One of my favorite parts of vending at the Spanish Peacock booth at fiber shows is meeting people who have been newly bitten by the spinning bug. The excitement and enthusiasm in their eyes and their voice as they pick a drop spindle and dream of the yarn they are going to create.
At a recent show, I helped a lovely young lady select her first drop spindle, a red beauty with heart shapes cut out of the whorl. She had taken an “intro to spinning class” that same day, and she was so excited to practice what she’d learned.
She asked if I would start the spindle for her, and I was happy to oblige. The only thing is, the fiber she proffered was practically felted together in its compact braid.
I didn’t check what type of wool it was (though it was obviously wool), but it had a lot of crimp and the strands tangled crazily around each other. Even with concerted effort, I struggled to tease out enough fiber to actually start spinning.
I explained to her the importance of predrafting, and I’m repeating this information now for any new spinners who happen to across this blog.
If you cannot draft your fiber smoothly, you will be frustrated beyond belief with spinning because you won’t be able to draft the fibers fast enough for the spindle’s momentum to allow the twist to transform the fiber into your singles. The spindle will start spinning backwards, and instead of yarn you will have a lumpy mess.
Ask me how I know! I struggled with this myself, literally for years. I HATED spinning, but felt (haha) like I had to persevere. I mean, I am married to a spindle maker after all. Luckily I finally realized it wasn’t me – it was the fiber.
Pull out of a tuft of your roving. If it doesn’t come out easily with a firm tug, you need to predraft your fiber before trying to spin. Loosen up the braid, separate the strands, maybe split the braid into lengthwise strips. There are tutorials and videos if you need more information on this step. I know it takes extra time, but otherwise you will face an uphill battle learning to spin.