For those who read the blog without knowing too much about spinning and/or knitting, here’s a handy dictionary for you to peruse to get an idea of what on earth I’m talking about instead of just seeing pretty pictures. If there’s something you want defined, let me know and I can try to help!

Batt/Rolag–This tells a spinner how the fiber was prepared–in this case some form of carding.

Blocking–This is taking a newly knitted item, washing it, and drying it in the way you want–this particular method is called wet blocking. It can be as simple as a wash and laying flat to dry to washing, pinning out, and letting it dry. Steam blocking is the same thing, only setting it the way you want first and then steaming.

Carding–Preparing fiber by using carders. This is how batts and rolags come into existence. Carders are large pads with handles that have metal teeth on them, and they look like this. Yes, I have hurt myself on them. There are also drum carders, which do exactly the same thing as hand carders.

Circulars–These are needles that have two needle tips that look just like a normal needle, but are connected with a cable. These are used to knit in the round, though they can be used for flat knitting as well (which I frequently do).

Combing–Preparing fiber with combs, and I don’t mean like you comb your hair with. 🙂 This is where top and roving comes from. These look, as one friend described, “like a bunch of scythes tied together for extra death,” and you may agree after looking at them. They come in various ‘pitches’ which explains how many rows of teeth they have. The set I have are 2-pitch.

Cop–A spindle that has been wound to as full as possible before it starts to affect the yarn that is being spun.

DPNs–Double pointed needles. These are (usually) short needles that are pointed on both ends, used to knit in the round for small circumference objects. They’re my favoured method for socks and gloves.

Drafting–This is pulling the amount of fiber you want to twist together out. There are different methods of drafting, and each has their own name and properties.

Drafting Zone–This is an area on the fiber about as long as the staple length. Depending on your style of drafting, you may or may not let the twist into this section as you spin.

Flick carding–In this, you take a single lock of fiber and flick the tips with a carder or dog brush in order to open them up. This gets out the short junk and dirt and keeps the fibers aligned.

From the fold–This is a drafting method where fiber is pulled apart in batches roughly staple length, folded over the hand, and then spun. It isn’t a method I much like, mostly due to the difficulty I have with it on a spindle.

Gauge–This is how many stitches to the inch and rows to the inch a knitter gets in a given area. It’s a good way to measure out for projects, and how we’re able to make things that actually fit.

Knitting in the round–Exactly what it sounds like. Instead of turning back and forth while knitting, you knit one big continuous spiral.

Long draw–This is a style of drafting fiber where twist is allowed to enter the drafting zone. It tends to make a fluffier yarn since a core of air is trapped; this type of yarn also tends to wear more quickly. This is the type of draw typically used for woolen yarns. It’s very quick, though, and one of my favourite methods.

Plying–Taking two or more singles and spinning them together before setting the twist.

Roving/top–Prepared fiber to spin from. This usually indicates that the fiber was all aligned into one direction for spinning, which leads to a firmer yarn if you spin it worsted.

Scouring–This is done in order to clean fleeces and get the grease out. The water is heated to very hot but not boiling, soap is added, and then the fleece added. Usually it is followed by a few rinses in more water of roughly the same temperature. This is how all those greasy yellow fleeces turn lovely.

Set/Setting the twist— This is blocking for newly spun yarns. Once all the plying and spinning is complete, the yarn is tied off in several places to avoid knotting and then soaked in water for a while. Once done, it is hung to dry. Now the yarn is really yarn!

Short draw–This is also the ‘inch worm’ draw. In this, you don’t let any twist enter the drafting zone at all, instead pulling out very small sections and letting the twist enter into it. It makes a very firm, smooth yarn that can usually withstand wear better than long draw.

Singles–Fiber that has been twisted. This is used to make plied yarn, or can be set and knit with without plying.

Staple length–This is about how long a single strand of fiber is. Usually, one tugs off a wisp and uses that as the average. This determines your draft zone and may determine what type of yarn is decided to spin. Short staple length is a bit harder to spin than long staple length, as it has to have more twist more quickly to stay put.

Straights–This refers to straight needles, the typical image of knitting needles for most people.

Woolen–This is a type of yarn that is spun from rolags/batts and with a long draw. It’s very fluffy, usually uses short staple fibers, and makes for a very soft yarn.

Worsted–This is a type of yarn that is spun from roving/top and with a short draw, using long staple fibers that have been combed or flick carded. It makes for a very smooth, firm yarn that can withstand wear well.


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