Home » knitting » I want to be Rapunzel

I want to be Rapunzel

…and not for the long hair, that seems like it would be a pain to keep washed and brushed, and I wouldn’t want anyone using it as a rope to climb up, either…ouch! But to be locked in a tower with a spinning wheel sounds like heaven right now. I’m learning to spin my own yarn! I know that many of my fellow fiber enthusiasts have embarked on this journey, I guess there’s just something about working with yarn for long enough, and falling in love with the feel of it, that makes you eventually wonder about the process of creating it, not to mention the possibility of saving a little money on yarn. So I’m going to work backwards to satisfy my curiosity. I guess that would be wiser than rushing out and buying that cashmere goat I wanted to bring home from the Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival last year (she was SO pretty and sweet!). First: learn to spin, then if I like that: learn to dye my own yarn, then: maybe start buying raw fiber and carding it. Perhaps, eventually it would be fun to own my own fiber animal, but that’s not very practical right now. I have a hard enough time keeping up with my 2 chickens… let alone the rest of my family and animals and our small urban house and yard. But maybe an angora rabbit??? Mae would love it, that’s the animal she wanted to bring home from the fiber festival… Hmmm….

But I’m getting way ahead of myself… back to Step 1: I’m going to learn to use a drop spindle, the cheapest way to start. I’ve read some articles, and watched a lot of videos, my favorites on YouTube were by Megan LaCore… there were better quality videos out there, including a couple I borrowed from the library, but I found hers very simple and understandable with no extra tools necessary, and she was very to the point (if you’re like me and don’t like a lot of rambling details and excessive repetition in your tutorials) and then I just dove in and started playing! I ordered a Schacht Hi-Lo spindle from Alpaca Direct, and those sweet people even sent me a surprise twist (2 oz?!) of merino roving along with it. I love the gorgeous teal color they picked out (it even matches my blog design… how did they know?). And really, how can you not want to sink your fingers into this lovely softness and start playing with it?

merino wool roving

Looks like clouds… or cotton candy… yum!

merino wool roving

Here are my first attempts. I used just under half of the roving to get the feel for the entire process, and learn what I want to do differently next time. I used Megan’s drafting tutorial to learn to draft it. (Note: All of the rest of my links will be to her videos as well, for anyone who wants to follow my process) I also made it super bulky, to avoid breaking the yarn too much, and so I could really see what I was doing. Here is my first single ply:

single ply yarn drop spindle first attempt

I struggled with how much twist to put into it, so I did some research about that (after I was almost finished), and learned that it’s better to have too much, rather than too little when using a drop spindle, but you should try to keep it even, and a good way to judge this is to hold out a length, then let it twist up on itself and see if you like the way the ply looks. I then used the Andean bracelet method to wind this directly onto my hand and then make an even half and half center-pull ball for the 2-ply:

2-ply yarn drop spindle first attempt

And here it is wound off into a skein. I just wound it around a chair back, and tied it with embroidery thread figure 8s in 4 places. I think I have about 10 yards total:

loose skein of yarn

There are a lot of uneven twists and thick and thin widths… so we’ll just call it a novelty yarn. 😉

loose 2-ply hand-spun yarn skein

I’m just ecstatic that it looks like yarn! Here is my little skein all twisted up:

hand-spun drop spindle skein of yarn... first attempt

So exciting! I learned a lot on my first attempt, so hopefully I will just keep getting better. The whole process definitely felt magical, like my first time knitting. I’m excited to teach the kids too. Jonah was very intrigued just watching me spin the single-ply, and he had lots of questions and ideas about it. I gave him a little piece to play with, and he started twisting it onto the frame of his glasses, and said: “I bet you could do this with just a stick! Did people do this a very long time ago?” Then, when he saw the finished yarn: “Can you knit with this? Can I try knitting with it?” That’s my boy. 🙂


18 thoughts on “I want to be Rapunzel

    • Thank you so much!!! I AM excited, and hoping for even better results on the second half. I’ll probably try to keep the width similar, though, so I can actually make something with it and see how it knits up. Maybe a chunky cowl, or headband?

  1. That’s awesome for a first try! Love the colour, and you’re right, it does match your blog! It is soooo addictive (as you can see in my blog, haha). I wish you luck in your new fibre adventure, and I’d love to see how you get on.
    PS (I have hair like Rapunzel, (can almost sit on it) and it is a pain in the backside to wash, dry and brush. Still love it though!)

    • Thanks so much! I’m glad you approve. 😉 I will most assuredly keep posting about my progress… eventually I will need to try kool-aid dyeing like you. 🙂 And no offense was meant about the long hair, when you love something, it’s worth the extra effort, for sure!

  2. No offence taken! Oooh, Kool-Aid dyeing is fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun! You want any tips or advice, just ask! (Though they will only be what I have found out from personal experience, and may not perhaps be what others say!)

    • Personal experience is usually the best advice, I think. I actually was wondering about your decision to dye the roving before spinning it. Does it make a difference whether you dye it before or after? I’ve seen people doing it both ways, and I’m wondering if one way is easier than the other, or if it makes difference to the look of the finished yarn.

      • I just wanted to try out spinning my own dyed roving really, and thought it would be slightly more interesting if I could spin some nice brightly coloured fiber, rather than doing a typical white and the dyeing it after. I actually dyed some white wool yesterday (already spun) but I found I preferred the roving a lot more. Try having a go at both. 🙂

  3. Looks great! I am hoping to learn to spin soon too. I found someone who would teach me, starting with a drop spindle, and we were going to have my first lesson early October, but the flood messed that all up. Maybe…hopefully…I might get to it soon.

  4. I love the 2 photos of the singles/plied yarn on the spindle. So pretty! Thing is though, I just want to spin loads of different spindles with different colour singles and decorate the house with them 🙂 I’m excited for you being excited about fiber and spinning and everything. If you ever need any help I’d be happy to help with what I can 🙂

    • Thank you so very much! You are right, singles on spindles would make great decorations! Thank you also for your offer of advice, I will probably take you up on it! 🙂

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