Have you ever seen a toddler try to run? It's like they are so full of excitement and joy and enthusiasm they just launch themselves forward, forgetting their feet can't really zoom off with them.
It often ends in tumbles and spills, they scrape a knee and there may be tears, but over time their feet get quicker and they fall less.
And yes in this analogy new spinners can be the toddlers, their yarn the scraped knee and their feet, well their feet I guess are simply just feet!
However, what I see time and again is brand new super enthusiastic spinners feeling deflated because their first yarn was a total disaster. And it makes me so sad to see that, to see them doubt their decision to buy a wheel, to try a creative hobby, to buy those alpacas.
Fear not my friend!!! All you need do is learn to tie your shoe laces and jog!
No really, you don't start spinning at a full run, and if you try to it almost always ends in a completely gnarly looking skein of tangled lumps.
When you learn to tie your laces and jog however, you'll see progress and work your way up to those amazing fantastic yarns of your dreams.
First things first, when you're just entering the spinning world there's a chance you won't know where to start. It's literally kid in a candy shop style excitement!
So, I'm going to share with you the approach I've used dozens of times with my spinning students. It works because it's simple, allows them to follow their curiosity and produces pretty brilliant yarns too!
Step one is know your wheel.
Knowing what type of wheel you have, castle, Saxony etc is a great first step because it helps you understand how your particular wheel works. This is perfect because it means you can far more easily trouble shoot, you'll have knowledge of how things move and what they do.
Knowing what tension system you have, Irish or Scotch, as well as understanding a little about how your particular wheel works (not all wheels have the same quirks but all wheels have at least one!) is invaluable.
Once you understand what wheel you have you'll be much more able to make the adjustments you need as you begin to spin. Increasing or decreasing the tension, changing bobbins, ratios and all that fun stuff.
Step two is where it starts to get all fluffy and really fun, it's time to choose your fibre!
In my own spinning lessons I always start my students off with a combed Corriedale top. I have a selection of colours and let them choose whatever ones they like, and for me I think this is key.
When I was taught to spin I was told to treadle for the first lesson. No hands, just sit and treadle. SUPER FUN (not!).
Lesson two was here, take this ancient old dirty greasy fleece and try to spin it. Nice.
You can just imagine how easy that was!
Because I know how quickly this more traditional approach to spinning can dull your enthusiasm I always want my students to be super excited and love the fibre they're going to spin.
My main rule of thumb is go for a combed top or a roving that is 20 microns or higher. This is to avoid that slippery silky feeling of some finer fibres that can make spinning just that tiny bit more tricky. To read more about micron count and why it matters click here.
Amazing colours plus nice fibre preparation is the best way to start.
One you've got to know your wheel, chosen your not too fine prepared fibre it's time to decide what kind of yarn to spin.
This is where we need to gently remind ourselves we're learning to jog first.
You might be totally keen to dive into a core spun art yarn, (and who am I to stop you! ) however if you really want to build your skills and have a solid understanding of how to make yarns you'll love for a lifetime, starting with a standard 2 ply is always my best advice.
If you can make two balanced singles, ply them together and make a balanced 2 ply with integrity, you can do anything!
So as much as you might want to hear me say, start with beehives or an auto wrap, I'm saying your best bet is to nail the 2 ply, then move onwards and upwards from there.
Also FYI the humble 2 ply is probably my favourite type of yarn because it is so versatile, so don't be fooled into thinking it's not an amazing place to start!
And that's it! Literally three steps to starting off your spinning journey in a way that is both simple but super fun and exciting!
Step One - get to know your wheel
Step Two - choose your fibre, go for roving or top >20 microns
Step Three - spin a standard 2 ply yarn ( 2 ply = 2 singles plied together )
If you'd like to listen to me talk through these steps on my podcast click the link here to listen for free.
Or if you think you could use some real support as you start this journey please check out my online course 'Time To Unwind' where you get wonderful support, encouragement and know from yours truly.