There are several options for spinning footwear, and each has its ups and downs.
Most spinners I asked were grossed out by the idea of spinning barefoot. There’s an “ick” factor. In the summer I do spin barefoot. (It’s my wheel and my “ick.”) I also spin barefoot on my kick spindle no matter the season. Some prefer to wear shoes for added grip, but my kick spindle responds better to my uncovered feet.
Many handspinners don’t wear shoes when they spin. Shoes that have walked around all day carry dirt and grit, which can make your treadles grimy and even scratch the wood. But when showing a new spinner how to spin yarn on your treasured spinning wheel, you face a conundrum: should you ask the student to wear shoes or no shoes? Most of the time, I ask them to remove their shoes, but when you’re demonstrating at a fiber event, that’s not always practical.
Wearing socks is the most popular choice for spinners we polled. When wearing socks, I feel the energy from the wheel, and I can make fine adjustments to help the wheel respond. Socks are reasonably clean and dry. Plus, feet often get cold. Handspun, handknitted socks are best, of course.
An optional spinning wheel accessory that ranks high on many spinners’ most-wanted list, treadle covers offer protection from the dirt carried by shoes and the barefoot “ick” factor. Plus, the ones made of sheep’s fleece feel divine between your toes.
Of course, if you’re using a spindle or an electric spinning wheel, with or without a foot pedal, what’s on your feet may not matter so much unless you’re going for a stroll.
Posted March 28, 2018. Updated July 18, 2019.