So, you’ve decided to try your hand at spinning your own yarn. Deep dive down the rabbit hole with a quick demonstration of hand spinning, other recommended fibers to try, and inspiration for your next skein of hand spun yarn.
Using a leader yarn (optional)
Tie both ends of a small length of yarn together to form a loop. Use a half hitch or double knot to secure one end onto the shaft below the whorl. Then take the other end up over the side of the whorl and wrap it around the hook a couple of times.
Attach the Fiber
Find the end of the fiber and tuck it into the loop of the leader. Fold the end of the fiber back on itself and you’re ready to start spinning. You can also fold the end of the fiber onto the hook of the drop spindle itself, instead of using a leader.
Option 1: Flicking
Holding the folded fiber together with your non-dominant hand, use your dominant hand to flick the shaft of the spindle like you would spin a top. To do this: grasp the spindle between your thumb and middle finger. Push your thumb forward while simultaneously pulling your middle finger backward. Then quickly let go of the shaft and the spindle will begin to spin.
Note: This clockwise spin will give your single a “Z-twist”. If you’d like an “S-twist” you can spin your single counterclockwise instead. It really doesn’t matter too much, just always be sure to spin it in the same direction or else you will unravel your hard work.
Option 2: Rolling
Holding the folded fiber together with your non-dominant hand, use your dominant hand to roll the shaft of the spindle along your thigh. Starting near your knee, roll it down your thigh towards you. Then pick it up and put it back up by your knee to start rolling again. Be sure to always roll it in that same clockwise direction.
Park & Draft
When you have some twist built up you will want to allow the twist to travel further up the fiber. “Park” your spindle by holding it between your thighs. Let your dominant hand take over pinching the fiber in the same place you had it pinched with your non-dominant hand. Untwist the yarn slightly with your dominant hand while using your non-dominant hand to pull on the unspun fiber a few inches up from your pinch point.
The unspun fiber between your two hands should become longer and thinner. If it is not drafting for you, try holding with your non-dominant hand a little farther away from your pinch point. When you have drafted the fiber, let go of the pinch point with your dominant hand to allow the twist to travel up to the location of your non-dominant hand.
Add More Twist
Keeping hold of the fiber with your non-dominant hand, unpark the spindle with your dominant hand and add some more spin using either the flick or the roll method. Repeat the Park & Draft step and then repeat this Add More Twist step. Continue to switch between these two steps until the length of spun yarn becomes so long that you can no longer comfortably draft and spin.
Winding the Yarn
Keeping hold of the fiber with your non-dominant hand, use your dominant hand to hold the shaft of the spindle. Keep some tension between your two hands so that the spun yarn doesn’t begin to twist on itself. Angle the spun yarn down into the notch on the whorl of the drop spindle. Then spin the spindle with your dominant hand to wrap the yarn around the shaft, leaving a few inches out.
Unhook the fiber or leader yarn at the top and wrap that around the spindle too. Use that bit of spun yarn that you left out to tuck into the notch and wrap around the hook. Now you’re ready to get back to twisting and drafting.
If your draft your fiber too much and it pulls apart completely, no worries. Just untwist a little bit of your spun yarn, draft out a little bit more, overlap the two and spin them together.
Practice Practice Practice
As with all new skills, learning drop spindle spinning for beginners takes time and patience. We recommend practicing a little bit each day to build up the muscle memory. You might not be happy with the first skein of yarn you spin, but keep it around anyway. That way, you can see how far you’ve grown when you compare it to your second skein, third skein, and beyond.
When you feel ready, try letting the spindle spin freely and drafting at the same time. This method is faster than the park & draft method and can be much more satisfying too!
Discover More Fiber for Spinning:
Did you know that all of the fiber that Living Dreams carries is suitable for hand spinning? You’ll be like a kid in a candy store when you peruse our online fiber aisles! Click on a link below to check out our selection:
Submit your project to the gallery here!