Tag Archive: beginner

Dyeing Wool

Beginner’s Series: Wool – Part 5

Wool is one of the easiest fibers to dye. It responds readily to Kool-Aid, commercial dyes, natural (plant- or animal-derived) dyes, and even food coloring.

There are dozens of different ways to color wool, and, as I’ve only tried a few of them, I can’t give you detailed tutorials for everything, but here are some of the ones that have helped me along and given me some really great results. I use Jacquard Acid Dyes for most of my dyeing, with the odd natural dye thrown in. The Jacquards are really nice because the only chemical you need to set the color is vinegar!


If you’re a knitter you have probably heard the term “kettle-dyed” before. It pretty much means that the yarn will be mostly the same color, with a slight shift in intensity in some areas. This is achieved by cooking the yarn (or wool roving) in a pot of dye solution. The actual process will vary depending on what kind of dye you use.


My, this last week has flown by. I blogged daily, and there are still some things we didn’t get to! Wonderful things like preparing your own fiber and dyeing your own yarn.

I hope The Beginner Series proved helpful and encouraging. Remember, those posts are nothing but a brief overview. They leave plenty of room for you to learn new things and discover on your own. There’s a whole world of spinners and spinning out there. Techniques waiting to be taught, friendships to be shared, and new fibers to try. It’s waiting for you.

With the blessing of a seriously addicted spinner, go, spin, and learn.


Drafting, Plying, and a Balanced Yarn

Beginner’s Info: Part 7

There are two different things meant by “drafting.”

“Pre-drafting” is loosening up the fibers before you spin so you’ll get a nice, airy, easy-to-work-with yarn. Here is a good video on fluffing up the fibers in a roving.

Regular “drafting” refers to how you handle the fibers that are being spun.

Drafting While Spinning

Here is a great text/image rundown on the main types of drafting while spinning. There are also videos down the side, but it’s kind of hard to see what she’s doing.

I also found these videos for long draw and short draw on wheel. Short draw is easier, in my opinion, although I love long draw. The short draw video doesn’t have any audio besides the background music, so you can mute it if you wish. The text gives a pretty good explanation, but I want to give another here.

What Am I Looking At?

Beginner’s Info: Part 5

So, you’ve decided to get a spinning wheel, you lucky you. Spinning wheels are the sports cars of the fiber world. There’s just this aura around them. A feeling of mystery which can be very thrilling, but when it comes to picking out a wheel it can get in the way.

I’m going to try to sweep away some of the fog and reveal the spinning wheel in all its grandeur.

Parts Of A Spinning Wheel

First off, what are the different parts of a spinning wheel? Here is an excellent picture with handy little arrows. (If you’re wondering, it’s on quite a nice website. Feel free to explore.) Now, the business end is the “head,” which refers to the bobbin, flyer, orifice, and bobbin whorl. That’s where the yarn is actually made. When I first started researching spinning I had a vague idea that the fiber had to go around the big wheel – wrong. The big wheel is the power engine for the head. And your foot is the power engine for the big wheel, which brings us to the first option to be considered.

Choosing a Drop Spindle

Beginner’s Info: Part 4

To my mind, a drop spindle is the cheapest, easiest, and most versatile way of getting into spinning. There is something so cool about being able to make yarn with a piece of carved wood that hovers in midair. But, although I love them to pieces, drop spindles aren’t for everyone. They require the ability to raise your arms until your hands are on a level with your head and hold them out there for longish lengths of time. Sound too strenuous? I’ll cover wheel types in the next post.

But, for those of you who don’t mind a little productive exercise, a drop spindle provides the perfect opportunity to learn how to handle fiber and twist without worrying about bobbin tension, wheel treadling, and the price tag. (Did I mention I love drop spindles?)

Yarn: The Creation

Beginner’s Info: Part 3

This is the drop spindle version of spinning tutorials. The wheel version will be coming soon.

Time To Begin

Alright, you’ve got your spindle, some sort of wool, and a whole lot of excitement. Now you need a piece of pre-made yarn (commercial will do) about two to two-and-a-half feet long. Plain yarn is best. Don’t go for the fancy boucle or eyelash. Just some scrap yarn you have laying around. Alright, got it in your hand? This is your “leader” yarn. It is what makes it possible to easily begin the act of spinning. It’s what you’ll be attaching your fiber to and dangling your spindle from. In short, it’s your friend.

If you happen to be feeling ultra crafty and coordinated today, (or if you simply can’t wait long enough to go find yarn) the first tutorial below shows how to begin without a leader yarn.

So You Want To Spin?

Beginner’s Info: Part 1

So you want to learn to spin? Good for you. You’re about to be initiated into the wonderful craft of spinning. Or, to turn it into its most basic process, the art of taking a handful of something and making into gorgeous yarns.

If you’re interested in spinning, chances are you’ve at least seen a spinning wheel before. Maybe you watched someone at a Living History demonstration, or perhaps you have a friend who keeps babbling on about their wonderful wheel, or maybe (like me) you picked up a magazine and got sucked into a world of color and texture. However you developed the interest you want to get started. So now is the time for me to stop telling you how much fun you’ll have and give you some hard facts.

What is spinning?

Spinning is putting twist into something to make it form a new, stronger shape. You can spin with three blades of grass and your fingers. You can spin with long strips of fabric and a heavy rock. You can spin with your hair and a messed up curler. But none of these are the cool ways to do it.

If you want to begin spinning, you’re going to need three things. Something to spin into yarn, something with which to spin that thing into yarn, and something to tell you how to do it.