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’s spotlight is on my friend Becca, who I have had the pleasure of getting to know through the Slack channel, Ravelry group and Instagram. Becca spins only on spindles and while she’s thought about transitioning a wheel, she continues to spin on spindles. A wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm, Becca has much to share with the spinning community. All photographs are Copyright Rebecka Roy.
Let’s hear from Becca:
My name is Becca and I live in Glasgow, Scotland. I grew up in Minnesota and moved to the UK to study literature and theology over a decade ago. I met my husband while studying in Glasgow and decided to stay here. We have a little boy and I’m currently at home with him most of the time. I volunteer on a few committees and I teach as well. I am really involved with my local guild and love spending time with other makers. I am most at home in the library or the classroom. I also love to walk around the beautiful Scottish hills.
A friend at my old job, Victoria, knew about my interest in learning to spin after a casual “what are you doing over the summer” chat. Her mum happens to be an avid spinner. When Victoria mentioned my interest her mum decided to send me a little care package. She posted me a simple handmade spindle and three little bags of fibre: Shetland, Wensleydale and alpaca. She encouraged me to find my local guild and I have never stopped spinning since then. That was 7 years ago. I still have that spindle and I have still never met the generous and kind spinner who sent it to me although I have sent her some of my handspun to say thank you.
I most love making yarns that I want to knit with. For me that is generally yarn from fingering to aran weight and often woolen spun. I love woolen yarns and spinning woolen although I am working on my worsted drafting in order to make more hardwearing yarns for garments. I tend to make yarn in more semi solid colourways and muted tones as that is what I enjoy wearing. I don’t own a spinning wheel so far in my spinning career but I am borrowing various wheels in order to decide what I want to save up for. Wheel spinning definitely still feels awkward but I am determined to stick with it this time.
My collection of tools is pretty modest and I find I really only need a few things to be a very content spinner. I own about 15 spindles of various types and I can spin almost anything I want on them. I would not be without my handcards as they are so versatile and simple and I love woolen spinning. I love my niddy-noddy and use it all the time. Other than that I just have a small basket that holds my spindles so I can make plying balls and that is all I own. I plan to add a spinning wheel to my life next year but I’m in no rush as my few simple tools work beautifully for me.
ETA: This is my favourite yarn of Becca’s that she’s spun to date – I just absolutely love it so much! Can we just ooh and aah over it for a moment please?! Above is the yarn on the spindles as singles, below is plied and finished.
My process tends to fall into one of two categories; exploratory or project oriented. With exploratory spinning I am usually concentrating on trying a new kind of fibre or technique. I don’t have any particular requirements for these spins. I just want to play and see what it feels like to make something different. I find a really need these when I’ve been working on something bigger or more focused so that I can change gears and give my brain a break. With the project oriented spins I am spinning for a specific purpose, either for a specific project or because I know I want a certain kind of yarn. I try and alternate between types of spinning because I find my brain can quickly feel trapped into a rut which kinda kills my desire to spin. When adding to my stash I almost always look at fibre content before colour. I like playing with lots of different kinds of fibre and while I have favourite breeds of wool to work with I don’t want to use something over and over again.
I can still remember the joy of learning to spin on my supported spindles and spinning my first cashmere on them. When the long draw from the cloud of cashmere just clicked and the spindle started to fly I was soooo excited. It felt like magic but magic that somehow my hands understood.
I would tell them that any skill comes slowly and incrementally over time and to be gentle with themselves. A little bit of practice everyday will make a massive difference. Don’t worry about getting “perfect” yarn or have too many set expectations when you are starting. Give yourself the freedom to explore and invest time into your own education. This is supposed to be fun!
Thank you to Becca for taking the time to answer a few questions and allow us some insight into her spinning journey. Some of you will know Becca quite well from the Slack channel – she’s also the one who probably welcomed you to the channel when you first joined! If you know of someone in our community who you think should be featured in this space, please get in touch with me! And never hesitate to take a moment and answer the questions yourself, and send me an email – I’d love to have you on here so that we can continue to get to know one another in our Patreon community better!
Until next time,