On Long-draw (with a wheel)


I spent a good bit of this evening spinning more (only an ounce today folks). And this is has become, at least for a bit, a spinning blog instead of a knitting one, so do forgive me. I have much enthusiasm.

It’s over plied, but I was really blissful while making the single. That should count for something.

1. It should come as no surprise that I (still) despise Navajo plying. I manged to find a rhythm, but it was difficult. It may have been easier if I had allowed the singles to rest, but all things considered, I think I did alright.

2. The birthday fiber (100% natural bfl) will be photoed. It arrived today (just about 20 minutes ago actually, which is awfully late. I hope everything was ok with the mail guy), and I haven’t even opened the box. I need to start spinning more evenly, get another bobbin, and a lazy kate before I even start to THINK about spinning it up for my sweater. (Did I mention I’ll be spinning up a sweater for me?)

3. The meat of the post: long-draw and what I think of it on a wheel.

Long draw on a spindle is my favourite way to spin. I spin drop spindles with long draw, which is apparently difficult. As I’m self-taught, I found myself doing a semi-long draw in order to go faster, and then full on long draw. I can make a fine, mostly even yarn when I spin long draw on a spindle, and I love the resultant yarns. I love how much farther fiber goes, and it makes lovely 2 ply for colourwork.

It is entirely different on a wheel. This is not to say I don’t love it dearly, it just took some adjustments. For those who are looking for help with long draw on the wheel, here’s some tips that I thought over while I was spinning. (I am not entirely altruistic–I want to have a record so I can remember this as well)

a. Relax. Be patient. Be slow.

b. No, really. Relax. I swore a bit at first, but the more relaxed you are, the better it seems to go.

c. Don’t panic when a slub slips out and makes you think the fiber is escaping. If you need to, stop the wheel. Coming from drop spindling, I get a sense I stop spinning much more often to fix problems than I think other beginning wheel spinners do. It’s ok. You can stop it, and start it up again.

d. Use your hand that shouldn’t be doing anything (your fiber holding hand is slowly pulling the fiber back by itself, right?) to gently tug and pull slubs out. They probably won’t thin entirely to even unless you stop the wheel, but they do thin out quite nicely. Otherwise, try not to use that hand. Use it to hold a glass of wine or beer (I kid you not, that was the most common advice I’ve seen on learning long draw)

e. If you aren’t, use a larger whorl than you would for short draw. This makes the twist move in slower, giving you more time to pull back without the twist turning into super glue and ruining your attempts.

f. (this is for scotch wheels, as mine is scotch) You need only as much brake tension as it takes to gently wind on the yarn. When you pull back too hard, the yarn will probably slip off the bobbin towards you a bit. I noticed that if I increased the tension much more than that, it drafted much too quickly and didn’t get enough twist.

g. Keep pedaling. Unless you need to stop the wheel, you should keep an even and gentle treadle going, even when you aren’t feeding it onto the bobbin. This helps make the yarn a little stronger.

The major key thing I’ve noticed with long draw on a wheel is everything should be gentle. This is the perfect lazy summer afternoon spinning–gentle gentle gentle. Also lazy. And you have a hand free for drinking lemonade!


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