The Handspinner Spotlight is an opportunity for me to share with all of you some of the amazing handspinners out there in our community. It is an opportunity to see some of their work, as well as start to get to know a little bit about who they are and what brought them to spinning. This month features Nina La Fountaine, who I watched on her podcast (Fuzzy Love Knots) and started to chat with through Intagram once she bought her wheel, an Ashford Joy. I have really enjoyed getting to know Nina – she is kind and lovely, bubbly and creative.
Let’s hear from Nina ::
I am originally from Southern California, and am living the expat life in Santiago, Chile. I knit, spin and design. I also have a podcast that is about living in Chile and all things fiber.
As long as I can remember I have had a drive to be creative. My mom has always quilted and sewn in addition to her wonderful skills in the kitchen, and my dad is an amazing photographer and wood worker. Growing up in a home where I had that kind of creativity and possibility around me was so inspiring and taught me that you can do and try anything. In 2013, when I moved to Chile, I went from working full time to having all the time in the world, and I felt like my hands needed… something. So I taught myself to knit (with the help of my mother in law, and YouTube) and in no time I was knitting everything from socks to lace shawls. Soon, I was scribbling down patterns for myself. I self published my first pattern in March of 2015. I think, for me, it was only natural that I would want to learn how to spin. In June 2015 I got my wheel, Bonnie. There’s something so magical about being able to complete every step of the process, from sheep to finished shawl.
I think as a new spinner your main goal is to try to make the smoothest, most perfect yarn. I’m at the point now where I enjoy spinning things that aren’t perfect any more. Don’t get me wrong, I get such a rush when my singles are perfect, and my ply is just right, and my yarn comes out on target. But I am starting to appreciate when my handspun looks like handspun. I just took the Craftsy class, Spinning Art Yarns, with Jacey Boggs Faulkner. Something she said really struck a chord with me. It was something like…
Learning to spin art yarns will ultimately make you a better spinner. Understanding yarn construction, how twist behaves, the fiber’s characteristics and different techniques will help you spin a better smooth yarn.
So, lately I’ve been experimenting more. I’ve been more mindful and intentional about allowing texture in my yarns.
I have limited space in my apartment, so I don’t have a ton of gadgets. I use small tools like my spinners control card, scale, clover circular thread cutter, and a precious hand made wooden WPI tool (that was a gift from someone special) every time I spin. All the small tools hang on my wheel so they are always at hand. Then, there’s my wheel.
I love my wheel! Her name is Bonnie. I think for me, right now, she’s perfect. She’s an Ashford Joy 2 double treadle. I love that she fits in a suitcase and I can take her anywhere. I don’t see myself outgrowing her anytime soon. Other than that, I have a set of hand cards I use regularly. They are great for making rolags, mini batts and hand pulled roving. I adore spinning from a woolen prep, it’s so fluffy, and I could definitely see myself getting a drum carder or blending board in the future.
More twist does not make everything better! Haha! I started to realize that unless you’re spinning for socks and durability, you really don’t need to spin a high twist yarn. When I learned lower twist would make a fluffier, squisher yarn (especially since I don’t really spin fine wools) I started to become much more happy with my finished yarns.
Some tips ::
- DO NOT spin angry. If you are frustrated just stop and walk away. Chances are if you come back to it later with a clear head you’ll figure out what you can tweak and it will work out.
- Save your first few skeins. Don’t knit with them. Just save them, because you will never make yarn like that again. It will be perfect because you have spun your frustration and excitement into that fiber. All of that lumpy, overspun fiber!
Thank you so much to Nina for sharing a little bit of her spinning journey with us. If you aren’t already following her in Instagram, please head over and check out her feed & knitting designs.
Until next time, Happy Spinning!