I've been spinning for about 3 years now. I remember when I first started, I felt like I was all over the place. Your feet are pumping, your hands are pulling and pinching and everything is moving at once. It wasn't until I relaxed and broke down the actual motion, that I found spinning to be less intimidating. The first mistake I made when spinning is trying to master everything at once. I wanted to sit down at the wheel and make yarn...immediately!
The second mistake I made was that I couldn't get it through my head that the goal is not to "feed" the wheel. I felt that I needed to push the fiber through the wheel, and that's not necessarily correct. All the work on the spinner's part, happens outside the wheel. Once I got this, spinning clicked for me. I try to think of the wheel simply as a holding device that draws the finished yarn in.
(In learning to spin, the Golden Retriever is desired, but not required.)
Once you have your feet under control, it's time for your hands. I'm working with our own Mohair Roving from our Angora Goats. The fibers are all aligned and ready to be spun. (To view Iron Oak Farm's collection of natural and hand dyed fiber click here, IOF Mohair Roving)
To begin, you will need to set up the bobbin, and thread the wheel. (See my post Threading the Wheel for more on this)
Once this feels comfortable take a bit of the roving and stretch or draft out about 3 to 4 inches. Get the wheel spinning and as the lead yarn starts twisting, touch the drafted roving to the yarn. The fibers will grab each other and the lead yard will start twisting the roving as well. You can now start spinning!
I spin left handed so if you are right handed, you will probably feel more comfortable switching the following directions. When I spin I use my right hand as the brake hand, and my left hand as the stretching hand.
Once I'm pleased with the amount of roving that is drafted, I slide my right hand down the "Y" and allow this fiber to be twisted. (Spinning from the "Y" can also mean something else in fiber, I can talk about that in the future.)