Spinning your own yarn, Is it really practical?

So, I find spinning rather interesting. However, I started wondering if was really practical. Can you get the a really good quality of yarn? Is it cost effective? Is it too time consuming. Any advocates out there for spinning your own wool?


V's picture

For the person that finds real pleasure in making yarn, I'm sure it's practical for them and time well spent. I haven't spun on a wheel but I do enjoy some spindle spinning. It takes a while to spin up enough yarn to make a hat or a pair of socks (I have yet to accomplish this) . For a sweater's worth, I would definately spin on a wheel. If you're interested, I'd say get yourself a spindle and some nice roving and try that. You might find yourself getting addicted.

Bill's picture

I haven't felt the need to spin from scratch yet...(with so many beautiful yarns available)...but I've been dyeing yarns...and have a HUGE stash of lace weight cone yarns...so I've been plying yarns together...and that I really like!
...and I use an electric spinning wheel...the Hansen MiniSpinner.

negativitysucks's picture

I tried spinning and discovered that it really wasn't for me. I can't stay interested long enough. I do have two friends who spin all the time while watching TV or in knit gatherings and they seem to enjoy it more than most anything. I think it depends on what kind of knitter you are. Do you enjoy the process of knitting? The calm it gives you? The challenge of a pattern? If so, you would probably enjoy spinning.
If, however, you are like me and enjoy the end result more than the process, spinning is likely not for you. I do enjoy knitting but I enjoy it most when I have finished my project.
It's not necessarily cost effective to spin your own yarn, so if the motivation is to save money, spinning is also probably not for you. And the degree of creating your yarn can be complex. The shearing, cleaning, scouring, carding, spinning, dyeing...etc. I'm happy to buy something already destined for the needles :-)

Tallguy's picture

I have been a spinner for a long time, actually before being a knitter. After I had all this yarn, I was told I now had to learn to knit to use my yarn. And I did.

I find spinning much more relaxing and the first go-to process when I am under any stress. I like the spindle best of all, and have done most of my spinning on my CD spindle. I can take it more places, and do a little here and there as I can, or while waiting for pages to load, or while watching movies. That is not wasted time for me. While a wheel can be faster, I find I can accomplish much more with a spindle in a week than I can on the wheel -- because of the portability.

Is it practical? Is it cost effective? As many people watching me at demonstrations will say, in a whisper, "you know, you CAN buy yarn." True. And if it was just yarn you wanted, you can settle for acrylic from WM and be quite happy. I like to create my own yarn, it has a special quality, and it is exactly as I want it. I know the fibres used, how they have been prepared. To me, that is important. For you, maybe not.

How much is your time worth? To me, this is not wasted time. I do not spin to make a living. This is "spare time" that I find here and there throughout the day. I think it is more profitable to me to spin rather than "waste" time in front of the tube, or making a "waist" for myself! I feel useful when I am doing something tangible. And in no time at all, I have enough for a pair of socks (or two) as you have seen, or even a sweater. I have processed the wool from dirty fleece (even attended at the shearing) to final garment, which is okay to do once. Now, I prefer to buy clean fleece and then process from there. At one time, my grandmother had to do this to provide for her family. I do it because I enjoy it. And that makes all the difference in the world.

The only drawback is that I don't have enough time now to knit! If only this thing called a job didn't take up so much of my valuable time!

albert's picture

What's God's shoe size? How tall is purple? When is France? Some questions just don't apply.

Buck Strong's picture

"How tall is purple?" I love that. I'm using that next week with my 7th graders.

To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring-it was peace.
~Milan Kundera

To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring-it was peace.
~Milan Kundera

Crafty Andy's picture

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The short and the long answer is. Is it practical, is it cost effective, is it time consuming?

It is very practical in the sense of you can make your own yarn. You need space and time and well prepared fiber. Maybe is cost effective if you blend your own fiber, but I will tell you that I did not get a wheel because it was practical or cost effective or anything else.

I got a wheel because I wanted to make yarn, I wanted to learn to make my own kind of yarn and maybe teach in a future. Time is all it takes and if the fiber is already prepare, is less time consuming, but spinning yarn goes beyond all those. For example, I made my partner a scarf and the yarn is pilling, I will never buy that yarn from Knit Picks Again, because is a yarn that is baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad lol. I wanted to grow in the craft and I think and believe that I can make some good quality yarn . It is also very useful for plying and making yarn out of already made yarns. If you don't have the time to spend and learn it is a waste of time. You can always rent wheels, you don't need to buy them. Drop spindle is a different story, but again is something very personal.

Aaronknits's picture

Gosh, I don't know what other sage advice I can offer that hasn't already been given. As a new spinner, I am just thrilled to be involved in the creation of something at a much earlier point in the process. It's a great feeling that (for me) outweighs any notions of practicality or cost/time effectivness.

WillyG's picture

I echo Aaron's sentiment. I was lucky enough to fondle Aaron's handspun yarn, and it helped me understand his point...it's like handknitted socks; I didn't like 'em at first, but when I gave them some time to break in, I found that they were consistently the first socks in the drawer I'd go to. At this point, I don't really care that those socks cost roughly twenty bucks a pair.

I feel so much closer to the yarn as I take part in its creation, just like knitted items. If you plan to take up spinning, I'd recommend planning on taking some formal lessons. I've only fooled around, and I really don't know what I'm doing... so my yarn isn't very knittable yet. Aaron's taken some lessons, and his yarn really shows it! nom nom nom

Aaronknits's picture

Aww shucks, thanks! I really only had the one "lesson" which did a lot. We could try to sit you down with Harriet next time you're up for a visit, or I could just make sure I've got an empty bobbin, sit you down at my wheel, and I could try to pass along some of the good energy that she passed on to me.

Knitting your own garments.... is it really worth it? :)

TheKnittingMill's picture

I love that!

MMario's picture

I treat spindles and wheels with the same caution I would treat a super-contagious plague victim; I do *NOT* need another fiber addiction, and have had just enough exposure I know how hard I would fall...

The possibilities for colour blending, plying, etc are endless...and spinning (I have both drop spindled and used a wheel - tho long long long time aGO AND not enough to consider either "learned") seems to me a good candidate for meditation in action...as knitting can be. or crochet....or embroidery....

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

albert's picture

do it...do it...do it...

MMario's picture

get thee behind me satin!

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

The secret to living to an old age is to find a method of escape and release from the worldly tensions we tend to internalize. There is no price that can be put on it if it gives you that and so much more. If the problem doesn't fit into the space of my drafting zone then it is too big for me to handle and therefore must be released to the unknown. All things in balance. I cannot spin a balanced yarn if I am fretting over something to big for me. Cost advantage: priceless.



Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Gee, Buck, I don't really know how to address this one. I do spin but haven't really made much from handspun. I think it is like a lot of the fiber arts...I try them and then go further if I find value to them. Do you have it where you can borrow a spindle or wheel and then spin? That way, you don't have a lot of money invested, only to discover you don't really enjoy it. Some classes have it where you can borrow a spindle as you take them, that is another good way to go. I recommend spindles as I figure you can learn spinning actions with out having to get the hang of treadling at the same time. Lots of luck. One good thing, though, we have access to lots of great handspun for knitting if we don't care to spin it ourselves. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.