Woolen Spun

Before I start whittering on like I know something about spinning l thought I’d show all the non-spinners out there the Sophie progress. It’s getting more and more bonkers every round and I’m sure there is plenty more silliness to go. I missed a week due to our trip down South so have been playing catch up ever since, I’m not quite there yet but I’m definitely enjoying the journey.

Right that’s it for crochet, on to spinning. Time for anyone (everyone?!?) not interested in spinning to go. Cheerio.

For all of you who have stuck with me, biscuit anyone? Since I bought a lovely wheel that can do all manner of super things I thought it would be a good idea to try and move my spinning beyond the beginners ‘inch worm’ technique that I’ve been relying on perfectly well for years. Actually, it was after watching some films on YouTube about Schacht wheels that also happened to demonstrate long draw spinning when my curiosity perked up and raised her slightly dangerous head out of the fibre bag.

Long draw spinning is a type of drafting that produces woolen yarn. Apparently not all wool yarn is the same, well I kind of knew that but hadn’t discovered why or how. The yarn I had been spinning was a kind of semi-worsted (not true worsted as I’m too lazy to prepare my fibre properly) where the individual fibres, usually from commercially made top or combed fleece, lie in the same direction for a smooth and fairly hard wearing yarn. Woolen yarn however is made from carded fibre that has been spun to make lofty and soft, bouncy yarn, not so hard wearing but springy and squeezable (a little like myself).

First of all, to spin using long draw, you need quite a leap of faith because you suspect the result will be the mother of all slubs as instead of controlling the twist and stopping it from entering the drafting zone, you use the twist to draft the wool. It involves using just one hand (for you purists, this is a description of American long draw not English) (I think, feel free to correct me) and once the wool is joined onto the leader, you draw your arm right back behind you to one side, until you run out of arm, then let it all wind onto the bobbin in one great wind-y thing, and start again. It a quick way to spin and has been used traditionally for many years.

With my wheel in double drive (Scotch tension is the more often recommended tension for this, I’m such a rebel) and my faith leapt, I dug out some washed Jacob fleece and decided the prepare it as I went along. 

That’s the fleece, washed to remove the worst of the grease, then I separated some individual locks, just as they came to hand, not paying attention to the colour

I used one hand carder to roughly card each lock

and because I wasn’t making rolags, I spun from the fold as you would if you were using combed top.

It’s really hard to take a selfie whilst spinning!  Once plied, the result was a small 40g skein of perfectly soft, cushy wool, much softer than when I’ve spun from the same fleece using the inch worm ‘wriggle’. It’s all somewhat lumpy and bumpy, like any new technique I imagine it will take some practising but it’s great fun, is superfast and I’ve now moved onto trying it with some shetland.

2 thoughts on “Woolen Spun

  1. Anne Davis

    It looks very Squidgy!!
    I always find your blog very easy to follow because you explain things in terms I can understand even as a non-spinning, non-wrapping, non- weaving person. Xxx


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