The afternoon of the Introduction to Spinning course was spent at the wheel (you can read about the morning's exploits here). This may go some way to appeasing all the people who assumed I was going to be working out in a hard-core fashion on a bike all day when I told them I was going spinning. But thankfully spinning on a wheel is not nearly so energetic.
It is however incredibly frustrating. For the first hour. In fact as a class we pretty much sat silently to begin with as we grappled with our uncooperative contraptions and making good on blaming the tools. Spinning was problematic in that I understood what to do, but I couldn't convince my recalcitrant hand-eye-foot coordination to do it. I could treadle quite happily. Until the wheel was under tension, and then I found it impossible to set the rhythm. I could draft my yarn to a satisfactory level. Until the wheel sucked all the fibre unspun onto the bobbin and tangled it there. And I kept having to let go of the fibre to catch the wheel, because if you don't keep the wheel spinning to a rhythm, it goes backwards and unwinds anything you might have actually accomplished.
Which was Very Little.
So as I said, we spent an almost silent hour as we tried to forcibly yank something resembling yarn from the wretched spinning wheel. I can't speak for the others but I was certainly cursing very loudly inside my head.
However, spinning turned out to be a bit like learning to drive. One minute it's a nightmare trying to manage clutch, gears, indicators, mirrors, steering and breaking while cars hurtle towards you out of nowhere. But suddenly it sort of clicks and you can stop worrying about coordinating it all because your hands and feet somehow reach a truce and decide that they're going to work things out and give spinning a chance.
So the second hour meant I actually did a bit of spinning. And of course, just as I started to get the hang of it...it was time to ply the yarn and go home.
As with the drop spindle, I found work at the wheel to be completely absorbing and very enjoyable once I started to get the hang of it. It was extremely satisfying and almost relaxing as you see your nice new yarn (or dodgy stringy mess) coil tidily around the bobbin. There was a real sense of accomplishment and it was lovely to be able to go home with a skein of my own hand-spun yearn.
Just to clarify, it is not really fit to be knit with. If I can find a very accommodating, forgiving sort of pattern that requires a very short length of yarn of wildly varying thickness, then I could knit that... But it seems unlikely!
I think it might make a pretty embellishment for a more sensible project though. After all, I feel quite sentimental about my first hand-spun yarn. The workshop overall was a truly wonderful experience and I loved every minute; I can't help hoping I'll be able to have another go some day.
P.S. I haven't yet photographed my skein of yarn, or the ball I made on the drop spindle, but I shall do so as soon as there is enough light in the sky, and share glorious pictures of my masterpiece!