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Anne Liese's Fibers and Stuff

Spinning for Strength

Fiber selection:

  • long fiber length is better (called staple for wools)
  • strong individual fibers


  • less crimp means more wiry & durable but less soft & fuzzy
  • fine crimp usually spins into fine yarn better but may be too fuzzy
  • weak tips should be pulled or cut off
  • avoid fleece with second cuts, vegetable matter, neps & mats
  • may leave grease in, or oil washed fleece
  • dyes very well


  • longer fibers may be called "Pima" "Sea Island" "Egyptian"
  • Cotton also comes in brown, yellow, and green


  • Tussah vs. cultivated
  • degummed silk comes in brick, roving, top
  • reeled silk is strongest - have to start with cocoons & twist several groups of reeled filament together
  • silk bells, caps, handkerchiefs not best for embroidery thread - won't be as easy to spin, smooth, shiny, or durable
  • dyes very well, but differently from wool in some cases


  • strick or line, not tow
  • wet-spin for few fuzzies
  • spin just to the point of over-spinning

Fiber Preparation:

  • attenuate commercially prepared roving or top
  • splitting or breaking roving or top
  • combing
  • carding
  • flicking, picking, and spinning from the lock

Spinning methods:

  • short draft for wool on spinning wheel or drop-spindle *primary*
  • long draft for wool on spindle wheel
  • long draft for cotton on supported spindle
  • use distaff for long wools and linen with in-the-hand spindle
  • spinning from the fold and other modified drafts for silk

Drafting an even, smooth yarn:

  • before the drafting zone
    • distaff can help keep fibers away from spun thread
    • pre-prep should have loosened fibers so they aren't too "sticky"
  • in the drafting zone
    • watch how many fibers enter vs. exit - if the difference is large, do more pre-prep on fibers
    • control the amount of twist that enters drafting zone - let a little in but don't let twist take up your whole drafting zone
    • for some fibers, roll new thread with pinching hand to smooth
    • some fibers (bast fibers like linen) spin best wet. Use pinching hand to wet.
  • in the new thread
    • ensure even twist
      • on wheel count number of revolutions
      • with spindle, pay attention to how difficult it is to spin the spindle
    • keep "goal" yarn with you for comparison

All content copyright the author, Jennifer Munson munson.jennifer@gmail.com The author makes no guarantees for instructions and recipes on this site; neither does she accept responsibility for their outcomes. Verbatim copies may be made for educational purposes only provided they contain original copyright marking.

This page created February 4, 2002

Last updated August 02, 2005