How to Spin Yarn: Prepping Combed Top

I can haz process?

Picking up spinning again was a lot like any other skill I’m trying to learn. First, I find this thing that sounds really cool and I would like to try. Prime examples: knitting, kumihimo, temari, origami, and bookbinding. Second, I hit the internet and research tools, tutorials, and techniques for days, weeks, and even months before I decide to make something a priority. Third, gather supplies. Fourth, actually do something. Anything to just get started. 

If I like that brand new started something, I keep doing it. I figure out how and why it works. I start experimenting. I get comfortable. I develop a process of how to do this awesome something from start to finish. With spinning, the realization that I knew what I was doing and that I had a process hit me all at once. I was absolutely giddy.  

So, I’m sharing my process. I hope that it will help you get started, come up with one of your own or, if you already know how to spin, see your process as something amazing and worth celebrating. 

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Step 1: Stash Diving. Since my first, short-lived attempt at spindle spinning, I’ve been buying fiber. Not much. Just enough to have something to choose from when I came back to the spindle. The stash has served me well in that regard. For this attempt, I picked out 4 oz. of Blue Face Swirl (Naked) from Gale’s Art.


Step 2: Inspection. This batch of fiber was twisted up like a skein of yarn. So, I opened it up just like a skein of yarn. Then I spread everything out and got a sense of the color distribution and how much 4 oz. of fiber actually looks like.


Step 3: Division. I didn’t pick out this fiber with any particular project in mind. I just wanted to try my hand at a 2-ply yarn. So, I split the entire length of combed top down the middle. 


Step 4: Wrangling. There’s a brief pause for a little “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” to decide which half to use first. The “not it” bit is crochet chained to keep it whole and safe until I need it. I take one end, make a loop, and tuck in the tail to make a big circle.


Next, pull a loop through the circle. Pull a new loop loosely through the last loop and continue. Eventually, all the roving is gathered up and easy to handle. At the end, I just pull the roving through the last loop to keep it together. This is the only bit of crochet I know.


That giant circle I made at the beginning? That’s how I know to work from the opposite end since a crochet chain can only be pulled out from the end and not the beginning. Just pull the tail out and and take apart the chain as you need it.

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Next post, I’ll get back to the other half of the fiber and start spinning.