Spinning in the Old Way: How (and Why) To Make Your Own Yarn With A High-Whorl Handspindle

Spinning Yarn
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Some Spinning Terminology

With your front hand, pinch off the accumulated twist. Your back hand the one holding your fiber supply gently pulls backward for half a staple length; the front hand releases built-up twist, filling the just-drafted bit of yarn with air. Other than the front hand releasing the initial twist, this is a one-armed maneuver.

Step 1: Materials

Your fiber hand draws smoothly back as far as feels comfortable, then forward again, all while the natural tug of the expanding twist attenuates the fiber at the same rate. To stabilize the yarn as you draw your arm back, close your fingers around the drafting zone and more twist will build. Wind on. You may find that moving your arm farther away from your body provides a better angle.

Making yarn: How to spin on a drop spindle

First, draw back several inches or more , as in nos. Stop frequently to check your ply-back sample for adequate twist, just as when spinning wool. Since cotton itself has no elasticity, and since breakage can be more of an issue than when spinning wool, a chain- or Navajo-ply is not well suited to this yarn. Just do your best to ply to balance, stopping to check your freshly plied yarn.

With fresh bobbins, now try spinning your rolags—and any other preparations you may have on hand. Much ado has been made about the ways to finish handspun cotton. This is not the space to examine them all. Does it spin too slow or too fast? Where can it be stored when not in use? Think of all possible questions and find answers to avoid disappointment in the future.

At the start of my spinning journey, I invested in two Ashford Country Spinners. I was spinning the long, coarse wool of the Hungarian Racka sheep to make bags and rugs for sale. The large bobbins hold 1 kilogram 2 pounds of yarn, and the orifice is big enough to spin bulky yarn for weaving and plying which makes it the ideal wheel for art yarns. It also happens to be a double treadle which is kind on your lower legs.

Once you have procured a wheel, bobbins, and carded wool, it is time to sit down for a spell. Familiarize yourself with all the parts of your particular wheel whorl, bobbin, flyer, etc. Hook the string around the first hook on the flyer, and get ready to treadle. Start by drafting some fiber drawing out a thinner amount from your batt and spin the wheel clockwise to set it in motion. Once the bobbin begins to spin, your starter yarn will twist together with the drafted wool.

Spinning is all about the twist. Keep this idea in mind as your hands and feet work together to produce the smoothest yarn possible. Draft the fibers, let them twist as the motion pulls them onto the bobbin, and draft more fibers as the process continues. Move the growing yarn along the flyer hooks to keep it evenly balanced on the bobbin. That said, the end results can be amazing! So keep at it, and learn to choose the right fibers for the job at hand.

Then move onto another self-reliant activity of weaving a great homesteading hobby for the winter months and find the perfect loom for making bags, cloth, and rugs. It may also be helpful to try spinning wool that has been prepared in a different way. Top is a fiber that has been run through a wool comb with fibers going in the same direction and very little air between them. Roving is wool that has been through a commercial carding machine, and most of the fibers will lay in the same directions. Batts consist of fibers that have been brushed and blended and are perfect for bulky and weaving yarns.

Rolags are perfect for spinning thick or thin yarn. Plant fibers are spun in a similar way to wool, though they may require extra processing.

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Hemp, nettle, sisal, and flax can be bought already prepared for spinning, and they are wonderful for hard-wearing yarns. In some cases, they can be next-to-the-skin soft too. It all depends on the staple length of the fiber and how well they are combed. Cotton is a more difficult fiber to spin because of the short fiber length. If you choose to spin cotton, the drop spindle is your friend. This book had a lot of potential - great spinning teacher, big publisher, professional layout and photographer - but the execution leaves a lot to be desired.

The overall impression I had was that of a spinning class for beginners where the teacher says "Spinning is a great hobby, you can do this, and this, and this, and this, it's really great - well, sorry, I don't have the time to explain HOW to do it, but you'll figure it out". There's supposedly a little bit of everything, but for a beginner the explanations are just not detailed enough and even for me, with some years of experience, the "rainbow pot" didn't work out. Now, that's just the general impression, but there's also a number of specific points to criticize.

First of all, the pictures are not very good.

First steps in Handspinning: How to make a CD spindle and start spinning your own yarn today

The "closeup" shots of yarn and fibre are not close enough and the pictures don't always go very well with the text: The different types of spinning wheel bobbin-lead, scotch tension, double drive are illustrated with full frontal shots of the wheels - you can see pedals and drivewheel, but not even guess how drive band and brake band are running - which is the only difference between the wheel types. Then, on page "The hooks on most flyers are offset, which makes it easier to fill the bobbins evenly.

