Worsted Short Draw

Short draw is the spinning technique used to create worsted yarns. It is spun from combed roving, sliver or wool top- anything with the fibres all lined up parallel to the yarn. It is generally spun from long stapled fibres. Short draw spun yarns are smooth, strong, sturdy yarns, and dense. Short draw spun yarns also tend to not be very elastic. These characteristics make them good for use in weaving. Short draw spinning is most often contrasted to the long draw technique used to spin woollen yarns.short draw


The two main characteristics of the short draw technique is that the spinner keeps their hands close to each other, at slightly more than the distance of the fibre length or staple length, and that the twist is kept between the second hand and the wheel- there is never any twist between the two hands. There are three subtypes within the short draw technique, depending on which hand is active. In forward short draw, the hand closest to the wheel is the active hand. The passive hand stays in the same place throughout, gently holding the fibres fanned out into a triangle shape known as the drafting triangle. The active hand moves forward as it pulls fibres from the drafting triangle, and then back as it allows twist into the newly created yarn. Generally about an inch of fibres are pulled from the drafting technique, much less than the fibre length. While drafting (pulling the fibres from the drafting triangle) the twist is kept out of the yarn, and is only allowed in as the active hand moves back towards the passive one. The twist is never allowed to get between the active and the passive hand. When the active hand is back at the distance of the staple length from the passive, the whole technique repeats. In backwards short draw, the hand closest to the wheel is the passive hand. It pinches new fibres, but these are drawn out by the other hand, the one farther from the wheel, as it moves backwards. Once the fibres are all drawn out, the active hand is moved forward, and twist is allowed into the new yarn as it passes through the passive hand. The difference between backwards and forwards short draw is simply which hand is active. In each, one hand is active, and the other is passive. The combination short draw is simply a combination of the other two, with both hands being both active and passive, depending on the moment.

Long draw is the spinning technique used to create woollen yarns. It is spun from carded rolags. It is generally spun from shorter stapled fibres. Long draw spun yarns are light, lofty, stretchy, soft, and full of air, thus they are good insulators, and make good knitting yarns. Long draw spinning is most often contrasted to the short draw technique used to spin worsted yarns.


The first step to spin a true woollen yarn is to card the fibre into a rolag using hand carders. The rolag is spun without much stretching of the fibres from the cylindrical configuration. The hand holding the fibre is the active hand, and the one closer to the wheel is passive. The passive hand smooth’s yarn, picks out vegetable matter, and pulls out extra bits of fluff, but that is all. The work of drafting is done by the active hand, and most of the regulation and smoothing of yarn is done by twist and tension. Drafting is done by pinching off a short section of the rolag, and then pulling back while twist is added to it. The active hand pulls back until the yarn is the desired thickness. The passive hand controls how much twist is allowed in the drafting yarn: too much twist and the yarn won't draft; too little and the yarn will break. Twist concentrates in the thin areas of the yarn, solidifying these. Thus the tension doesn't stretch these parts thinner, but instead drafts the thicker parts until all the yarn is approximately the same thickness. This has the effect of automatically thinning out the thicker parts, which is what allows this technique to work. Once the yarn is the desired thickness, enough twist is added to make the yarn strong. In effect, this is done by releasing the passive hand. Next the yarn is wound onto the bobbin, and the process starts again.

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