Spinning – Cheating With Top


There are alot of things that you are thinking about when you are spinning.

You are thinking about your hands as they are both drafting and feeding the fiber into the wheel.  You are thinking about how much twist you want to go into the fibers, how many fibers you want that twist going into, how to keep the number of fibers you are spinning consistent while you are drafting, how often you are feeding the twisted fibers onto the bobbin – lots of stuff.

Drafting – which is pulling the fibers out of your roving into smaller amounts that you will then twist into your single ply yarn – takes alot of concentration for me because the movement needs to be done quickly enough that you are able to keep the rhythm of your wheel going and that the thickness of the fibers being twisted are consistent so that the yarn you are producing has a consistent thickness.  For a beginner, this can be a little tough to master.

So, sometimes I cheat.

I use those expensive already processed and beautifully dyed bags of roving/top that I bought at Rhinebeck last year and just spin.

This is BlueFaced Leicester Roving/Top that I purchased from Fiber Optics Yarn in its Brownberry colorway.

The first thing I do when I get one of these lovely braids of fiber is I separate the braid into two halves lengthwise by just pulling it apart at the top and carrying that pull all the way down.  This way you hopefully will have about an equal amount of single ply on each bobbin when you start plying.  Here is about half of the fiber after I had separated it.

Top is formed by carding the wool and then combing it with these long metal toothed combs so that all of the fibers line up in one direction.

There are almost natural separations in the braid that you can see and follow in pulling apart your fiber strips.  Here you can still see some of the crimp of the original fiber in the roving.

As a beginner, you will often “pre-draft” your fiber, separating and pulling the fibers out of your larger ball of roving to form strands of thinner fiber amounts which you then spin.

With Top, your fiber will just separate into these thinner strands

 and you just keep separating each strand into thinner and thinner strands, following the natural breaks in the strands that you saw above.

Then, after pulling the top into as many fine strands as you feel comfortable working with, you just sit down at your wheel and start to spin.

You can see that you are working with a thin piece of roving that is now very easy to draft and feed as you go along.

Working with such a thin roving to begin with makes it easy to spin a thin yarn.

And made it very easy and quick to spin these.

Okay, so I did not exactly split the roving down the middle as was my intent.  I think the fact that I spun the larger bobbin while chatting with the ladies at Countrywool probably had some effect on my continuing to spin when I probably should have stopped.  It was just such a pleasant Saturday afternoon.

While my consistency still is not good, I was able to keep most of my yarn in the ballpark of the thickness that I wanted, which at this point I attribute to the ease of working with the top.

I’ll fix it with the plying.  😉

Next weekend I have a class to teach me all about my spinning wheel – how to make adjustments to be able to do other things with it.  Hopefully I will learn enough to have more to show you next week.  This is all really pretty cool!!

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About Shelly R.

I am a Mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife, an attorney, a crafter and the granddaughter of an amazing woman - my Polish Grandmother. My Grandmother gave me so much, through her love and her patience, her sayings and her time teaching me how to craft and to give to others, that it seemed fitting to share some of that wisdom, to tell some of her story, and to chat about life and crafts in a way that would be a testament to what she gave me.
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3 Responses to Spinning – Cheating With Top

  1. Great photos…and I’ve already drooled over those colors. What a gorgeous combination! Keeping track of all those things AND still moving my hands is still a challenge, but I’m trying to focus on progress, not perfection. Hoping Saturday’s class doesn’t make my head explode…

    • Shelly R. says:

      I am never able to apply everything we learn in a class right away. I have to just kind of put it in the back of my head until I have time to think it through and then decide how to apply it later. Since I still can’t produce a consistent thickness of wool I am still just spending my time learning that. I have been trying to understand the application of the concept of crimps per inch to determine how much twist to put into the yarn.

  2. Barbara Antonelli says:

    The colors are absolutely beautiful! So much work, but fun too, or you wouldn’t be doing it…

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