Picture of spinning yarn
Yarn has been spun on spindles for thousands of years. With a little fiber and a spindle, you too can participate in this oldest of alchemies. This instructable will show you how to spin a single from wool roving, using a top-whorl spindle.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Materials

Picture of materials

Just about anything that is vaguely fiberlike can be spun. The most common fibers used for handspinning are sheep's wool, cotton, silk, alpaca, mohair (from angora goats), and angora (from angora rabbits). In my opinion, the easiest to learn to spin is sheep's wool, although the principles are the same for spinning any fiber.

You'll want to work with prepared sheep's wool, known as roving, which has been washed to remove excess lanolin (grease) and carded or combed to orient all the individual fibers in the same direction. You can find roving at your friendly local yarn store, or from several online retailers. I like to peruse for handpainted roving, myself. Try to avoid "top" for now, which is wool that has been combed to leave only the longest fibers, which makes things more difficult for the beginner, although it is delightful to spin with a little practice under your belt!

The wool pictured in this instructable is a Romney and Merino blend (these are breeds of sheep.)


At it's simplest, a spindle is really just a stick with a weight on it somewhere (aka a whorl.) Drop spindles come in two main flavors: top whorl, and bottom whorl, cleverly named for the location of the whorl on the spindle. Spindles also come in many different weights, but I recommend starting with a spindle that is around 2-3 ounces.

The spindle pictured is a top whorl 1.5 oz spindle, although you could also use a bottom whorl, or even the spindle that stores your CDRs. Here is an instructable that will show you how to make a spindle from a CDs, a dowel, and a hook: You can also find spindles from online retailers or at your local yarn store.

1-40 of 44Next »
Midnight Star8 months ago
Thank you so much for this. It's really easy to understand. Hopefully I'll be able to get a drop spindle soon and be able to follow along.
bonnaw1 year ago
wonderful description!
Could you do me a favor? I'm asking if I could try this with unraveled embroidery floss with some added wool roving floss? PS could you make an instructable on how to make a spindle?
I made a drop spindle out of a dowel hot glued through an old CD with an eyelet hook screwed into one end. It's not perfectly balanced, but it does a great job. And you can add bits of embroidery floss or even scraps of fabric as long as you have a bit of roving to go with ends up looking like this (the shiny bits are embroidery floss) :

Hope this helps!
tincanz3 years ago
I've now completed several hanks of dog yarn, without carding or other fiber preparation. I am thinking about purchasing a pair of carders, but I am unsure whether they will give a benefit worth their price. Are they really necessary for spinning? If so, what is the difference in function between 5x5 cm carders and 10x20 cm carders? I don't want to buy carders, only to discover that the yarn in not altered.
orksecurity3 years ago
BTW, a friend tells me that dog grooming brushes make decent carding combs for small quantities.
orksecurity3 years ago
For what it's worth, I have successfully spun a 2' length of fairly strong four-ply string/yarn from the fur of my short-haired cats, on my first semi-uninformed attempt. The key for short fur seemed to be to keep it twisted tightly.

I didn't card or pre-draft, so the initial thread was rather lumpy. But it worked...

My plying technique was the primitive "twist hard, fold in half, and let the twist work against itself" approach, which obviously wouldn't work for longer lengths -- but it was adequate as a proof of concept, and it did demonstrate that plying helps to reinforce the yarn. I suppose I ought to learn the proper technique for this, so I don't have to think about knotting short lengths together.

"If it happens, it must be possible."
_bradylee3 years ago
I'm thinking about using chinchilla fur (my chinchilla sheds all year round). Would that be too short to spin? I think it would make a soft yarn
tincanz3 years ago
awesome instructable. I just tried this with uncarded dog fur and it has all kinds of bumps that shed easily. Is it normal for my spindle to only spin for about 1.5 seconds? That could be attributable to the uncarded fur wanting to untwist, or maybe the weight (a slice of a log) is slightly lopsided.

What about a carder/ carding instructable next?
krimille5 years ago
Thanks, that was very well explained!  If I get good I'll have to try spinning some of this collie undercoat we have all over the place.  I have to ask - where did you take the pictures?  That spot with the twisty branches was really interesting looking.
Yeah! My Collie housemate's fur sure is abundant. I'll have to try this, except she is a smooth variety, so she has only about 1.5 inch long fur, so I don't know if it will work.
Mirime krimille5 years ago
Carefull with the collie fuzz it will be too warm by itself  mix it with some wool  or  alpaca.
Nice poodle. : ]] And even better explaination of a pretty cool old school hobbie. Thanks for sharing.
tfaulk265 years ago
Nice instructable.
I would like to try and produce some yarn from my dog grooming clippings, which I imagine would not be easy. Any thoughts?
Wash the dog before taking off the fiber Then if you have a tiny bit, you can blend it by combing or carding into wool or another fiber Dog fiber is slippery, esp the hair that is underneath the belly. It depends on the breed. So you take your Hand Cards and first pull a bit of wool through one card. Then pull through a bit of the dog hair. Depending on the amount, You could do 25% dog hair to 75% wool ( to blend the fiber I use 2 ergonomic pet combs.... the ones that have the flexible thin wire bent like an upside down L at an angle) After carding roll up your fiber, then PREDRAFT IT. See my video on predrafting at under the channel of FIBER JOYS...

I made the video. When you have predrafted, just get a spindle and spin! Remember if you use dog hair, It MUST be clean! If you use dirty hair it will come out terrible.

