Spinning in the Grease

Hand spinners are split, when spinning wool, as to whether it is better to spin it 'in the grease' (with lanolin still in) or after it has been washed. More traditional spinners are more willing to spin in the grease, as it is less work to wash the wool after it is in yarn form. Spinners who spin very fine yarn may also prefer to spin in the grease as it can allow them to spin finer yarns with more ease. Spinning in the grease covers the spinner's hands in lanolin and, thus, softens the spinner's hands.

Spinning in the grease only works really well if the fleece is newly sheared. After several months, the lanolin becomes sticky, which makes it harder to spin using the short draw technique, and it’s almost impossible to spin using the long draw technique. In general, spinners using the long draw technique do not spin in the grease.                                                                                                                                     

Spinners who don't spin in the grease generally buy their fibres pre-washed and carded, in the form of tow or roving. This means less work for the spinner, as they do not have to wash the lanolin out. It also means that one can spin pre-dyed fibre, or blends of fibres, which are very hard to create when the wool is still in the grease. As machine carders cannot card wool in the grease, pre-carded yarn generally isn't spun in the grease. Some spinners, however, use spray-on lanolin-like products to get the same feel of spinning in the grease with this carded fibre.

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