At the end of June, I'm leaving New York and living out of a suitcase in various locations until January 2013, when I'll be settling down in Bloomington, Indiana. This is all for reasons related to my husband's employment situation. It's a little crazy, I'll likely be out of work for a somewhat distressingly long time, but I'm actually really looking forward to it.
Except for one problem: six months without my spinning wheel?!?! This is really silly, I know, but I love my spinning wheel and our time together. Spindles don't quite approximate the same experience, for the same reason that rigid heddle weaving doesn't compare to weaving with a floor loom to me. There's something about the whole body coordination of it that makes it such an enjoyable experience for me. It makes me think I should probably take some dance classes.
The good news is that I've come up with what I think is a great solution. Enter the kick spindle. This one is made by Jim Echter at True Creations, and let me tell you, it's fun and truly delightful. It packs up to be quite flat and fits in a suitcase very easily. There's a (beloved) Vanilla Coke Zero can in the photo for scale.
(When I purchased the kick spindle, it came unfinished. That's my own work with tung oil-- thanks, Jenny Jo!-- and wood beams to bring out the lovely cherry color.)
It very quickly sets up to look like this:
How to spin on it? Well, it's similar to spinning on a charkha, supported spindle, or a great wheel in that you're spinning off the tip of the spindle, at roughly a 45 degree angle from the spindle, so that the twist goes into the fiber and leaves the yarn already packed onto the spindle intact. Since your foot is making the wheel spin--the part you "kick" is the shaft below the big flywheel-- you have both hands free to draft however you like. A leader is pretty much necessary to get things started.
I forgot to get a photo of the unspun fiber, but I had a little sample from someplace or another, and I spun up a third of it into a wee little cop on the spindle. I'm looking forward to seeing how much I can pack on there.
Here are the three plies of my sample yarn, wound onto mini tennis balls (meant for mini dogs, but great for holding singles waiting to be plied).
I could have plied on the kick spindle, just by kicking in the opposite direction, but I called on one of my drop spindles for the task.
A little sample skein is born! This is a three ply, and I didn't measure the wraps per inch, but by eyeballing it, it looks like a heavy fingering weight to me.
No doubt you'll see more products from this very cool new toy in the next six months. Is there anyone else who, like me, enjoys involving both hands and feet in the creative process? Am I just a dancer in denial? I've always been wary of sheep shearing, but maybe I should give it a try, since that's clearly a whole body experience...