You move the yarn from the hook on the right side to the hook on the left side, from one end of the flyer to the other" - for that to work the hooks need to be on opposite sides of the flyer arms so that both rows of hooks are visible - or invisible - at the same time when the flyer is horizontal and this is NOT the case on the wheel that's shown on this page.

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Spinning in the Old Way: How (and Why) To Make Your Own Yarn With A Why) To Make Your Own Yarn With A High-Whorl Handspindle Paperback – April 5, Happy Classy Drop Spindle Top Whorl Yarn Spinning Hand Carved 12" L. Editorial Reviews. Review [A] timely and comprehensive handbook that is never I have several books on hand-spinning and this is THE best. I learned to spin on a high-whorl spindle by buying one and doing the spinny thing with my .

On page we have a picture of a skein of angora yarn and the text says "Do you see how much bigger the yarn is now that it's fulled? So, don't buy the book for the pictures. Well, normally I wouldn't anyway - but the title is "Teach yourself visually Which implies that you are supposed to learn from the pictures Textwise, the technical information on spinning wheels is unclear, incomplete or just plain wrong.

Examples: Page "A bobbin-driven wheel is the fastest of the wheel types, but it doesn't offer you much control" - what's that supposed to mean? Spinning wheel speed is a function of the transmission ratio between drive wheel and whorl a concept that's never mentioned anywhere , and incidentally the bobbin-driven wheels I know are all on the slow side. Page "You have more control on a double-drive wheel than you do on a bobbin-driven wheel, but less speed" and finally the flyer-driven wheel is "the slowest of the three types".

What is that supposed to mean? Then, what are we supposed to learn from sentences like this one: "If you have the wheel-maker's instructions, it should tell you how to replace the bobbin. If you do not have the instructions, every wheel should have some way to take the flyer off so that you can replace the bobbin" page By the way, nowhere is mentioned that the whorl on the double-drive wheel usually unscrews clockwise - that might have been a piece of useful information.

Regarding information that's just plain wrong, here's one example: "Remember to put the drive band on the big end of the bobbin if you are using a scotch brake and on the small end if you are using a double drive" page 71 - wrong!

And, by the way, whether you run one loop of the double drive band over the big bobbin whorl or the small one if there's a whorl at both ends as in the case of Kromski bobbins depends on the flyer whorl you are using and the twist and take-up ratio you want to achieve - it's not automatically the small whorl! Another peeve: Judith McKenzie McCuin mostly avoids traditional spinning terminology and anything that might make spinning seem technical.

Instead of "drafting" she uses mostly "stretching", instead of "S- and Z-twist" "left and right twist and I like her explanation with the thumb - but would it really have hurt to mention that other sources use S and Z? In sum, don't bother buying this book unless you want to learn something about how to not write books about crafting.

For learning about spinning, nearly any other book will be better. However, you will need to get several different books to cover the same area as Judith MacKenzie McCuin - but at least then the subjects will be treated more comprehensively. Deb Menz gives very precise dye recipes - but only for one family of dyes: Sabraset and Sabracron F. This book is absolutely NOT for a beginner. Deb Menz demands a degree of precision that takes the fun right out of dyeing. On the other hand, safety precautions are given exactly two paragraphs! If you want to go professional and need to reproduce your results, THEN it's time for buying this book - if you still think you need it.

I find this book highly overrated.

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It's not a complete book on dyeing because Menz only ever works with one single type of dye. If you just need some basic information about synthetic dyes, you might look at Diane Varney's book or at Rachel Brown's. Or get another book altogether, but I can't help you there, sorry. The information is there - but reading it is not very pleasurable example: "There has now been described three quite different styles of preparation and spinning and it is time to give some idea of when each would be appropriate" and the book has a distinctly "home-made" and not in a good way feel to it.

If you live in the British Isles and can get hold of the book cheaply you can buy it if you don't want to fork out more money for a better-made book. Otherwise I'm tempted to say it's just not worth it - except: "The essentials of Yarn Design for handspinners" often refers back to this book. So if you want to be sure that you really understand the second book, you'll need the first one. The basic idea behind this book is the following: Yarn that has the same twist angle has the same "hand" feel - no matter whether it's thick or thin.

Thin yarn needs more twists per inch to have the same twist angle as thick yarn. If you know your wheel's ratio, you can control the twists per inch of your yarn and thus its twist angle and its hand by feeding in more or less yarn per threadle, i. The book is a classic and its basic idea, as summarized above, is certainly an essential one for every handspinner if they have a wheel!

For spindle spinning the book is useless.