Who knows how this started but for the past week I have been obsessively looking up sources for cost effective spinning fibre even though I don't have a clue on how to spin. Of course, those who know me or have read my blog know how chinsy I am with yarn & knitting supplies. By god, I love doing it but simply cannot justify the cost!!!
I suppose it's because I am at that point where I am simply unsatisfied with the quality of cheap yarn but nice yarns (merino, cashmere, bamboo, silk, alpaca, etc/) in pretty colors costs so much dough!!! But I want it... *pout* How can I justify $12+ for a 50g skein when a sweater will probably require 12 skeins? Luckily I may never have the attention span to knit up a full sweater but that's another matter to discuss.
So somehow...I was probably on Etsy looking at handspun art yarn listings, somewhere thrown in there were rovings or top listings. I had no idea what that meant. So I Google'd it, got interested, read up on handspinning and it didn't seem too hard. It looks like something that just requires practice and experience paired with good raw materials. Then the perfect looking spindle for someone like me came along and I can't get over this new found obsession and question: To spin or not to spin?
After some extensive research on the cost of fibre available online and from nearby alpaca farms, it seemed that after shipping, spinning & dyeing, your own yarn will be cheaper. However, considering the effort, cost of spare time & labour, not really by that much? I really sat down and crunched those numbers.
Some things to consider:
1) Raw fleece requires washing & carding (lotta work) and you lose about half the weight after the process.
2) If you choose to wash & card yourself, you must have the tools to do it, the price of which varies depending on ease & efficiency of machine/tool(s).
3) You have the option to send raw fleece away for processing into rovings.
4) You will probably knit with at least 2 ply which will be another spinning process.
So...here're my backwards calculations:
Worsted Weight @ 12 wpi (wraps per inch) - 1 lb (16 oz) = 900-1200 yards
Compare to: 1 x Worsted Merino 50g/100yd @ approx. $5/ea x 12 = $60
2 lbs raw fleece @ $10/lb = $20
wash/card yourself = free -or- Process at mill into rovings @ $1.5/oz x 16 oz = $24
16 oz x $3/oz rovings-to-spin-to-yarn = $48
ALL DIY $60 - $20 = $40
Buy raw fleece, send away for process to roving = $60 - $20 - $24 = $16
Buy rovings to spin = $60 - $48 = $12
** If anyone thinks these figures are way off, please comment. They are the results of my "research" & bargain hunting online for lowest/average pricing. By the way, these calculations did not take into consideration the cost of shipping if you were to purchase materials & services remotely.
Is it worth it? Well I don't know just yet. Unless I find better deals to start with I'm not sure I will allow myself to start this hobby. I just have to fight the urge to buy that Trixie Spindle... Honestly, it seems like a helluva lot of effort. Surely spinning enthusiasts will say otherwise. I guess my only other concern here, is feeling kind of silly (even though I am sure I will love it if I tried) when my bf sees me pick up another "useless" hobby, doing something that the Industrial Revolution basically eliminated however many years ago.