Learn to Spin on a Drop Spindle


A woman holds a wooden top whorl drop spindle in front of her as she spins some red fiber.
Raeli drop spinning

This blog post is meant to supplement the class that we have available for free on YouTube. You can purchase your own drop spindle kit in our online store. Before we dive into it, I want to take a moment to thank my friends Becky and Ashley for teaching me how to spin.


Throughout the post, I will refer to your "front hand" or "hand in front" and your "back hand" or "hand in back". When you are spinning, one hand will be closer to the spindle (the front hand) and one will be holding the bulk of the fiber (the back hand). It doesn't matter if your right or left hand is in front. Just do what is the most comfortable for you.


Drafting


Drafting is the process of pulling fiber in order to lessen the linear density so that you can control the thickness of your yarn. Different types of fibers have different staple lengths. In simple terms, the staple length is how long you can draw (draft) before it separates. If you find your fiber constantly separating while you draft, try doing shorter pulls.


How to Draft

Hold the bulk of your fiber in the palm of your back hand, pinching an inch or so from the front end of the fiber between your thumb and index finger. With the index finger and thumb of your front hand, gently pull the fiber. Immediately move the fingers on your front hand to replace the fingers of your back hand. If you are spinning or have twist in your yarn, this will prevent the twist from entering the bulk of the fiber. Once your front hand is in place, move your back hand back, gently pulling on the fiber to perform a backwards draft. You could instead just move your back hand back and then gently pull forward with your front hand to do a forward draft. Move your hands again, front first then back, and repeat this process.


Why Twist Direction Matters


Since we are all pretty much beginners, I am going to keep it simple. If you spin your singles clockwise, ply by spinning counter-clockwise. If you spin your singles counter-clockwise, ply by spinning clockwise. But, which way is the right way? Well it depends on which direction you want your final twist to be in (Z twist or S twist).


S twist is the most common and what most spinning instructors will tell you to do. It is created by spinning your singles clockwise and then plying counter-clockwise. S twist yarns are best for knitting with.


Z twist is created by spinning your singles counter-clockwise and then plying clockwise. Yarns with Z twist are best for crocheting because of how you wrap your yarn around your hook.


Chances are you have crocheted with S twist yarns, and the world hasn't ended. You probably wouldn't really be able to tell a huge difference. So, I wouldn't stress too much about this. It's just something that will be good to know for the future.


Things I Wish I Knew When I Started

  1. It's easier to draft if you split your fiber into smaller widths.

  2. Heavier drop spindles are better for thicker yarns and lighter drop spindles are better for thinner yarns. The drop spindles in our kits are best for spinning medium weight yarns.

  3. If your yarn keeps breaking, you're probably spinning too thin.

  4. There is nothing wrong with taking the extra time to pre-draft.

  5. The park and draft method is actually a lot of fun and perfect for sitting on the couch and watching TV.

I think that about covers what I wanted to go in more depth about for the Beginning Spinning class. There is so much more to all of this, but I don't want to overwhelm you with information and scare you away!


Thanks for being here,

Raeli



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