How To Clean Your Precious Spinning Wheel

When was the last time you cleaned your spinning wheel? Have you just acquired an old wheel that needs cleaning? A dusty wheel you want to start using again? Used your wheel a lot lately? Or are you new to spinning and want to know how to care for your wheel? Whatever the reason, your spinning wheel is both a working tool and a piece of furniture in your home. And as such it should be looked after and treated with care. We all get told as children that the more you look after your things, the longer they’ll last.

How To Clean Your Precious Spinning Wheel by Gradiance Yarns |
How To Clean Your Precious Spinning Wheel by Gradiance Yarns |

So here is my ten step guide to cleaning your spinning wheel.

1. Put down a Sheet

This isn’t quite a necessary for a regularly cleaned wheel, but for dirty wheels place a sheet down first, or go outside if the sun is shining. This makes cleaning up after so much easier!

2. Remove…

…the drive band, flyer, bobbins and mother-of-all wherever possible. This will make cleaning the rest of the wheel and the parts much easier.

3. Dusting

Working from the top down, give the wheel a dusting with a soft cloth. On particularly dusty wheels, if you work bottom up you may find you need to dust the bottom a second time! For significant amounts of dust, a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment may be used on the larger surface areas. Look out for any fibre that has become entangled that needs to be removed. Tweezers can help with this.

How To Clean Your Precious Spinning Wheel by Gradiance Yarns |
Watch out for the little bits of fibre entangled around the wheel and on the accessories!

4. Sticky Bits!

After you’ve finishing trying to figure out what it is or how it even got there, a damp cloth will help remove these more stubborn sticky areas. Just make sure you dry the area when you’ve removed it. For harder to reach nooks and crannies a damp cotton swab may help.

5. Accessories

Time to move on to the flyer, bobbins and mother-of-all, following the above steps for dusting and any sticky bits. Look out for any fibre that has become entangled too! Pipe cleaners and cotton swabs can get inside your bobbins.

How To Clean Your Precious Spinning Wheel by Gradiance Yarns |
Cleaning your accessories is an important part of spinning wheel care too!

6. Orifice

Small bits of fibre, dust, and oil can accumulate in here. A slightly damp cotton swab can be used to clean inside the orifice. But don’t forget to use a dry cotton swab after to dry it again.

7. Grooves

Generally I use a damp cotton swab to run around inside the grooves on the flyer and bobbins, and then a dry one to dry it off. But a toothbrush would work too.

8. Underneath

Don’t forget the undersides of your wheel, including the treadle. Be careful turning it on it’s side and ask for help if you have a particularly large wheel.

9. Wood Care

Your wheel manufacturer will have a recommended product to care for the wood they have used. If you don’t have the manual or don’t know the manufacturer – maybe your wheel was made by a friend of a friend – then beeswax is your best option. Apply a small amount of beeswax paste using a clean cloth – not the one you have just done the dusting with – and buff that puppy until you have a gorgeous shiny wheel again!

10. Oiling

Last but not least, check any moving parts and apply a little oil where necessary to ensure the joints glide smoothly.

Want to take all of this away with you on one easy to print PDF? Click this Link:~ How To Clean Your Spinning Wheel Cheatsheet

Once your wheel is back together, share your comments below if this has helped you, and then go find some fibre and enjoy!

Happy Spinning!


8 Essentials to Make your First Sheep Shearing Awesome

So you’re about to head to your first sheep shearing and you’re wondering what you need? This was me two days ago.

It started with knitting, then dyeing and then spinning. And next I wanted to see where my wool came from. Don’t get me wrong here. I know wool comes from sheep. But there are only so many tutorials you can read and videos you can watch on YouTube. None of this can replace the experience of being there and helping out with sheep shearing day on an actual farm.

I will talk more about the day later, but for now if you are visiting a local farm to help out, then here are my top “I wish I hads” and “I’m glad I hads” that I hope will have you prepared for your first sheep shearing day.

8 Essentials to Make your First Sheep Shearing Awesome Pinterest

1. A proper breakfast!

A yoghurt to prepare yourself for a day of hard-work will just not cut it. A Full English Breakfast or a large bowl of cereal are much better ideas!

2. Good solid boots

Fair enough if you want to turn up in flip flops or trainers. But change quickly into a pair of good solid boots. You need grip and covered feet.

3. A sturdy pair of jeans

Diamante and “designer cuts”? Leave them at home. And unless you want your Levi’s covered in lanolin, dirt, and sheep $*%& a cheap pair from your local supermarket will more than suffice.

4. Layers

Sheep shearing is hard-work, which means you will get hot. As the day goes on you will want to be able to strip off the coat and jumper.

5. A hair tie and sunblock

The hair tie is for those of you with longish hair. If it can be tied back, do it. And sunblock in case the sun comes out because your face, shoulders, and arms are likely to be bare by this point.


6. A bottle of water

Ideally in a bottle with one of the caps you can open with your mouth than a twist top. Your hands will get dirty very quickly. Drink lots of water otherwise you risk becoming disorientated and passing out! Seriously, it is hard work.

7. An expectation to get sheep $*%& on you

You may be skirting the fleeces (i.e. pulling the $*%& off the fleece), helping move sheep between pens, wrestling with them, being pushed on to the floor (remember the solid boots?), and if you are lucky, even shearing one yourself. Whatever it is you do, more than dirt is going to get under your nails (and everywhere else). Deal with it before you arrive on the farm.

