Handspinning for Beginners – Finishing Your Yarn
This is the last article on beginning handspinning using a drop spindle! If you have been following I have gone over everything from obtaining tools such as fiber and a drop spindle to crafting your fiber and potentially plying it. Now to finish your yarn! One of the easiest steps.
To begin you will need a few things. A wool wash (or fiber rinse) such as Eucalan which is easily obtained online on sites such as Amazon.
I like the lavender scent but there are other scents and unscented as well. Here is a small bottle that is perfect if you are just starting:
There are also sample packets if you are unsure if this wash will work for you. Wool washes can also be found occasionally in person at yarn shops and even shops selling baby items as wool inserts are sometimes used in cloth diapering. Wool washes are generally rinse-free and contain a small amount of lanolin which is found naturally in wool but is partially removed during fiber processing as too much can damage the fiber in time. The wool wash cleanses and also conditions wool fiber. There are many brands one can use but I prefer Eucalan and I tend to find it much more easily in person. It also comes in a variety of fragrances if you are not allergic. Some suggest gentle dish or hand soap to set yarn (I will explain what this means shortly) which I used when I first learned to spin. With this you would definitely need to rinse the yarn however and it will not condition your yarn which can make it brittle. Having a wool wash will come in handy to clean any creation you may make from the yarn in the future as well.
Other items you may need include a yarn swift or if funds or space are not in abundance you could use a Niddy Noddy or even a partner’s hands to wrap your yarn on. A yarn swift attaches to a table or counter and can be opened to various widths.
Here is my yarn swift that I purchased off of Amazon:
To use it you pull to widen the swift then tighten it into place. Then you use string to tie onto the beginning of your yarn before spinning it by hand to wind the yarn around. Once finished you tie the end piece to the yarn and retie the beginning piece of yarn to it as well instead of the yarn swift. Then you can tie the yarn loosely into bunches to keep the loop in place when removing the yarn later. This will be helpful when washing/setting the yarn so it won’t tangle. I wrap it loosely around the bunches but others weave the string in and out to keep it even more loose. It’s mostly a matter of preference.
Here is a video on using a yarn swift. However, this and most videos will show you how to make a ball and not what I mentioned above. Use this video to see how to set up the swift.
Once finished you loosen the yarn swift so it collapses then you have your bundle! A Niddy Niddy serves a similar function. It’s handheld with a shaft and two branches across the ends to wrap your yarn around. You would still tie the yarn as with the yarn swift. If these are not available you can wrap your yarn around someone’s hands or the tip of a chair.
After this, you can wash your bundle right away or twist it into a skein like the above video showed how to do and then wash.
To wash follow the instructions on your wool wash on how much soap to add. If you are using dish soap I would use half a teaspoon to a gallon of warm water. With wool washes you will need to soak your yarn for at least 15 minutes. Afterward, you can gently wring out your yarn. Then you take a towel and tightly roll your yarn in it to push out extra liquid. Be gentle as to not felt your yarn. Once satisfied that you have gotten as much out as possible you can take your skein by the end loops and shake it or slap it to really get it set. This was a tip given to me when I started and I do it every time! Take out some frustration if you have any while you are at it!
After this hang to dry in a warm place or set flat on a towel. I use the hooks on my shower curtain for mini skeins (small amounts of yarn) and a hanger in the laundry room for larger ones. Some people buy full drying racks or find other places in the home to hang where drops of water won’t ruin anything. Get creative! It may take a few days to dry so be patient!
Once dry you can cut the strings off! Then you can leave as is for storage, re-skein it as it will have loosened during this process or use a tool such as a ball wonder or a nostepinne to wind into a “cake” or center pull ball.
Here is my ball winder I bought off of Amazon. There are many types and come in wood as well for those who prefer to buy things that last a lifetime. There are electric ball winders as well but I have yet to try one.
Here is an example video on using a ball winder:
Here’re my rosewood Nostepinne which are nice as they can be taken anywhere for use and are easily stored. Nostepinne come in many sizes for different amounts of yarn, etc. This is another tool that is chosen as a matter of preference. Here is a video on using a Nostepinne
And that’s it! These are very basic instructions to get you started. Once you know the basics you can expand on them! Find more tools you may find useful, experiment with techniques, etc. Recently, a fiber artist in an online group I am a part of made a comment to the effect of learning to spin takes 10 minutes to learn and 20 years of practice. Enjoy the learning process!
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