Today’s Tips and Tricks Thursday post is all about spinning semi-woolen yarn. This is another style of spinning that I am still working hard to learn. It is defined as semi-woolen because it uses the traditional worsted prep of combed top but uses woolen style spinning techniques. A wide variety of spinning is covered by the “semi-woolen” umbrella but some of the key points are:
- Uses combed top for fiber prep
- Twist enters the web or the fiber between your hands
- Uses a forward draft
The fibers in the combed top are usually (but not always) shorter fibers such as angora rabbit, yak, camel, or a blend. This list is not inclusive … there are tons more short fibers that are used for woolen and semi-woolen spinning. The key determinant in defining semi-woolen spinning is that the spinner uses combed top in conjunction with a long draw to draft the fibers to produce a lovely soft and fuzzy yarn.
The drafting technique for semi-woolen is very much like that of the woolen long draw with the main exception being that the forward hand pulls the fiber gently towards the orifice, leaving the back hand in place, as opposed to the back hand doing most of the work in true woolen style. With my experiments with semi-woolen spinning I have found it very useful to try and keep a distance of approximately 6 inches between my hands and to frequently fully release the fiber from my forward hand. This helps to keep me from reverting to my almost instinctual short draw for worsted spinning.
Another key element of successful semi-woolen spinning is that it tends still to be under spun and over plied. This aids in giving the lofty and fluffy appearance and more bounce to the finished yarn than is seen in traditional worsted or semi-worsted spinning.
Recommended finishing techniques for semi-woolen yarns are to wash in hot soapy water, plunge into cold water to rinse and give the skein a good whack on the back of a chair to “fluff” the yarn, then hang to dry.
For those of you who are visual learners like me, I’ve included a short video by InspirationFibers that demonstrates the difference in technique from true worsted spinning to semi-woolen spinning and it only requires a change in the motion of the hands:
I hope that this encourages you to try something fun and new with your spinning and I’ll see you all tomorrow for FO Friday!