafting the roving, and attaching it to the spindle so that we could start spinning our yarn, and we followed along as best we could. I drafted a bit and spun what I had drafted, then had to stop spinning in order to draft some more, and so on. This got old pretty quickly. I didn't like the idea of stopping the spinning to draft more every time I had spun up the already drafted roving, so I started to try drafting as I spun and this basically just meant that instead of slowly spinning new yarn, I was constantly respinning and re-winding the already spun yarn because it kept dropping on the floor and unwinding itself. Oh, I should also mention that we were standing, and the class was in a large echoey room with a hard tile floor so every time the spindle dropped, it clattered loudly and didn't really help to soothe my cake-induced "grogginess"...
An hour and a half later, I was exhausted. In case you didn't watch the video above, it is a very labour intensive process. Oh, and I wasn't getting the hang of it, either. I still struggled just as much, and I think I actually got a little worse. I started drafting too thinly and the roving pulled apart a few times. And I was still pushing myself to try drafting as I spun despite my prior failings, and that just meant more re-winding. I was getting more and more frustrated, and I was certainly not good at it, and I was very much not loving it. At the end of the class I had silently decided that if I ever saw a drop spindle again, it would be too soon.
When all was said and done though, I had a little ball of yarn.
Granted, it's the ugliest yarn I've ever seen and I can't imagine that I will ever use it for anything, but it's something. Something to remind me of why I'm going to stick to knitting and leave the spinning to the experts.
(Although I still would like to learn how to use a wheel spindle. Also, my hands look weird in photos.)