I Got All Four On!

Yes, you heard me right!  I got all four ounces of the Falkland onto one bobbin.  My bobbins typically hold about 2.5 ounces.  Huzzah!  (Fiber courtesy of AllSpunUp)

Over on Ravelry, I’ve had people ask me, “How did you spin that?”, and I always have to stop and think..  What is the appropriate answer here?  I spin the way I spin!  So as I’ve given more and more thought to this question, and the interesting articles in Spin Off Magazine, I think I have narrowed it down to two styles.  Now granted, I do them my way (just like Frank Sinatra), but I think it’s helpful to know how your style would be classified for a variety of reasons.

First, when spinners look at your yarn, they may see a quality about it that they love – could be that it’s smooth, or that it’s very squishy, or that it’s very fluffy.  The way that we spin, coupled with the wool we use produce different results.  If you want to be able to help some one learn to spin something similar to yours, it helps to know how you got to your end result.

Second, It’s important for you to know how you got your end result!  You may find that you like the result of drafting one way vs. another for a specific type of wool, or even a specific type of project.  It also teaches you self correction.  If you don’t your product, what could you have done differently to produce the ideal end result?  You can really only figure this out if you know how you spun the stuff!

At this point we could go on and discuss woolen and worsted, but those are easy – lighter fluffy yarns tend to be woolen, dense, smooth yarn tends to be worsted.  How you get each of these is the key – it’s how you draft.  The single on the bobbin above is spun using a short draw, meaning I pull a small amount of wool from my fiber towards the orifice.  I try to keep this the width of my thumb.  It produces a very dense and sturdy result for me, and works well with fiber that is very well aligned (as in all the fibers are like happy little soldiers just standing straight in formation)

This bobbin has a completely different look going on, doesn’t it?  single isn’t dense, there are bits of fluff sticking out every where, and look at the roving!  The fibers are all doing their own thing.  Try and spin this stuff with a short draw.  You’re going to be disappointed and frustrated when you realize that you can’t pull forth a wee bit and draft – it comes off in clumps and the fibers don’t move as a cohesive unit.

In this instance, I use my own brand of a long draw.  Holding the roving in my right hand, I pinch the twist ever so slightly with the fingers on my left hand while pulling back with my right.  Both hands are working together to allow twist to enter the fiber while drafting slowly away from the orifice.  For me, this offers a great solution to working with roving because I’m letting the fibers stay together while I draft them apart just enough to allow the twist to do its work and turn them into yarn.  I don’t have to fight with it, there’s very little tugging and I end up with a ‘lofty’ result.  I will add that my hands don’t get much more than about 4 – 6 inches apart when I do this.  My left hand controls the twist, my right hand pulls back taking advantage of the fact that some of the fiber has already passed my left hand, and it wants to cling to the fibers behind my right hand.  I also like to spin combed top this way if I want a lighter yarn – it works wonderfully with merino/silk blends.

Here’s an example of merino silk I spun in this fashion from Hungry for Handspun.  See how it’s smooth yet has a nice squish factor?  Had I used a short draw, it would have probably been a very dense yarn.  Mmmm…    Me likey teh squish.

I have to tell you that there is one caution here.  Either way you do it – draft in one direction.  If you try to combine drafting your fiber forward towards the wheel with pulling it away from the wheel, you’re going to confuse the fiber and it won’t know which direction to go.  You end up with a traffic jam of sorts with big clumps of fiber gumming up the works.  This happens particularly with combed top because the fibers go in one direction.  If you try and get them to go in reverse, they get hung up on each other and make a mess.

So now that I’ve droned on, made your brain go all splodey, and told you all kinds of crap that you already know, go forth and be merry, and make sure you honor Frank and do it your way.

( And if I bored you with information you already knew, well then, tough.  There are new spinners every where that need to get the basics without having to wade through too much terminology and stuff.)

PS – Buy the September issue of Spin-Off.  I don’t think it’s super good at teaching each of the different styles of long/short draw, but it does a nice job at explaining things.

PPS – The natural oatmealy goodness is courtesy of my lovely friend, Dani.  She and her wool rock my socks.

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5 responses to “I Got All Four On!

  • Manise

    Your beautiful singles up top are very well named- Jewels of Denial. The shiny metallic color reminds me of a scarab or a Japanese beetle. Gorgeous!

  • Zonda

    I never get tired of you splaining it to me…now if I could only DO it that’s another thing. Athough it does explain even more so why me clumps come out…hmmm 2nd bobbin of my SCM is so much betterz! Off to find my coupon for the Spinoff

  • Barb

    This kind of talk is starting to make a bit of sense to me now. Doing it while making the wheel go round and dealing with unexpected clumps is something else! I’ll have to grab that issue of SpinOff. What kind of wheel do you have?

  • Rae

    That is freaking gorgeous I love the way it came out. All your spun up yarn looks great.

  • Daniele

    I knew that was mine!! 😀 What a great job you have done with it! Kudos my Megan!

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