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I was nervous about learning to spin, but the prospect of producing my own custom yarns lured me. The first spinning tool I bought was a Turkish drop spindle from KnitPicks. I really recommend the Turkish spindle to anybody who wants to learn how to spin, but isn’t sure if they’ll enjoy it, or anybody who’s on a tight budget.
A few months after playing around with the Turkish spindle, I decided I was brave enough to try a wheel. I started out with a Babe Fiber Starter. It’s not a bad wheel, and it has the advantage of being much cheaper than an Ashford or a Schacht, but after a year or so I wanted an upgrade, so I saved up and spent my bonus money on a Schacht Ladybug. This is a great wheel for a beginner/advanced novice spinner. It’s sturdy, compact, and an all-round pleasure to use.
I also own a blending board, which is one of the most satisfying ways to mix fiber as far as I’m concerned. Blending boards can be expensive, so I highly recommend checking out Etsy. Etsy is also where I found a diz, a low-tech tool used to turn blended fiber into roving.
For fiber I’ve looked at KnitPicks, but most of my fiber comes from Paradise Fibers, DBNY, occasionally WEBS, and smaller retailers such as Miss Babs or various Etsy sellers.
A few years back I was gifted with a lovely reference book on the different types of sheep breeds and their wool. The Spinner’s Guide to Fleece is generous with both its descriptions and its photos. I’ve found myself leafing through its pages just for the pleasure of seeing the sheep, the wool samples, and the knitting swatches catalogued there.
For a review of basic techniques and an introduction to more advanced techniques, I recommend Brenda Gibson’s The Complete Guide to Spinning Yarn and Judith MacKenzie McCuin’s Teach Yourself Visually Handspinning. McCuin is more detailed and has some great step-by-step guides for the beginner. Gibson’s book is shorter, but I find it more inspiring when it comes to stretching my skillset. In any case, I consider them both to be essential books for learning and perfecting this craft.