To Spin a Yarn
First, Choose a Wheel
When choosing a wheel, you are faced with many options. Begin by prioritize what you are looking for. Do you want a first time wheel that is inexpensive and easy to operate? Is a traditional style important or do you need portability? What type of yarn do you want to spin? What are the advantages of having a double treadle where you use both feet? Should the wheel be a single or double drive?
Why choose a Single versus a Double Treadle?
The biggest advantage of the double treadle is that it offers the spinner more control. When both feet are involved in bicycle style treadling, it is easier to control the wheel when you want to stop and start the wheel. For beginning spinners this is very helpful. It is easier to get the feel of regulating your speed and keeping the wheel going in the correct direction with a double treadle. Also, the symmetry of the double treadle does not tire your back as quickly as using a single treadle. With both feet and legs active when using the double treadle, most people find that it is less stressful or tiring, an important factor if you have a sensitive back.
What are drive ratios?
Think of drive ratios like gears in vehicle. First gear gets the car moving and fourth or fifth gear is used for cruising at the speed limit. Beginning spinners, like beginning drivers need to start out slow. Low drive ratios (speed that the bobbin turns in relation to the wheel revolutions) are best for beginning spinners. With the drive band on the largest whorl for the slowest drive ratio, less twist enters your fiber. This allows your hands time to keep up with the speed or your treadling. As your spinning skills advance, you can move to faster drive ratios.
What are Single or Double Drives?
Single and Double drive refers to the drive band that goes around the wheel. A single drive band is a cotton or nylon cord that goes once around the wheel and flyer or bobbin. You need a separate tensioning device - a screw attached to a line and spring with the Ashford or a screw and piece of leather with the Louet - to assist the bobbin to take up the yarn. Single drive, also referred to as scotch tension wheels, are usually easier for beginning spinners to master.
A double drive band is a continuous cord that loops twice around the wheel and once around the bobbin and a flyer whorl. The take-up tension of the double drive is controlled by loosening or tightening the drive band. When spinning fine or slippery fibers like silk or angora, the gentle draw-in of the double drive is preferred. When spinning with a long draw, using a single drive with a brake band you will have a stronger wind-on.
Traditional or Castle Style Wheel?
The classic looking spinning wheel is referred to as a Saxony or Traditional style of wheel. It has a large wheel and long footman, which gives the wheel good momentum. Castle style wheels are more upright and compact, which makes them easier to transport. Both styles spin wonderful yarn, depending on the skill of the person spinning.
How do you choose the perfect first wheel?
Ideally,go give some wheels a test drive before making your purchase. Different wheels appeal to different folks, and you should find the one that inspires you to spin. If you would like to talk about spinning wheels, call Phylleri at 570-651-5261 or e-mail your questions to
Pre drafting your fiber not only makes spinning easier, but also effects color, uniformity, speed and twist.
There are several methods to pre-draft your fiber depending on the nature of the material that you are working with. If the roving is dense and does not pull apart easily in your hand, then try bonging it. Hold the roving in both hands with your hands separated apart by about 6 inches. Sharply, but gently give a tug with both hands in the opposite direction. Feel the roving snap as the fiber is loosened up. Do this the length of your roving. If you pull the fiber apart, either the roving is light enough already or you are pulling it too hard.
Some roving and top is so thick that it is much easier to spin if you first strip it apart lengthwise. Divide the roving 2 or more times, until it is a thickness that will spin easily for you. If you want a superfine yarn, you can pull off strips as thin as possible, before you spin it. If you are a beginning spinner and your yarn is thick and thin, then pre-drafting your fiber may improve the uniformity of your spinning.
Dyed Rovings can be greatly affected by pre-drafting. If there is a repetition of a color pattern, you can control how the colors are combined by tearing off and aligning your strips of roving to achieve the desired results.
Prepared fiber, either batts, roving or top, spin much smoother if they are first opened up and allowed to breath and expand. The stretching and pulling of predrafting will speed up your spinning and help you achieve your spinning goals.