So a friend of mine has asked me to teach her how to knit lace and spin. The sad part is, she lives several hours away from me, and my work hours make communication with all you daylight people virtually impossible.
But there is good news! I can communicate with her via this blog, and leave the lessons up for her education, and for everyone else's as well! Joy and rapture, my friends. Joy and rapture.
The first thing we're going to have to do, of course, is acquire the supplies with which we shall learn.
So to follow each subject, this is what I propose you acquire over the next several days (or weeks):
Two sets of needles, one large (8-10 or 11 US. An 8US knitting needle is about 5.0mm) and one small (2-3)
Two skeins of yarn, one thick (I suggest Red Heart, because it's everywhere) and one laceweight.
The laceweight yarn will be difficult to find. Hobby Lobby (our local craft store) only just began carrying it, and what they have is acrylic. A specialty yarn store will be more likely to have it, if you have a specialty yarn store within decent driving distance. However, I assume if you want to know how to knit lace, you want to do the fine stuff. You don't want anything thicker than sport. I will cover yarn weights at a later date. If you can't find decent laceweight, you can use crochet cotton for now, and order the good stuff when you feel a bit more confident.
-A top-whorl drop spindle (I will explain WTF this means later).
-Fiber. 2-4oz of wool. The magic words to look for are "roving" or "top". These will give you a pre-processed fiber that should be relatively easy to work with.
A "learn how to spin" kit that contains a spindle and several ounces of DECENT fiber.
You can rig a usable spindle for about ten bucks, counting the gas to get to the craft store and back. I will cover this in detail tomorrow. Fiber will be harder to fudge. There's a couple of tricks I've learned out of desperation (did you know you can spin admittedly crappy yarn out of cotton balls?) but I do not recommend these for beginners.
As for the kit route ... most of the kit spindles are decent, but I have yet to see a kit come with decent fiber.
My suggestion, if you want to learn on good stuff, is to buy the spindle and the fiber as seperate products, and not to buy a kit. I'll be ordering this stuff and probably a couple of spindles (it's my birthday. Also, if I'm going to play at teaching I want a spindle that isn't made out of a toy car wheel) I will let you know both when I put the order in, and when I get it. The other fiber I can recommend is Shetland Top, though it's pretty fine and a little more expensive.
Do not order the merino for your first lesson. It is very, very lovely, but it is also expensive and a little tricky to work with. Once we get the basics of spinning down, we can start going into the fibers themselves. And trust me, 8oz of fiber does not sound like a lot, but it is.
Also ... my ability to get these lessons out is completely dependent on my ability to not die while I'm working. So if I have a particularly hard series of days you may not see many lessons out of me. Do not shoot me, if and when this happens.