Why learn to spin with Romney and not BFL?

handspun 2-ply skeinsI usually hand people learning to spin Coopworth or Romney; I find they are nice wool to learn with -- any "medium wool" usually is good. Why is it good?
  • typically, less expensive than dyed wool roving and fine wools
  • available in a variety of natural colors
  • open crimp, likes to be spun into a visible yarn (LOL as opposed to frog hair) -- easy to spin worsted weight singles
  • reasonable staple length, 4-6 inches, usually. Most people when learning will naturally keep at least a hand's width between their hands and adapt to the 6-9 inch separation needed to most easily draft these fibers.
  • wool also is easier than non-wool fibers because of the scales on the surface of the wool -- it grabs onto the other fibers and helps keep them together. Mohair, silk, alpaca, cotton don't have these (kinds of) scales and won't grab.
All that said, Corriedale and BFL (Blue Faced Leicester), or any space-dyed roving can be fun to learn on, as long as your pocketbook can handle it. I know I try to keep some dyed corriedale in my learn to spin kits to spice them up, along with natural white and grey/brown medium wools. I've heard of folks who had to learn with cotton or llama due to wool allergies or vegan-ism, it just takes more persistence.

So, whatever you choose -- Romney, BFL, or some other fiber, pick something you'll have fun with, are willing to sacrifice some of (the pile of bits & bobs around me when I was learning how to join -- I laugh at the memory!), and that will help you keep going through the learning process.

Your hands have to learn as much as your head does, ditto feet on a wheel, eyes, and arms. Remember to take breaks and to spread your learning out over time -- give yourself at least a month to get through the wall of learning something totally new, if not longer, even.

Happy spinning!


Anonymous said...

I am so glad I found your site. I had seen all the beautiful yarns people were making through flickr. So I bought a Louet wheel on ebay. 2 problems, I live in Israel where there a very few spinners to learn from. I dont understand all the technical details of the wheel, ie; ratios etc. And availability of supplies all has to be brought from the States. I have lots of roving, I agree about learning on Romney and Correidale (I also liked). I want to spin sock yarn. I am getting better but sometimes I am spinning too loose and the yarns seperates and gets away from me. Anyway, maybe you have some ideas?

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

@emesdikchic: thanks for asking these questions!

I've tackled the first one, I hope, here: How do I use the ratio on my spinning wheel? (let me know if that's off the mark)

And I have the second one on the yarn separating on my draft list. But the short answer is, add more twist -- if it's drifting apart, it doesn't have enough twist in it.