The other day I got a fiber sample – a lengthwise striped combed top in different shades of green wool and silk. I decided to spin it from the fold. Spinning from the fold is a great way to get a light and airy yarn. The technique is also perfect for getting crispier colours in a lengthwise striped top.
Spinning from the fold
I mostly spin fiber that I have prepared myself. But sometimes commercially prepared fiber comes my way. This is one of those times – a Granny Smith apple green lengthwise striped top of wool (my guess is BFL or merino) and silk. I saw the perfect opportunity to show you how I spin from the fold.
To spin from the fold you place a staple-length portion of the fiber over your finger. This means that you spin from the middle of the staple length, so that the fibers are folded when they enter the drafting zone. This does two things:
- Since the fiber comes into the drafting triangle from each side of your finger, the drafting triangle will be wider compared to spinning from the end of the fiber. This will let more air into the yarn.
- The folded fibers strive towards unfolding. This too will let more air into the yarn.
A yarn spun from the fold will thus be lighter and airier than the same yarn spun with the same grist from the ends of the fibers.
I spun the yarn above with short draw from flicked staples of Jämtland wool from the fold with a supported spindle. At first I spun from my hand-combed top, but when I tried flicking the staples separately and spinning them from the fold I just knew this was the way this wool wanted to be spun. I love moments like that.
Spinning from the fold is not a drafting technique. Rather, it is simply a different way to hold the fiber. You can spin both woolen and worsted from the fold. You can spin from the fold with any spinning tool.
Spinning from the fold is not difficult. However, there are a few things to think about when you do.
- Make sure you pull out a staple-length only. If you pull out more than a staple-length some fibers will be spun from the middle and some from the end. This will create a mess.
- You also need to make sure you tuck the ends into your hand when you spin. If you don’t, there is a risk that they get caught in the yarn. This will create a bigger mess.
- Still, you need to hold the fiber gently, like a baby bird (still tucking the ends into the hand). If you hold the fibers too tightly they won’t be released into the twist.
- You can choose to either keep the fiber over your finger or remove your finger and just hold the folded fiber gently in your hand.
- To join I simply place the spun end over the folded new staple and allow the fiber to get caught in the twist.
I spin from the fold when I have a low micron fleece with a long staple length. The fiber needs to be long enough to be folded over your finger and tucked in to your hand. It also needs to be fine enough not to get too bulky in the fold. I flick card each staple separately and spin staple by staple from the fold. A commercially prepped top is also a good candidate for spinning from the fold.
One extra superpower with spinning from the fold is crispier colours in a lengthwise striped top. Spinning from the fold is an excellent way to enhance the colour and/or fiber variations.
What happens is that one colour stripe at a time enters the drafting zone instead of getting blended should you spin from the end of the fiber. The colour variations stay clear and crisp. This feature is really fun to play with!
Tools and materials
The little supported spindle in the main video is a rocket speed Tahkli from John Galen. The bowl is actually a singing bowl for meditation (also bought from John Galen), hence the little bell sounds in the video. The fiber is a combed top I got as a sample from Vinterverkstan.
The spindle in the extra clip is a Portuguese spindle from Saber Fazer. The fiber is a Norwegian NKS (Norsk kvit sau or Norwegian white sheep).
I shot the clip with the sheep in the background last summer at the cabin we have rented for the past five years.
I shot the main video under the hop arch in our allotment. We assembled the arch this spring to get some shade in the corner. It is a very nice corner for all sorts of fiber related activities! We planted the tansies to attract bees and other pollinators. It worked.
The red currant are nearly ripe now.
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