A few years ago, I sent my spinning wheel away because I was living in a very small apartment with two very attentive cats. While I've been living in an apartment with more room (and doors!) for a few years now, only this week has my wheel returned: I realized that I missed spinning, and it's not like soothing hobbies are unwelcome these days.
I started spinning about 15 years ago, and did it a bunch for a few years and then more or less stopped for a long time. It's been interesting to start up again, and discover that my hands/body more or less remembered exactly how to do it. I had a few hours and about 200g of yarn to spin before some of the finer points came back and now I've spun a couple more skeins closer to my intention.
The other human asked "What do you like about spinning?"--well the question was phrased more like "is handspun yarn better?", but I will paraphrase to better capture intent. There are, of course, a few answers:
- the act of spinning is quite satisfying. Sometimes it's enough for things to be fun and satisfying even if they aren't productive.
- the yarn can be sort of nifty, and although I've spun a lot of yarn, I have mostly not knit much with handspun yarn. I tend to like consistent and fine (fingering) yarns in my own knitting, and machines just do better at making this kind of yarn, so I end up giving a lot of handspun away to friends who I know will knit it better.
- spinning gives you a lot of control over the wool (and kind of sheep) that go into the yarn you get, in a way that just doesn't scale up to larger production schemes. I quite enjoy being able to first select what kind of sheep the wool I use comes from and then decide what kind of yarn I want from it. When other people spin, you can usually only pick one of these variables.
I'm currently spinning some white merino roving that I've (apparently had for years.) There's a piece of paper in the bag that says "2 lbs" but between my practice skeins and whatever I did before I stopped, there's probably only about a pound and a half left: this is fine. Merino is great, but it's quite common and I knit a lot of merino. I've been working on getting a pretty stable 3-ply worsted weight yarn, and I'm roughly there. I like 3-ply because of the round construction, and worsted weight is about the heaviest yarn I'm really interested in knitting with or using (and it's easy to design with/for!)
My next few spinning projects are with wool from different breeds of sheep (BFL! Targhee! Rambouillet!) though mostly undyed (and largly white), and mostly in larger batches (a pound or two.) I've never really gotten into hand-dyed roving, and mostly really enjoy spinning undyed wool: in most cases dying the finished garment or the yarn before knitting leads to the best result anyway. I guess one of the most The thing I like about spinning, in a lot of ways, is that it lets me focus on the wool and the sheep.
As a spinner, I'm far more interested in the wool and the sheep, in much the same way that as a knitter I've become far more interested in the structure of what I'm knitting than the color or the yarn. This feels entirely consistent to me: as a spinner I'm far more interested in the process and the wool than I am in yarn, and as a knitter I'm far more interested in using the yarn to explore the structure. Somehow, the yarn itself isn't the thing that compells me, despite being kind of at the center of the process.
Anyway, back to the wheel!