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Yarn is spun thread that is used for knitting, weaving, or sewing. Yarn is made from fibers that can come from plants or animals. People have been spinning their own yarn since pretty much forever and once you get started, it's extremely easy to do. You really only need a stick and some kind of fiber.

This is a very basic intro to getting started.

I have both a bottom whorl and top whorl spindle, the majority of photos and video in this Instructable are done using a top whorl spindle.



(Side note: getting started spinning your own yarn doesn't have to require a huge investment. Making your own spinning equipment can save you a lot of money and help you better understand how things work.)

Step 1: BoM

Fibers (ready for spinning, I have a variety of roving from my local mom & pop yarn shop and batts from Etsy.)

Drop Spindle

Niddy-Noddy or something similar

Step 2: Some Basic Terminology

Batt- chunk of fiber that been carded.

Cards/carders- pair of brushes used to prep fibers for spinning.

Cop- the yarn that has been spun onto a spindle.

Draft- pulling apart fiber andfeeding it to the spindle. How much fiber you allow to be twisted dictates how thick or how fine your yarn will be.

Drop Spindle- a hand spindle/stick with a weight (whorl), used to twist fibers into thread.

Fiber- unspun hair/fur/plant material.

Leader- a finished length of yarn that is tied onto the spindle and used to start spinning. Frequently used when just learning to spin.

Park- holding the spindle between your knees (or something else),

Plying- spinning 2+ yarns together.

Pre-drafting- the process of pulling our your fiber before you are ready to spin.

Roving- long pieces of wool that has been carded by a carding machine.

S-Twist- yarn spun with a counter clockwise twist.

Setting the twist- The final step for finishing a skein of yarn by soaking it in warm/hot water or steaming.

Skein- a length of spun yarn.

Skeining- the process winding a skein of yarn.

Twist- fibers are twisted to bind them together, also adds strength.

Whorl- weight placed on the spindle, either near the top or near the bottom of the shaft.

Z-Twist- yarn spun with a clockwise twist (like a z)

Step 3: Top or Bottom Whorl

The most obvious difference between spindles is the location of the whorl. The whorl on a top whorl (or high whorl) spindle is located near the top of the spindle's shaft. On a bottom whorl (or low whorl) the whorl is located near the bottom of the shaft. There are other differences, which I'll get into in an upcoming Instructable. Which type of spindle is better is really a matter of personal preference. I have both because I wanted to see if one was easier for me than the other as some people develop a preference later on.

Step 4: Getting Started

A lot of people use a leader yarn to attach fibers to the spindle and get spinning. These seems like an unnecessary additional step to me, so I don't use it.

Take a piece of roving, draft it a bit and then focus on a small piece that will start your yarn. Wrap a small piece around the hook of your spindle and twist. Over twisting this small amount is okay because when you let it go, the twist is going to travel up your fiber.

Pay attention to your spin direction, otherwise your fiber will unravel.

Step 5: Park & Draft

Parking is basically stopping the spindle so that it doesn't move and then feeding more fiber to it. The twist you've already built up will travel up the fiber. When you notice the fiber isn't quite so twisty anymore, it's time to spin again. Pay attention so that the fiber doesn't slip off the end of the hook as it did the in second video. If this does happen, it's not a big deal---you just have to do some respinning.

Step 6: Winding

At some point your yarn is going to get too long for you to continue spinning. When this happens. You want to bring the yarn down below the whorl (if using a top whorl spindle) and wrap it around the shaft a few times. Then you want to bring the yarn back up to the hook and wrap it. After this you can continue spinning again until the length gets too long and this step needs to be repeated.

Step 7: Adding Fiber

Sometimes fiber pulls off or you run out. When this happens, you just need to draft a new piece from a chunk of fiber and kind of mix it with the fiber on the spindle. Twist the pieces together and then continue spinning.

Step 8: Unwinding

Once you've got your fiber spun into yarn it's time to take it off the spindle and onto a Niddy-Noddy (or you can wind the yarn around your arm in a similar fashion). The PVC tool I'm using is not a Niddy-Noddy, but it gets the job done. Also, there's usually end caps to prevent the yarn from sliding off.

Hold the tail of your yarn off to the side of the tube and begin unwinding the spool from the top horizontal tube. Bring the spindle down and wrap around the bottom. Continue doing this until your spindle is unwound and then tie off the ends.

Step 9: Setting the Twist

Boil enough water to fully submerge your yarn. Place the yarn in water and let sit for 10+ minutes. Don't touch it. After the minimum time, remove the yarn from the water and ring it out. Some people use paper towels or snap the yarn like a whip to get extra water out and to fluff up the yarn.

If you've only made a small amount, you can boil water in a tea kettle and then pass the yarn in and out of the steam (using tongs) for several minutes. Steaming is quicker, which means your yarn is usable sooner.

Step 10: Tips

-Use tape to mark your spindle shaft so you know which direction your spindle is spinning in. You can also paint and decorate an unfinished spindle to make it more your own.

-If you're plying (twisting two or more threads together) you want to spin in the opposite direction from how the yarns were originally spun, so that they don't unravel.

-If you need to take a break, i just tie the fiber to itself with a soft knot and then come back to it when I can.

Great photos and explanation!
<p>Thank you!!!</p>
<p>Finally! I've been wondering what in the world I'm supposed to do once I have my fiber all spun up, and now I know how to 'set the spin'. I have a sorry little twisted mess of spun yarn sitting at home waiting for this step to happen, so thank you!</p>
<p>Thank you!!!</p>
<p>I recently learned to spin using a spindle (like, two weeks ago) and I found your instructible really easy to follow with my beginner's understanding. I really appreciated the explanation of the z-twist and the s-twist. I hadn't come across whey they were called that so nice to finally know what those names refer to, and which directions yo do them in.</p><p>The woman who taught me to use my spindle just wraps the unused portion of fibre around the hook when she needs to take a break and I do the same and find it holds nicely so you don't need to tie a knot in the fibre at all.</p>
<p>I am so glad to hear this!</p>

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Bio: I am a teacher outside of Boston and I love making cool stuff! Any prizes I'm lucky enough to win will go directly to ... More »
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