Thursday, 30 July 2015

Hand Spinning Instructions

These photos and comments support the instructions that come with Betty's Hand Spinning Kits...

Spread out some fleece so that it mixes with the fleece at the end of the leader (the thread that is tied underneath the whorl (disc). You can start to mesh it together a bit at this stage, before you start twisting the spindle. That's how you start but also how you rejoin if (when!) your thread breaks.
Pinch the end of the spun thread (where it stops being spun thread and starts being fleece) with your left hand, also with some fleece in your left hand. (Most people find that this is comfortable, but you may want to try holding the spun thread and fleece in your right hand and spinning the spindle with your left hand - whatever's most comfortable for you.) Start to spin the spindle clockwise with your right hand.
When the spindle is spinning (clockwise), move your right hand to pinch the thread, changing places with your left hand. While you pinch, pull up some fleece with your left hand. At this stage, experiment with how much to pull up - too much and you'll get a very thick, loose thread (although this can be great for some creative projects), too little and the thread will break because it's too thin to support the weight of the spindle. This can be a very slow movement - no need to panic!
Move your right hand upwards and watch the twist run up the thread. When your right hand meets your left hand, you can take it away from the thread. If the spindle stops spinning  or starts to spin anti-clockwise, stop it by putting it on the ground or against your leg. Keep on repeating from picture 2.
When the thread is longer than is comfortable to be able to continue spinning, remove the thread from the hook and wind it round the spindle beneath the whorl...
 bring it up and over the whorl...
and round the hook as before. Start spinning again from picture 2.

And that's all there is to it…!

Okay, so you're bound to take some time to get it right - you're very lucky if you 'get it' at the first attempt. If the thread breaks, just start again from picture one. Keep practising and you'll get the hang of it. 

Experiment with making the thread thick, thin and lumpy - much more interesting than just smooth and even!
When you've spun your thread, take it off the spindle and wind it loosely round the top of a chair or a friend's hands to make a hank, tied in three or four places to keep it tidy. Soak it in warm (not hot) water with some gentle detergent. Don't agitate the water - unless you want to end up with felt! Dry it naturally - don't tumble dry it.

If you're stuck, don't give up! It may take a bit of time and practise but it'll be worth it. You can always ask a friend to help by doing the twisting of the spindle while you concentrate on the thread at the top until you get more confident. When you've got the hang of it, you can try spinning other things - mix your dog's hair into the wool for a really personal thread, try alpaca fibre and look for different colours of fleece. 

There are several videos on YouTube that will help - just put 'Hand Spinning' into the search box. If you're really struggling, contact me - or via the contact link at

This could start years of enjoyment with spinning and creating; it did for me - thanks to Mum for teaching me in the first place x. 

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