Susie Benitez; ACRE Student: From Fleece toYarn


The final step in creating yarn is spinning. Spinning is the process of taking roving and drawing or pulling out fibers and spinning them together. The ultimate goal is to create a yarn that is even thickness and has a consistent amount of twist. There are two types of hand spinning: spinning with a spinning wheel and spinning with a drop spindle. Professor Trimpey and I decided to focus on drop spindling for our ACRE. A drop spindle looks like a long, skinny dowel rod with a hook on one end and a point on the other. The rod also goes through a flat wooden disc that rests close to the side of the rod with the point on it. Using a drop spindle is a bit easier than using a spinning wheel and it is better for beginners. With a wheel, you need to peddle, draw out the fibers, and make sure that the fibers are being fed into the spinning wheel at a consistent rate and thickness. With a drop spindle, you can take the time to focus on and master the drawing out and twisting of the fibers without the added steps of using a wheel.

            Professor Trimpey and I found a variety of techniques of how to use a drop spindle. Linda showed us one technique of pulling the fibers to draw them out while having the spindle spin below either in the air or resting in a small bowl. We found videos of a similar technique online. The method that we ended up using is a bit different. We started with a leader thread (a piece of yarn or twine that you twist fibers onto to start spinning) tied onto the spindle. Then, we notched the thread by wrapping it around the hook. While holding the thread tightly a few inches above where it had been notched, we held the other end of the spindle and began to twist it. It is important to always twist or turn the spindle in the same direction so that the yarn doesn’t unravel. After turning the spindle for a bit, we held the yarn where we held it before in one hand and began drawing fibers out with the other. As we drew the fibers, we loosened our hold on the yarn allowing the fibers to twist.

            I don’t find spinning to be easy, but I have noticed that it gets easier with practice. I still have trouble drawing the fibers out so that I make yarn with an even thickness. It is fun to compare a piece of yarn that I have just spun to the yarn that I started out spinning, which has for the most part untwisted itself and looks like a series of cocoons spun together. Even though my yarn does not look like I bought it at Joann Fabrics, I am improving every day and any lumps or uneven parts are what make my yarn special and unique.


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