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5 Tips for Drafting Consistent Yarn

Posted: 4th April 2023
Author: Catherine Wright

We're well into our Sheep to Skein course and on Week 2 we went straight into spinning. When you're a complete beginner the aim of the game is to be able to draft the fibres (the part you do with your hands) and treadle (with your feet) at the same time. Thinking at this point is highly over rated, you just need to do. It does not matter what the skein of yarn looks like, once you are able to draft and treadle everything else can be refined.

When you've been spinning for a little while you will see a huge improvement in consistency. In fact we always advise our beginners to hold onto their first skein because the comparison between first and second skein is usually huge. At this point its so exciting to produce our own yarn and celebrate how far we've come on our spinning journey, we do not need to weigh ourselves down with twists per inch and angles of twist. And this yarn with it's slight lumps and bumps can add gorgeous texture to woven or knitted fabric that 'perfect' yarn cannot.

This week on the podcast we're talking about consistent yarn because at some point you will want to create it. I give you my knitted socks. Oh the toe is great, |I'm so happy with the consistent drafting and well timed plying. I was concentrating so much on my yarn at this point, treadling steadily, drafting the same amount of fibre out each time. The plying too is something I'm very happy with. I actually can remember starting out and feeling like it was going well

But the I remember we watched a movie length Italian subtitled murder mystery. There endeth the excellent yarn and as I knitted down my sock the inconsistencies are glaring. Lumps and bumps, little slubs and over plied sections. Now for me, I love to spin while chatting and watching the TV so this is something I'm going to allow myself to live with. I love these socks, they're warm and cosy and who cares, it's me that's going to wear them so I'm happy.

Drafting consistent fibre

What things can we do if we're aiming for gorgeous well drafted and plied yarn? Here are some tips for drafting consistent yarn.

  1. Choice of fibre to start with. On our course we are looking at carded and combed fibre. Combed fibre because of the preparation will always be smoother than a carded batt or rolag. So give yourself a fighting chance and choose the right prep. If you're not preparing it yourself, top will be the best fibre for a smooth draft

2. I strip my fibres thinly so that i have more control when I'm drafting, not super thin though, probably about 2.5 (an inch) in thickness. Drafting from the top - which we will talk about at a later date is something to consider trying but for a quick win this will give you a head start

3. For a consistent yarn, spin a short forward draw. The small drafts will help you keep control and smoothing the fibres down as you slide your pinch over the fibre will also help keep your yarn looking lovely and give you excellent stitch definition.

4. Don't draft too far - take into account the staple length of the breed you're spinning and change your drafting accordingly. If you draft too far you'll notice that there will be a thinner section as the staple ends and this will cause a thick/thin effect in your yarn. So only draft out at the most half of the staple length to avoid this happening

This is a brilliant tip courtesy of Rachel Smith from Welford Purls on You Tube. She places a couple of pieces of tape on her apron around 1.5 inches apart and drafts her fibre to that measurement allowing her to keep consistency. I am definitely going to try this

As always on our courses and workshops we tell everyone (and try and take note ourselves) that we are here to spin for fun. So don't get hung up on perfect this and that, it's the inconsistencies that create the beauty in handspun yarn and we need to celebrate these. But if you want to try something new, or in my case wear better socks, then try these tips and see how you go and because we're always all learning, if you have tips you've found worked for you pleased let us know and we will share it on our podcast. Take a look at the episode here

To see a short tutorial on how to draft consistent yarn, click here

We hope you find these tips for drafting consistent yarn helpful!

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Teaching spinning and weaving workshops and Kromski looms, proudly based in Liverpool, UK
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