Spinning Wool

When I first tried spinning wool, it sounded so easy. I was not prepared for how long it took me to learn. It took me a couple of days of serious practice and guidance from a teacher. Now I love to laugh over my first ball of yarn!

first ball from spinning woolAn example of bad spinning -- normal for a first try

Below I describe what to do with your fingers and hands to actually spin the fiber. Please see the spinning wheel and drop spindle pages for more information on how to use those tools.

How to Spin Wool

Spinning is a simple concept. The hardest part is training your fingers to perform.

  1. Hold the fiber next to the leader yarn and start spinning.
  2. Spin clockwise to make a Z twist. (S twist is used later for plying strands of yarn together.)
  3. Use one hand to pinch the point where the twisted yarn meets the fiber, and the other hand to draft or gently pull apart the fiber as needed so the yarn will be smooth.
  4. Keep going. The pinch regulates the twist and how fast the yarn feeds.

This is the short draw method as used for worsted yarns. If you are ready for more advanced spinning techniques, take a look at these excellent books on Amazon.

Give it a try and don't give up. Spinning fiber is quite fun and soothing once you get the hang of it!

Wool Roving

Spinning yarn from wool roving is a pleasure. I have been spoiled by working from a nice ball of Cotswold spinning wool that I bought at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival a couple of years ago.

Cotswold wool rovingA ball of Cotswold roving so soft and cuddly to spin!

I try to process my own fleeces into nice roving, but they don't turn out quite as nice as what I bought. This is the 1 pound ball after it has been half used. Notice that I pull a finer piece at the end to actually spin from and make yarn.

Types of Roving

It comes in varying thicknesses from thin pencil roving to a larger roving about 3 inches across. True roving sliver will separate into jagged wisps with it's pulled lengthwise.

Combed top is sometimes sold as roving and divides straight across when it's pulled lengthwise. Remember that combed fiber is better for spinning worsted and carded fiber is better for spinning woolen, but you can mix fibers and spinning techniques to produce a yarn somewhere in the middle.

How to Buy Roving for Spinning Wool

Most small farmers who produce wool fiber will offer it as roving or you can buy it from a specialty store. There's even some available so you can shop for roving on Amazon.

If you have raw wool, you can have it prepared by a company like Fingerlakes Yarns or Zeilinger Wool Co. The bundles that are hand dyed are beautiful to see and make it fun to produce variegated yarns.

Or if your urban homestead is like mine and too small for sheep, you can buy raw fiber, card it, and create roving yourself.




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