By Jill Holbrook 

Jill's spinning wheel

Jill’s spinning wheel

Spinning wheels are the next technological step up from spindles. The first spinning wheel was a spindle wheel. The wheel was turned by hand and the spinner had to stop the wheel and change the angle of the spun yarn to wind on. The treadle wheel was another advance. The treadle and flyer allowed the spinner to continue spinning while the yarn was twisted and wound onto a bobbin. A spinning wheel can be a big investment. It is best to try them out and know what you types of yarn you want to spin before buying a wheel 

Spinning Steps:

Spin: turn spindle (or wheel) clockwise.

Draft: pull the wool out allowing twist to go into the wool. Keep hands at least one staple length apart.


Pinch: hold wool to keep twist from going into drafting zone.

Wind spun yarn onto spindle.

Practice. Practice. Practice. Spin a little everyday. Have patience. Spinning is a new skill and takes time for your hands to learn the moves.


The fiber won’t draft: Too much twist is going into the fiber package. Untwist the fiber by hand until the fiber will draft. This can also happen if your hands are too close together.

The spindle keeps reversing: There is too much twist built up in the yarn. You need to draft faster or simply stop the spindle from spinning while you draft.

The yarn falls apart: There is not enough twist in the yarn or the spindle is reversing and untwisting your yarn.

The yarn is breaking: The yarn is too thin or is overtwisted.

The yarn is overtwisted: You need to draft faster or stop the spindle from spinning while you draft.

The yarn is lumpy: The fiber is poorly prepared or you are not drafting smoothly. Treasure the lumps. Once you get comfortable spinning  a smooth yarn it is difficult to get a lumpy yarn without a bit of effort.

Twist and Grist

Spinning yarn clockwise is called a Z twist. This is the traditional way to spin most fibers except linen. The more twist the harder and stronger the yarn. For soft yarns there are fewer twists per inch.

Grist is how thick the yarn is. To make yarn thicker you allow more fibers into the twist or you ply.  For thinner yarns there are fewer fibers.

DO YOU LOVE YARN? Part 3 talks about Fiber Prep, Plying and Spinning Tools.

 Check it out!!


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