How much fiber do I draft out for thinner yarn?

It takes some time to figure out how thin to draft (how much to feed) to get a given thickness of yarn. Take a mental picture of how much you are drafting (or heck, save a real sample if that helps) and compare that to the thickness of the yarn. Yarn too thick? Draft it out thinner. Take a new mental picture/sample and repeat, until yarn is the thickness you want.

On the reverse -- if the yarn is too thin, you need to look at how thin your drafting triangle is, and draft thicker, get more fiber in the drafting triangle so the resulting yarn is thicker.

You control how much is in the drafting triangle by how thinly you pull it out. You can have very little fiber there for a very fine yarn, or a whole bunch for a thick yarn. I usually start people out with a "pinky-thick" guideline for their first spinnings, which is a chunky yarn, and then have them draft thinner from there once they get the hang of it.

If you're having trouble pulling the yarn out -- move your hands further apart. The best advice I got when I started to spin was to check the staple length (length of individual fibers) of what I was spinning and to keep my hands 1.5 * the staple length apart (staple-length-and-a-half apart). Then the fibers slide easily in the drafting triangle -- well, once you keep all the twist out of it, too. That was key advice #2, LOL.

(posted by me this day on spindlers)


Elysbeth said...

How much twist do you put in for thin, thinner, thinnest? I am drafting fine, but it drifts apart if I get a break. Yikes! Any tips?

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

When spinning thin, thinner, thinnest one thing to remember is that twist will build up the fastest at the thinnest spots -- making them more likely to break than the rest of it. (Do you mean "drift apart" or "break"?)

If it's drifting because you've drafted it out too far before letting twist in, try keeping your hands a bit closer together, or try running the fingers of your hand that's in front up toward the drafting triangle slowly so the twist travels up the thinnest parts gradually, rather than trying to have them take up the twist all at once.

Joins at really thin spots are a pain, because it's very hard to get the fibers (so strongly twisted before they broke) to unwind back down to individual fibers and be fanned out to permit a good join.

That said, when I'm spinning finely, I do a "ply back" test where I let an inch ply back on itself. I don't want to see any "air" at the bottom of this plied-back section -- the bottom-most loop should be closed, not an "O". Then I know it has enough twist to hang together.

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

Mandalinn posted about having trouble spinning thinner. My feedback to her was to make sure the roving really wants to draft easily, and that the take up on your wheel is controllable. Mabel Ross had a great shot in her video showing her pulling the yarn off the bobbin while treadling, but the yarn also winding on -- at the same tension setting. So I aim for that for minimal take-up.