And if you wear your item in the rain, you may smell like a wet dog. 
To store whatever you make place lavendar sachets around it to keep moths away.
Visit my channel KNIT HELP to learn to knit. Visit my Crochet is timeless to learn how to crochet. You need about 60 percent more yarn to crochet than you do to  knit.

smiles, grace,


with a link to my large channell on you tube called  "
fiber joys "  !!

I am on  


alicious (author)  tfaulk265 years ago
Ah yes. In fact, I have spun a hefty amount of yarn from the poodle you see in some of these pictures. If you want to spin dog hair, I recommend you invest in a set of hand carders and learn to use them (maybe I'll make an instructable about it eventually.)

Hair collected from brushing (as opposed to cutting) will tend to make a softer yarn, because it lacks the cut ends of grooming clippings, but depending on what breed of dog you have, it may not matter either way. I haven't found it necessary to wash the hair before spinning myself, but if your dog is especially dirty, or you'd just rather work with cleaner fiber, there is an instructable for prepping dog hair for spinning:

Best of luck!
Are there any other animals that you think may produce a good usable yarn. I have access to zoo animals. The only one I can't get is gorilla. The lion will start shedding his thick main soon.
That would be awesome! Lion-mane yarn? I would totally brag about a scarf made with that! Makes me want to work at a zoo!
From what i have heard, some dog hair is better than others.  I beleive the Commondor is supposed to be the best one for spinning. 

Incidentally, I was thinking of making a spinner using a hole saw plug and a dowel.  It should work, from the looks of the the spinner in the picture.
A fiber-artist friend of mine tends to make spindles at - you should forgive the expression - the drop of a, well, spindle, out of whatever happens to be lying around.  Once, while on a camping trip, she spun on a pencil stuck into a potato.  Then again, she bought a farm in northern Arizona so she could "grow her own" wool, dyes things using whatever happens to be growing - or blooming - in her garden, and weaves using medieval techniques.  Creativity is, I believe, an application of that old saw about necessity being the mother of invention.
You mentioned home made dyes.  Let me suggest a book:  "Mushrooms for color" by Miriam Rice.  There are also green plants such as Woad and Indigo from which dyes can be made.
Yes, and don't we all know about using red beets, tea, onion skins, and other very common sources - especially inadvertently - for permanently coloring fabrics?!?  Not that I've made a study of the subject, you understand . . .
Turmeric will get you a good yellow.  Also some Amanita varieties, according to Rice.
Where I said "spinner" I should have said "spindle" but I think you'll understand.
grooooovy4 years ago
Check out the summer yarns contest today, and vote for your favorite!
That was so cool! I think it's time to expand my yarn crafting skills. :) Thanks for the great tutorial.
Great instructable! I really want to spin and cannot afford a wheel...or a class... Thanks So Much!!! and yes, great photos
Adalei5 years ago
 This would've been handy to have when I started spinning plastic yarn :D Now if only I could figure out how to build a spinning wheel...
I am working on a spinning weel right now.  Maybe i will post plans and pics as a first ible.
Dudeyowuzup4 years ago
Thanks so much for this instructable! It was very well-written! You explained things in simple easy steps and introduced terms without sounding insulting. I will definitely be looking forward to reading more instructables from you!
rimar20004 years ago
Very interesting and well done.

I always admired (and envied a bit) to women who are developing the ability to knit, embroider and stuff so useful. It must be very gratifying to say "I did it, from a handful of wool"
Mirime5 years ago
they also come with the whorl in the middle ie Navaho
billhorvath5 years ago
Nice!  My wife's tried to explain this to me several times (I knit, she spins), but I missed the part about the drafting triangle, which clarifies things immensely.  Thanks!
b1russell5 years ago
Thanks for the detailed, well-explained how-to.  I really, really like the fact that you use terminology that is explained herein!
desya5 years ago
 I have a maltess  (white dog) how about her hair....
russm313 desya5 years ago
I have heard of people using their pets's hair to spin yarn.  I have a maltese as well and I can definitely see how it would work.
Yup.  Saw (on a pet channel on TV) a cat groomer who spins the clippings from her clients, then knits (or crochets or weaves, or whatever) keepsake items for the owner of the clipped critter.  It showed long-hair cats, but I'm going to assume long-haired dogs' contributions work the same way.  Let us know!  I'm saving the shed undercoat from my sister's aging German Shepherd (they shed gobs, year-round) so I can make a keepsake for presentation after the beast goes to the Great Dog Park in the Sky.
You should try spinning from raw wool without washing and carding(or rovings). The lanolin helps the wool spin better and helps it stick without as much slipping as rovings have (lanolin is also good for the skin, have a look at the ingredients to natural skin creams and you will likely find lanolin there). It is best done when the lanolin/wool is warm. You wash the lanolin and dirt out at the end when you wash the single. The wool as a fleece is already all facing in the right direction, when you wash it you end up messing this up so carding becomes more important.

The Peruvian women spin while walking around and they don't prepare or wash the wool. My wife also spins unprepared sheep and alpaca wool on a spinning wheel (ie. the raw fleece, she much prefers raw wool over rovings stating that it feels dead. She makes jumpers etc from our alpacas wool). You just pull the bigger bits of grass and and bugs out as you go (a lot less work than washing and carding before spinning). She does prepare the wool however if she is dying and mixing colours using the drum carder.

Overall good introduction to using the drop spindle, I do think it is worthwhile however to try raw sheep fleece if you can get hold of it (alpaca and I suspect dog hair is harder because it does not have the lanolin).
talltale5 years ago
Gorgeous tutorial, and lovely yarn! Just what I need, another yarn related hobby!

I am particularly impressed with the photos.  They really made the process clear for me.  Thanks!
1-40 of 44Next »