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Hand Spinning

Hand Spinning

Here at Spinning Ginny's I buy commerically dyed and carded roving to spin into the handspun yarn I sell.  This carded wool has most of the fibres arranged in one direction, which makes it easy to spin.  I usually buy it by the pound in various different colors of Merino, Alpaca, Llama, Angora, Merino blends with Silk, Tencel & Mohair.

Before I start spinning though, I cut some yarn about 24 inches long and tie it to my bobbin shaft firmly with a couple of turn so that it will not slip.  Then I take the other end of the leader over the nearest hook on my flyer and thread it through the hole in the shaft and out through the orriface, using a threading hook.  Then I hold onto the leader and treadle, letting the leader run lightly through my fingers to check to see if I have the drive band to tight or too loose.  If the drive band is too tight the leader will dissappear through the orifice at a great speed.  Then I will loosen the brake slightly, allowing the nylon cord to slacken a bit.  If the leader does not pull in at all but curls and twists in front of the orifce.  Then I will tighten the brake by turning the knob.  If by chance the leader proceeds gently through the orifice, then I have the brake band tension perfectly adjusted to allow the wool to wind on the bobbin.  Setting my tension is the most important thing before I start spinning.

After I get my tension all set to start spinning, I then wind my leader onto the bobbin until about 12 inches is hanging from the orifice.  Since I use carded roving, I pull off a small section roughly about 12 inches long and tease it to make it easier to spin into a fingering weight yarn.  This isn't really necessary to do with carded roving but I like to spin my yarn very fine.  Then I hold the roving in the palm of my left hand, with the thumb and fore-finger grasping the pulled-portion of the wool and the end of the leader.  These two ends will be overlapping and pinched together.

Then I started the wheel in a clockwise direction, and keep pinching these two ends together until the twist reaches the area where I am joining them together.  I continue to pinch for a few more turns of the drive wheel to make a firm joining.  While this is joining, I take my right hand back to the loose fibers and draft them towards my body.  The pinching of my left fingers give me a firm base to draft from.  Then I release my pinch fingers and let the twist run into the drafted fibres and at the same time, bring the right hand up, allowing the newly drafted and twisted fibres to run onto the bobbin.  Then I pinch the fibre again with my left hand and repeat the drafting-back movement with my right hand.  Then I release the pinch and bring both hands close together again.  I call this my pinching and pulling method.

As my bobbin starts to fill in one area, I move the yarn down to a new hook and start spinning again.  I continue moving my newly handspun yarn up and down the bobbin like you would wind a bobbin on a sewing machine, until it is filled.  Then I remove the full bobbin and replace it with an empty one and fill that one up. 

After filling up two bobbins I then place them on my Lazy Kate, with the bigger ends on the same side.  This helps to prevent the yarn from tangling was it winds from the bobbins.  Then I put the Lazy Kate on the floor behind my right elbow.  Then I put a new bobbin on in place of the two full ones and attach a leader to it.  Once the new leader is in place I take the two loose ends in my left hand overlapping them about 3 inch with the leader.

I then begin treadling in a counter-clockwise position and pinch the leader and the two newly spun strands with the thumb and forefinger of the left hand until the twist together.  The right hand rests on my hip, remaining stationary for the entire plying process.  I hold the two strands tautly, but separated by my finges.  I release the pinch, and let the twist run back, supporting and accompanying the twist with the left hand, until the twist meets the back hand.  The yarn will then ply together just in front of the left hand.  I then pinch again with the left hand and then propel the plied yarn int the orifice.  Doing this gives me an even plying. 

After I have filled the bobbin with newly spun yarn I then loosen the brake tension and stand over my will taking the loose end of the arn and holding it against the upright of my niddy noddy with one hand.  I then take the yarn in the other hand and wind it around the niddy noddy.  When all my yarn is on the niddy noddy, I tie the new skein loosely in four different places and slide it off the niddy noddy.  I now have a new skein of freshly hand spun yarn.