Handspinning Yarn

A tightly spun wool yarn made from fibre with a long staple length in it is called worsted. It is hand spun from combed top, and the fibres all lie in the same direction as the yarn. A woollen yarn, in contrast, is hand spun from a rolag or other carded fibre (roving, batts), where the fibres are not as strictly aligned to the yarn created. The woollen yarn, thus, captures much more air, and makes for a softer and generally bulkier yarn. There are two main techniques to create these different yarns: short draw creates worsted yarns, and long draw creates woollen yarns. Often a spinner will spin using a combination of both techniques and thus make a semi-worsted yarn.

Short draw spinning is used to create worsted yarns. It is spun from combed roving, sliver or wool top. The spinner keeps his/her hands very close to each other. The fibres are held, fanned out, in one hand, and the other hand pulls a small number from the mass. The twist is kept between the second hand and the wheel. There is never any twist between the two hands.

Long draw is spun from a carded rolag. The rolag is spun without much stretching of the fibres from the cylindrical configuration. This is done by allowing twist into a short section of the rolag, and then pulling back, without letting the rolag change position in one's hands, until the yarn is the desired thickness. The twist will concentrate in the thinnest part of the roving; thus, when the yarn is pulled, the thicker sections with less twist will tend to thin out. Once the yarn is the desired thickness, enough twist is added to make the yarn strong. Then the yarn is wound onto the bobbin, and the process starts again.

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