Remember when we got our sheep sheared? I knew I wanted to spin that wool into yarn - or at least some of it. But figuring out the complex world of spinning is time consuming, and one thing I am definitely lacking on our busy homestead is extra time. So I put the thought to the back of my mind and tried to focus on the other tasks of spring - goats kidding, getting the garden planted, and replacing the hail damaged shelter in the east pasture. But in casual conversation with a friendly man at work, I mentioned my box of beautiful wool I was hoping to soon spin into yarn.
"I have a spinning wheel" Bob, one of the sweetest and most interesting folks I have the pleasure of knowing through work, volunteered. He agreed to bring it by and show me how to spin, and so I brought in a bag of some of my wool.
Typically when you get a fleece off a sheep, you would "skirt" it. That is to say, you would separate out the good quality spinning wool from the lower quality felting wool, and in this process you would discard any wool that was seriously nasty or useless. I hadn't don't that yet, so I grabbed a patch out of the middle. (Typically the edges of the fleece aren't suited to spinning.) Bob showed me how to assemble the wheel and did a demonstration on spinning. Of course, when I tried it I certainly wasn't as smooth as he!
The first task is to card the wool with these carders. He also had me spin some right from the fleece, without carding, to see the difference. I felt that carding gave a much smoother, more consistent yarn, and also made the actual spinning easier since I had a pile of prepared rolags to work from rather than trying to get clumps off the fleece.
The wool is spun as shown in the video, and it wraps around this bobbin. The bobbin is detachable - Bob actually had 4 bobbins - so you spin all the yarn onto the bobbin then take it out and unwind it onto a niddy noddy. The niddy noddy is basically just a stick with pegs, but it holds your yarn so you can make a skein.
The wool is spun unwashed and undyed. Not everyone does it that way, and in the future I might experiment with different methods, but when you're learning you do it the way the teacher tell you! My next task is to wash this skein and find my own spinning wheel so I can continue to practice.
I turned the clumps of wool into some lumpy yarn over the course of a couple of hours. But it was fun!