8. Enthusiasm

This is the most important of all my tips. Farmers are hard-working people. They get stuck in to what needs doing. Be willing to help with any job, no matter how small it may seem to you, and your presence will be appreciated. You may even be invited back next year!

So those are my tips. The only ones I didn’t have were sunblock, and the big hearty breakfast. But I had a crackingly awesome time and I even got to shear my own sheep. That’s one more thing off the bucket list!

Do you have any of your own “I wish I had” or “I’m glad I hads” for your first sheep shearing? Were any of mine useful to you? Please let me know by leaving a comment.

Happy Crafting!

This 1 Easy Process to Keep your Stash Under Control

My yarn stash is out of control! My fibre stash is not! But what have I done differently? This simple process I have put together, if followed religiously, will help new spinners keep what is very likely to become a new addiction under control.

A few months ago a dear enabler friend loaned me her spinning wheel. As an obsessed avid knitter, dyer, and designer, spinning was naturally going to be the next vice craft for me to partake in. But with such an unruly exciting yarn stash, I could easily see fibre taking over following the same path.

Then an even worse thought entered my head! More fibre and more spinning, leads to even more yarn! Clearly this seemingly traditional and stress reducing craft has a dark side.

In 2014, before spinning, I decided to go cold sheep*. Bear with me here. For the uninitiated, this is where you buy no new yarn for a set period of time. Usually a year. You are allowed to swap yarn, but no newly bought yarn. Anyway, surprisingly, I survived the year. And I was OK about it. Don’t start building any shrines though. There were moments of weakness where yummy skeins of yarn were added to my cart, but no “Pay Now” buttons were clicked. By saying a 100% no, my self-restraint could cope. No was no.

Stash 2013
My yarn stash before the 2014 cold sheep experiment

This previous experience triggered an idea. What if I could buy a braid of fibre, spin it AND knit it, all before I buy the next braid of fibre? This would require a higher level of self-control. I would be allowing myself to buy fibre, but only under certain conditions. Though, would I start trying to justify a purchase to myself? I might start saying “but I need two braids to make the yarn to knit this” or “it might not be here next time”. I’ve been in this situation with yarn and I’ve caved into the little devil sitting on my shoulder before.

A few days passed and I was starting to think that, really, this is still a no means no situation. Which I succeeded at before. Why would this be any different? So I started. My first spinning was a braid of my own. A Polwarth and Merino D’Arles top in the colour Tropics. I finished spinning, I knitted it up, and I even gifted the item to my enabling dear friend. Then I purchased my next braid from Artist’s Palette Yarns. I spun it, knitted it up, and then went in search for my next braid. It was working.

Handspun Tropics-1.jpg
My first hand spun and knitted garment using the Whirl Me Away Cowl pattern

Today, I still have no extra fibre in my stash. I am waiting for our excellent post man to deliver my next parcel so that I may again repeat the process that is so far working for me. As with my year of cold sheep with yarn, fibre has made it into carts during moments of weakness. But no “Pay Now” buttons or credit cards have been handed over whilst I have not completed a braid in progress from fibre to finished item.

If you are new to spinning then maybe this could work for you too! If you are not new to spinning, then perhaps a tweaked version of this would work. Maybe you spin and knit two braids, before you buy the next one?

*I did allow myself one yarn purchase. And this was purely because our holiday that year was in Iceland and I was not going to be leaving the country unless I had some of the famous Icelandic lopi! I left with 4 x 50g balls of natural coloured lace and a pattern book of Icelandic lace shawls. That was it.

My First (unsupervised) Spinning!

Technically my first hand-spun was created around 5 or 6 years ago. I was gifted a 2 day course for my Birthday in beginner spinning at Mayshot Orchard by my parents. A gorgeous cottage in the countryside of East Anglia and a pear orchard with a small flock of rare breed sheep. Jayne had several wheels of differing sizes and constructions, bags upon bags of fleece, and oodles of knowledge to pass on to willing pupils. I even remember her telling us that the cavity walls of the house were filled with sheep fleece as insulation – yarny heaven!

Upon arrival the wheels were set up for us. We were introduced to the basics of sheep fleece, practised some carding, and were then let loose on the wheels under her guidance and supervision. We even went for a stroll to the orchard to meet the sheep whose fleeces we were spinning. Leaving after two days of learning and spinning I took away a little ball of yarn containing a huge range of sheep breeds and alpaca. Even a little dog hair!

Now I’ve been lent a wheel by a lovely lady and I’ve started spinning on my own. Hence why I’m calling this my first hand-spun unsupervised. I set myself up in my craft room, duly named because it really isn’t much use as a spare bedroom anymore! A very different environment from the quaint cottage I first learnt in, but workable all the same.

With no carders available my Suffolk sheep fleeces were to sit there a little longer, and instead I broke open one of the Polwarth and Merino D’Arles tops from the shop. Splitting the top down the middle, I carefully (and somewhat clumsily) spun two relatively uneven plies of wool. They were then plied together to create the yarn in the photo.

The final yarn varies between a fingering, double knit, and aran weight yarn, and I’m chuffed to bits with it! I will enjoy finding the perfect pattern for this. But for now my foot just wants to keep pedalling. It has been a long time since Mayshot Orchard, but one skein and I think I have another fibre related addiction!