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Round and round and round we go

posted Mar 18, 2010, 5:14 PM by Mary Powell   [ updated Mar 18, 2010, 5:36 PM ]
With a good bit of wool prepared, spinning can finally begin. This is about an ounce.

A few quick words on how spinning works. To make thread, a spinner first draws the wool out, sliding the hairs past one another until they overlap about half their length. Think of how bricks are laid. This turns a handful of wool into a long strand.

 At this point it is very weak because the only thing holding the wool together is static electricity. If the wool is then twisted the hairs can no longer slip past one another, and they lock together. You then have thread. If this is a little hard to understand, don't worry. It has to be seen to be understood. If you can't find a friendly neighborhood spinner to show you, check out Believe it or not, YouTube has a lot of videos of people spinning.
All a spinning wheel does is provide twist and a way to store the yarn.
Here am I at my wheel, on a lovely day at Fort Boonesborough Living History Museum.
On this type of spinning wheel, the peddle turns the wheel, which turns the flyer, which turns the bobbin. The spinner treadles while drawing out the wool, and letting the twist creep up the thread.
If you look closely, you can see the area of loose wool between my hands where the twist is starting to lock the wool together.

When a length of thread has formed, the spinner relaxes the tension and let the thread wind onto the bobbin.
None of these photos capture the motion involved. My front hand is moving back and forth while the fingers of my back hand release the fibers and my foot taps at about 100 beats per minute.
Again, it makes more sense when you see it. Come visit me and I will even let you try.