Six tips for beginner spinners

Good news! You can start this craft with a very small investment. All you need is a spindle and some fibre. Those two items are your gateway to discovering a new hobby.

Spinning yarn lets you create the fibre you want from alpaca to yak and everything in between. It also lets you experiment with colour to get a one-of-a-kind result.

1. Spindle

Your first spindle doesn’t have to be fancy. Spindles are made in a variety of styles, weights and materials. Lighter spindles are for very short or delicate fibres such as cashmere, cotton and silk when spinning it very fine. Medium weight spindles are good for medium length staples (the length of the fibre), and heavier spindles are good for long staple length fibres, for making thick yarn and for plying.

Spindle types

For your first spindle, I would recommend a spindle made of wood with a top whirl. Additional specs to consider are:

Diameter: approximately 80 mm (3 1/8 inches)
Weight: approximately 40 – 60 g (1.5 – 2.25 ounces)
Shaft Length: approximately 23.5 cm (9 ¼ inches)

You can get a spinning starter kit here.

 2. Fibre Selection

Fibre Staple Lengths

Corriedale, cheviot, blue faced Leicester each is a good fibre choice with which to start spinning.

If you don’t want to spin wool, then I would recommend ramie. However, this fibre can be a bit slippery so you may want to spray a fine mist of water on it for better control.

 

3. Fibre Texture

Whether you’re spinning wool or a plant-based fibre, you need to know that each will draft better in one direction versus another. If you have a roving (long tube of fibre), break off a section and then pull gently from either end of this shorter section of roving; you’ll notice that the fibre at one end glides and the other resists. Spin from the end that glides.

4. Hand Position

You’ll want to practice a bit to discover what feels most comfortable. It may be that the process is easier if you hold the fibre in your left hand and draft and flick the spindle with your right, or vice versa.

For example, when I use a spindle, I hold the fibres in my left hand and draft and flick with my right. However, when I’m at my spinning wheel, I hold the fibres in my right hand and draft with my left.

Find which works best for you.

5. Spin Direction

Be sure to always spin in the same direction; clockwise or counterclockwise. If you start in one direction and then change to the opposite direction, you’ll be removing the twist from your yarn. I guarantee the yarn will break and the spindle will fall. Let’s avoid this as much as possible.

6. Park and Draft Method

The simplest method with which to learn how to spin that provides the most control is the park and draft method. You’ll need to know how long your staple length is in order to know how far back you can draft the fibre before it comes apart.

You can see a tutorial on the park and draft method in the video below.

This is my list of beginner tips. If you have others to add, please let me know in the comment section below.

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to share it.

All the best,

Lorraine

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