What do you teach in Learning to Spin?

Learning to Spin is a "wheel spinning" class -- I purposely don't touch spindles, because so many people think spindles are those terrible things you're forced to use before the teacher lets you touch your wheels. I'd rather entice people with spindles' portability, after they learn on their wheel (grin!)

Taught: several times in 2007 and 2008 at my LYS (A Dropped Stitch).
Teaching again: Feb/Mar 2008 at A Dropped Stitch.

Session 1: Spin!

In which we learn about fiber, wheels, and spinning singles.

Supplies: 2 oz. medium wool, wheels if needed, Spin-Off handouts.

Wheel by Betty RobertsTopics:
  • fiber choice
  • staple length
  • pre-drafting
  • sample rolled on leg and folded
  • splitting
  • oil wheel
  • get bobbin on wheel
  • treadling
  • attaching a leader
  • draw-in adjustment
  • attach pre-drafted fiber to leader
  • hand placement
  • and go! (spin singles)
  • joins
  • thick/thin
  • removing thick spots
  • hand placement (check)
  • sampling for 2-ply
Homework: practice singles, spin the remainder of the 2 oz. (leave on bobbin)

Session 2: Real Yarn!

In which we learn about nostepinnes, plying, niddy-noddies and finishing skeins.

Supplies: 2 oz fiber, singles from Session 1, WPI chart, wheels


  • center pull ball - nostepinne, ball-winder
  • tensioning a lazy kate
  • stale singles
  • balanced 2-ply
  • skein - niddy-noddy
  • setting the twist
  • back to singles -- drafting, amount of twist
  • WPI chart

Homework: spin remaining fiber and ply; finish skeins

Session 3: Sheepness!

In which we round out our knowledge from sheep-to-yarn: raw fleece, washed fleece, carding, combing.

Supplies: sample of raw fleece, washed fleece, commercial top, commercial roving/sliver, batt, drum carder, hand cards, dog slickers, hand combs/diz, wheels


  • raw fleece sniff test (just joking)
  • hand carding rolags
  • spin rolags
  • hand comb and diz top
  • spin top
  • hand card worlags
  • spin worlags
  • card a batt
  • spin batt
  • if time permits
    • navajo plying
    • worsted/woolen
Homework: spin, go to a fiber show, explore!

I've taught this class at my Local Yarn Shop -- it's great fun! In "private session" with new spinners we tend to tailor things as we go, without a formal curriculum. But this still works are a great checklist for me, to make sure I've covered everything.

Lee Raven's "Hands on Spinning" or Anne Field's "The Ashford Book of Spinning" are both great books for learning to spin. A mentor, videos, or a class are a great way to round out learning to spin on a wheel.

The Yahoo groups spinning_camp and Spin-List are helpful places to get your questions answered when learning to spin on a wheel, as is the LiveJournal forum SpinningFiber.

See What do you teach in Beginning Spindling? for information on learning to spindle-spin.

Do you teach wheel spinning? Or have you recently learned? What advice would you offer? Post it in the comments here or contact me. Thanks!


Hockey Mom said...

Amelia: this is great! I've informally taught a few people to spin, word got around and I'm going to be teaching beginning spinning at my LYS. You've laid it out in a nice format. When you say Spin-Off handouts, which ones do you use?

I have loved reading this blog and gleaning all you have to share.

Sandy at kadrie dot com

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

The handouts are Spin-off's spinning brochures, Introduction to Spinning and Lo-Tech, High Satisfaction. These are great to have on hand when doing demos, too, to hand out to those interested in the process.