My friend Sara is working on making thinner yarns and is getting better. I was going to just send her some small tips on spinning fine yarn but then I thought they might be helpful to everyone.
You all know the rule the thinner the yarn the more twist it needs to hold together. Sometimes getting it to have enough twist before the bobbin yanks it in is half the problem. Especially if you’re working on an Irish tensioned wheel. You know the problem. You’ve got some thin yarn and your getting excited and all of a sudden there is just too much pull on it and it SNAPS.
Do you see the path the yarn takes? That’s my leader and you want the yarn to follow that path – If you have hooks on both sides, you can just hook it through the hooks. It goes from the bobbin to the right side then to the left side and then out of the orifice where you are going to spin. You will need to change the path as the yarn goes up the bobbin. If you find that there is still too much pull and it’s still not working, you can always lace it back and forth again. Bobbin – to right to left to right to left and then back out the orifice.
Another helpful thing is to have a thicker core on the bobbin. You can buy the pretty bobbins that have the plastic or wooden cores that are larger – or you can make your own. Buy a piece of foam pipe insulation. It comes in different sizes for different sized pipes – you want one that will fit snug on your bobbin. And you want to cut it so it fits in snug and you have to be careful not to get yarn stuck in the sides but it works really well.
The whorls and bobbins need to be on a higher speed. This depends on your drive system and your wheel. Remember to set it so that you have more twist and less pull in from the bobbin. Which is just the opposite from what I was saying about low twist singles.
Your fiber needs to be pre-drafted well. Obviously if you’re using a well prepped fiber then you don’t need the predrafting but you do need to know the fiber you are using. Some blended batts just aren’t going to be suitable for lace spinning. There are lots of pretty batts out there that have several fiber types in one batt but that aren’t thoroughly blended. These aren’t necessarily made for lace spinning. Especially not if you are just starting out with your lace adventures. Pick something that is all one fiber type or one that has the different fibers very well blended. You will be happy you chose the right fiber otherwise it can feel like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
That’s not to say you can’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole. Experimenting and trying to do something that isn’t easy or something you are supposed to be able to do is half the fun sometimes. My only suggestion is that if this is your first foray into lace spinning and it’s not working – take a look at your fiber. Something else might be easier. Once you’re able to do the easy stuff and have the technique down, then go for that square peg.
My best advice for spinning good yarn is to enjoy yourself. If you are fighting with it, walk away or try something else. You don’t want to get in a fight with your wheel. I hear the vocabulary of some of the wheels rivals a sailor.