My legendary lack of eye-hand coordination had been getting the better of me in my attempts to learn to use a drop spindle (and in fact, I was starting to refer to mine as a "throw spindle" because of the way in which I managed to lose control and throw the thing across the room while trying to get it spinning), so I signed up for a class.
Today we had our first of two sessions at A Verb for Keeping Warm in Berkeley (my first visit to an ActiveSpace business; it was an interesting location). And here's my first bit of spun yarn:
The thing that helped me the most was learning a different way of drafting the fiber; I had been trying to do this thing where you inch your hands up the fiber while the spindle spins, and it just required me to keep track of too many things. Kristine showed us how to spin from the fold which just sort of worked right for me, with only a few bad moments (overspinning to the point of breaking the yarn, and once just getting disoriented and unspinning instead of spinning so the yarn fluffed apart).
Spinning from the fold produces a woolen yarn (light and lofty, with a tendency to pill and develop an aura), whereas I was trying to make a worsted yarn (smooth, tight, more durable). I'm being calm and letting my inner perfectionist shut up about how little I like knitting woolen yarns (which isn't true; I just don't like dealing with woolen yarns in a finished garment).
We have another session next week, before which I have to spin up two more wads of yarn about this size and wind them into balls. I'm actually looking forward to it.