Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tips And Tricks for Learning to Spin Yarn on a Wheel

Mark, a relatively new reader sent me an e-mail asking if I had ever put together a list of common mistakes beginners make when learning to spin.

So, I Came Up With One
Actually, I came up with a list of 10 ideas about my own spinning that allowed me to learn how to spin and spin relatively consistently.

Here's the list I came up with:

  1. Prepare your fiber in advance - a lot of spinners unbunch their roving and fluff it up a bit before spinning. It makes it easier to draft while spinning.
  2. Try spinning the thinnest possible single for a particular fiber without over-twisting it...this allows me to find the "sweet spot" for each fiber (even if I decide to spin a much thicker single after I've tested it.
  3. Stay aware of how loosely you hold the roving in your non-spinning hand...I find I tighten up on my grip when I stop thinking about it, and it re-bunches the roving.
  4. Don't be afraid to stop spinning mid-stream to unspin a big blob.
  5. Drafting (regulating how much and how fast the roving passes through your fingers) is a constant process of adapting to changing factors ( the tension or pull from your spinning wheel changes as the bobbin gets full, the roving often has inconsistencys in staple length or smother patches of fiber, barnyard debris can significantly affect your drafting, etc., etc., etc.) Don't ever think once your drafting seems consistent that it will stay that way.
  6. Dream about drafting, constantly imagine the technique of drafting, come up with analogies of what it's like (just like a chimney flue draws smoke upwards, so the tension of your spinning wheel draws fiber)...the more you can envision doing this, the easier it will be when you actually do it (at least that's how I got really good at it).
  7. Draft off the edges of your roving or get a thinner, more even single, I usually draft off the right-hand side of the band of roving, and constantly turn the roving so the wheel is always pulling just from that side of the roving.
  8. Most people draft only with one hand and let the other hand just support the fiber. Once you get a little practiced at spinning, you'll find you can, every once in a while, slow down the flow of fiber by pinching the roving with your non-spinning hand....I use this to great effect when I'm power-spinning a lot of fiber.
  9. Try different drafting techniques for different fibers...drafting from the fold, wet drafting, long-draw, inch-worm.
  10. Observe as many other experienced spinners (at least the ones you think spin well) and try to replicate their techniques.
I'd be interested what other experienced spinners might add to the list.

Other Blog Reader Question
Okay...who's the wise guy/gal who sent this to me anonymously?

I'm perfectly okay with what's printed on the t-shirt...I mean it's true, right?  But whoever sent this to me, sent me an EXTRA LARGE.  How insulting!

See, I practically swim in it.  Well, okay, so it's not so bad and once it shrinks it will be fine...but you didn't know that, did you?  So anyway, thanks to whoever sent such a thoughtful gift.

Current Knitting/Spinning
I got a little bit more done on the Marshall Gloves from Rohn Strong's book Heritage Collection.  Really, I only got up to the section where you increase for the thumb.

But I also did a bit more spinning of the Moonlight and Laughter milk solids roving.  It's spinning up nicely.

blog comments powered by Disqus