Monday, 1 August 2011

Portrait of a Hand Spinner

This is a portrait of Cecile Renaud, a fairly new hand spinner, who is already very accomplished and has some exciting things to share about hand spinning and making her own spindles. Have a look at her ideas on "How to make a CD Spindle".

Cecile spinning on her Turkish Spindle from Ist Crafts

How long have you been spinning for?
I had a taste of spinning of a friend's spinning wheel in February and then in May 2010 I bought my first spindle. Within a couple of days I was completely hooked. So the answer would be - not for long!

So what kind of fibres have you been spinning?
Mainly Merino. At the moment I am spinning some Silk hankies that I have dyed my favourite teal colour (although they turned out more turquoise). I have also bought some Blue Faced Leicester and Alpaca to try out.

Have you used many different types of spindles?
Well the first one I bought was very cheap and not very good either. Not wanting to spend a lot of money on it before I knew if I liked spinning I decided to try and make my own out of a CD (see How to make a CD Spindle). This has become a quest to make the perfect spindle out of all sorts. After the CD spindle I tried making one with a donut bead. I made one with Fimo, which broke. I then tried casting a Resin whorl. This is where I am at the moment trying to perfect the Resin whorl. I have also bought some ceramic coasters in Istanbul which I want to drill a hole in and use as whorls. My favourite spindle I must admit is a very petite Turkish spindle I bought from Ist Crafts on the Isle of Wight.

Which spinning techniques have you tried so far?
I have been doing Worsted drafting mainly for my singles. With plying I have been a bit more adventurous. I have done plain 2-ply and 2-ply with an Andean bracelet. At the moment I am trying out 3-ply with a home-made Lazy Kate (really just a glorified shoebox), but I have also done 3-ply with the Navajo technique. I have even tried the Navajo plying on-the-fly so to speak. This is where you spin a certain length, wrap it around your hand, ply it with Navajo chains and wrap the finished yarn around the spindle after which you continue to spin another piece.

Why do you even want to make your own yarn?
I really like the idea of going from sheep to garment being able to have full control of each process along the way. I also love to learn new techniques and learning to spin gives you a great opportunity to influence the final product in a new and exciting way. The process of plying can give so many different properties to the yarn. Do you want it springy or tight? Also spinning allows you to work more luxurious fibres without it costing a fortune.

You have only been spinning for two months but do you think it's something you will continue with and what are you going to come up with next?

I can't see myself stopping anytime soon. I would really like to be able to master the ability to control the thickness of my singles. I have already learnt to make really consistently thin singles. But I would like to be able to make other thicknesses too. I would also like to experiment some more with dyeing my yarn to get more of the colours I love (teal and purple). I want to begin knitting swatches of the different plied yarns to see how they turn out because it is my aim to be able to spin enough for a sweater one day. I would like to try making 4-ply and spinning on a supported spindle. I want to experiment with making more spindles like a rim-weighted spindle. There are so many things I would still like to try so I don't think I will tire or spinning just yet.

Cecile's donut spindle

Do you do other crafts apart from spinning?
Yes, I have been doing a lot of knitting the last couple of years. I also sew and make jewellery. I know how to crochet but am not so keen on it and I would really like to try embroidery. But at the moment I mainly spin - probably because I am a tiny bit addicted to it!

Let's talk more generally about crafts - why do you think they are important?

Well to me crafts are important because they give me an opportunity to be creative without having to be abstract and dabble in the arts. Crafts give me a more usable and practical outcome from my creativity. I also just love to figure out how things work and crafts let me do this.

So how do you think we can best keep crafts alive?

Exposure, exposure and exposure. We need to introduce more people to various crafts. People who may never have come into contacts with crafts before. We need to be better at celebrating the hobby-crafter.

Do crafts make you feel connected to your heritage?

Yes, my grandmother was a seamstress and both my grandmother and mother always knitted a lot. So I guess I feel a connection with them when I do these crafts.

Is there in your view a divide between traditional and modern crafts?

No, most definitely not. I think that it is more of a continuum and I believe that this gives crafts more potential and makes it all the more interesting. I don't think that dividing traditional and modern crafts will help crafts in general to survive.

The images in this post are copyright of Eddie. You are hereby granted permission to use them for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit Eddie and link back to this page. If you are using them and talking about this post I would love to hear from you in the comments.


  1. Not sure my first comment went through so...

    Great article, enjoyed it very much. I've been visiting Romanian spindle spinners and have photos on my blog. It's an ancient art/craft but, in the USA, experiencing a revival.

  2. Thank you, I love your pictures from Romania.


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