Three tips for making a consistent yarn

You’ve just learned how to spin and now you are struggling to create consistent yarn.  Or perhaps you’ve been spinning for a long time and are ready to refine your technique.  These tips will help you create a more consistent yarn.

Tip One: Know Your Staple

Often, if you are experiencing problems with inconsistent yarn, it is related to drafting.   Whether you’re a new spinner or an old hand, it is always valuable to go back and check the staple of your fiber and adjust your hands.  For newer spinners, it is a question of building up muscle memory.  For experienced spinners, it is easy to fall into hand habits and default movements.

Remember, aim to hold your hands roughly 1.5x staple length.  If your hands are too far apart, you will wind up with thin spots where your fiber drafted too much.  If your hands are too close together, you may have thick spots and you might be wearing out your hands by fighting to draft your fiber from both ends.

Also try to reach the same distance into your fiber supply each time you draw fibers into the draft zone.  The deeper into your fiber supply you pull from, the more fibers in your drafting zone and the thicker yarn you will make.

Tip Two: Rhythm, Rhythm, Rhythm

Rhythm is everything in spinning.  Let me say that again.  Rhythm is everything.  Consistent yarn requires the same number of twists in a particular length of yarn, throughout an entire skein.  If you’re like me, rhythm doesn’t come naturally.

First, try to practice treadling your wheel with nothing on it; no fiber, no yarn.  Treadle while watching a movie.  Treadle while having a conversation.  The more you practice treadling, the more regular you will become, even if you don’t have a strong internal sense of rhythm.  When you practice treadling, you are increasing your muscle memory and reinforcing the neural network.  The less you have to consciously think about treadling, the easier it is to find rhythm.

If all else fails and you can’t find a natural rhythm, don’t give up.  You can always count.  You read that right.  Count your treadles for each time you draft.  Even if you can’t keep a steady treadle, you can make sure you’re still getting the same amount of twist each time you draft.  A funny thing happens when you manually count treadles; often, your rhythm and your muscle memory kick in when you least expect it.

Tip Three:  Sleep on It

All this practice sounds fantastic, but there’s one more thing you need to bring it all together — a good night’s sleep.  Research has shown that sleep is necessary for the consolidation of information.  Basically, during sleep, the brain retraces the neural pathways used for a particular task and determines which pathways are the most efficient.  By reinforcing certain pathways, the same information is more likely to travel along those pathways, saving the brain resources.  If you’re feeling frustrated after a spinning session, set your work aside and come back to it the next day.  You’ll be amazed at the difference it can make.


Reference: Harvard on Sleep, Learning, and Memory

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