So I tossed the last attempt of mangled roving and tried again this evening. Although it is still pretty uneven and my joins aren't terrific, my 2nd attempt at spinning Merino into a single went much better. I can see why Abby Franquemont suggests practicing 30 minutes a day.
I'm spinning this Merino on a top-whorl spindle that Katie of Domestikated Darling made and sent me. I ordered a Golding 1.9 oz. Ring Spindle (Top Whorl), which is what Golding suggests for beginning spinners. I also signed up for a 2 hr "Intro to Spindle Spinning" class at Natural Stitches at the end of the month. I figured a seasoned spinner will be able to help me with my technique and my drafting.