A Lesson in Spinning Wool Into Yarn

So many folks that have never really thought about the wool being spun into yarn ask me, “Exactly how is that done?” So I’m going to do my best here to try to walk you through it with pictures and brief explanations.  Here we go, spinning 101.

You can see in the previous  post how the sheep is sheared and the wool is skirted by hand (cleaned) getting it ready for the really big cleaning at the mill. Off to the mill it goes to be washed and put into what is called roving. Roving means all the wool is clean and carded (almost like combing it) making it all go in one direction for ease of spinning. So when it comes back from the mill we have a big bag of roving from each animal.

The next step is to start spinning it through the spinning wheel.

As you can see we treadle (peddle) the wheel to make the wheel turn. 

A cotton string is attached around the wheel and up over the bobbin (where the wool is stored while spinning).

There is a knob on the wheel that adjust the tension of the string, so a little tension causes the wool to be pulled through the orifice out of the spinners hands and onto the bobbin. While the spinner spins they must draft (pull) a little of the fiber out which is the part that will be spun into the yarn at that moment. The amount drafted, thickness or very fine is what determines the kind of yarn spun, either lace weight, bulky ect.

So we treadle and draft, treadle and draft filling the bobbin.

When the bobbin is full it is taken off the bobbin and wound onto what is called a niddy noddy which puts it into skein form. 

The next step is to wash and set the twist in the newly spun yarn. I use an organic lavender essential oil  with a gentle soap to  let it soak. This soaking sets the twist up nicely and gives the yarn its final cleaning. The lavender treats the wool so that it is moth proof!

Then the yarn is hung to dry with a weight that also helps set the twist in the yarn. The yarn may take a couple of days to dry depending on the weather.

When it’s dry it’s twisted back into a skein and is ready to knit with.  

I hope this gives some kind of idea of what the process of spinning wool into yarn is. A number of different spinning wheels are on the market, all doing the same job. The height or how smooth they spin or treadle may vary, so its important to try a wheel before purchasing. Or work with someone that can give you some idea of how a number of wheels work.

So, you’re now ready to spin! You have completed Dream Come True Farms Spinning 101.       

Published on May 18, 2011

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