This week’s Tips And Tricks Thursday is all about spinning semi-worsted yarns. This style of spinning is one that I am quite comfortable with as my favorite yarn/fiber store carries a ton of delightful fibers and keeps me inspired. As with semi-woolen, this type of spinning covers a range of different spinning techniques but some of the key features are:
Traditional woolen prepped fibers or carded fibers are used
Twist does not enter the fiber between the hands
A short draw is used (sometimes called the “inch worm”)
So the fibers you would tend to look for with this type of spinning tend to be the ones that are prepared in a less orderly manner. Carded fibers, rolags, and fiber batts all work very well with this style of spinning. Fibers on the shorter end of the spectrum can be used but you can also get away with spinning more of the medium staple length wools to long staple length wools in this manner as you are using a short draw for your spinning.
Semi-worsted yarns appeal to me because the have many of the characteristics of worsted yarn that I love blended with the woolen. It is like a “best of both worlds” scenario for me. The yarn spun this way tend to be:
smoother but less elastic than their woolen or semi-woolen counterparts
they are quite durable and show off the luster and shine of longer wools and silk.
they are a bit softer and fuzzier than the woolen yarns
they tend to be a bit warmer than worsted yarns
The short draw technique for semi-worsted is very much the same (or the same) as worsted spinning. You can draft either forward or back but the hand movements are small and precise, hence the reason some call this draw “the inchworm”. The twist stays between the forward hand and the orifice and I like to smooth the yarn as it slips through my fingers. Here is a great example of semi-worsted spinning:
If you’ve never tried this style of spinning, I highly encourage you to give it a whirl. Happy crafting all!
In the previous Tips And Tricks Thursday posts, I shared some great videos by others and info on how to get you started spinning. Starting with today’s post, I thought we would get a little bit more nitty gritty. Did you know that there are four different types/styles of spinning? I’m sure that there are actually more because each spinner has their own style, but MOST fall into four categories:
Over the next four Tips and Tricks Thursday post, we’ll be diving into these, starting today with worsted.
The definition of worsted spinning, according to Lee Juvan in her Knitty.com article “Worsted Yarns and Worsted Spinning”, is “a yarn spun from parallel fibers that have been combed (not carded) to remove shorter bits and spun with a short draw to keep the fibers in their parallel alignment.” Another key feature of this style of spinning as noted by Judith MacKenzie in “A Spinner’s Toolbox” is that the twist doesn’t enter the web. So as you are spinning, the twist never travels past your forward hand into the fiber. To be really technical, the twist never enters the drafting triangle or the fiber between your hands.
I found a really lovely video demonstration of worsted spinning by ruthmacgregor on youtube, which show these principles in action:
This is my favorite way of spinning or drafting technique because it is the first way that I learned so it is the method that I am most comfortable with. The key points to keep in mind are:
use combed top for your fiber preparation
use a short forward or backward drafting motions
no twist should enter the fiber between your hands
Worsted spun (not to be confused with worsted weight) yarns tend to be very smooth and dense and show off the luster of the fiber. They are not especially stretchy or springy but they do tend to be harder wearing. This type of spinning is ideal if your are planning to knit socks from your handspun.
For anyone who enjoys reading, especially about history and textiles, I’ve found a very interesting book available for online reading titled “Principles of Worsted Spinning” by Howard Priestman. Written in 1906, this book explains the history of worsted spinning and the ins and outs of homespun and commercial spinning. It covers just about everything your might want to know about this type of spinning in its 354 pages.
So if this spinning method is new to you I encourage you to try it out!