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What Is Spinning Wool?

                             Spinning:

The History and The Entire Craft of Spinning.

Whirring sounds from a creaking wooden pedal fill the air. As a woman sits comfortably at an antique spinning wheel, her fingers work quickly over the wool strand that draws in as the wheel turns. A basket of roving sits at her left with another at her right full of yarn. Her feet move rhythmically up and down with the pedal. Here we see the basic method of spinning, just like in the fairy tale story, Sleeping Beauty; though in her case it was linen, not wool.

But what is spinning?

Spinning fibers into yarn is more than just an art. It was part of a lifestyle back in history. People spun their own fibers collected from plants or animals and made it into clothing for warmth or extra income. When the factory machines got here and started making clothing, people slowly stopped spinning their own. The machine clothing was nicer looking, feeling, and in style. So the spinning wheel was cast aside and forgotten for a while. Though after some time the rage of machine clothing dissipated. Others found it more enjoyable to keep making their own clothes. The act of spinning has been suddenly revived and is now a rapid growing hobby, especially now that people don’t have to depend on spinning things themselves. Spinning is enjoyable now, more than a necessary task. Its rapid revival is extraordinary as people begin to keep the ancient method of fabric making alive.

The entire craft of spinning itself has been present in nearly every part of the early history of man, from the paintings in Egyptian tombs to Grecian songs. (Kroll 5)

The action of twisting or spinning any fiber together makes them noticeably stronger. (Kroll1) The way the fibers work together as you twist them is very interesting. Each hair is in a different position as it is twisted. When twisting the fibers together they grab onto each other. If you tried to break one hair in half it would be pretty easy right? Well breaking an entire cord of hundreds of hairs is a lot more difficult. Each fiber strand attaches itself to a neighbor and holds tight.

“Records of the first attempt at spinning date to be about 9,000 years ago” (wiki web) with the use animal and plant material. Different kinds of plant and animal fiber were used for different things; jute or hemp to make rope, or softer fibers like cotton, flax, silk, or wool for cloth. The act of spinning had a huge impact on the way man lived. Without this process, clothing, rope, and cloth would not have been invented. So with this craft we find ourselves surrounded with all these things that we take for granted. If spinning hadn’t been invented, neither would the shirt and pants you are wearing now.

Very early spinners didn’t use a spinning wheel like you might think. Some spinners would twist yarn by hand and wind it onto a stick. Others created a faster way of doing this by attaching a “whorl” to the top or bottom part of the stick called a “shaft” to be a weight for their new invention. This type of spinning device is called a “Drop Spindle.” A drop spindle is whorl mounted stick that draws out and twists choice fiber. A hook or notch at the top part of the stick holds the spun yarn in place. You use your hand to keep it going. Just like spinning a top, you twist the whorl to keep the spindle going as you draw out the fibers with your other hand. This action is very repetitive, for at some point, the spindle will stop spinning and you will have to re-spin it and re draw.

Spindles may be drop spindles like those described above, or suspended spindles which are a later innovation. The drop spindle is mounted with a whorl on either end of the shaft. Suspended spindles are used like a top on the floor or table with the yarn being drawn out from the side. Some drop spindles called Navajo spindles use a larger spindle which was supported by the spinner’s thighs. A Turkish spindle has a cross bar whorl on it, almost like an X with the shaft running right in the middle of it. Some spindles were used while walking. (This requires lots of practice!) The grasp spindle is by far the strangest and most interesting of the spindles.

“It was a New World innovation. This was a large hand spindle with a shaft and a whorl, that was held in both hands and twirled in the air. It’s spinning end and whorl were turned upward, away from the spinner, who simply grasped the lower end of the shaft. The fiber was first rolled into a rope-like, continuous roll or strand of fibers called roving, then pulled through a suspended ring, or over bar above the spinners head.” (Knoll 6)

Amazing things can happen when you get good at spinning with a hand spindle. At one point in India, some hand spinners spun almost half a million yards of yarn from a single pound of cotton!

Drop spindles require lots of practice and patience. No matter how good you get at the drop spindle, it is still a much slower process to making yarn then that if you were using a wheel. But they are still fun, portable, and definitely one of the oldest ways of spinning.

It is said that the first spinning wheel originated in India. The wheel was a huge impact on the way fibers were spun. It was faster, neater, and probably a bit more enjoyable. The wheel was faster than hand spinning because of the “wheel” part of the machine. This was easier to turn then the little whorl on a drop spindle. Eventually, the wheels drifted into other parts of Asia and eventually into Europe. The Great wheels appeared in Germany in the 13th century and in England around the 14th century. (spinning wheel, wiki web.)

There are many different kinds of wheels just like drop spindles. Some of the wheels were pedal-less wheels. The Great Wheel or the High Wheel was a wheel you turned with your hands, and you had to stand to do this. This wheel was a very time consuming wheel. There was a lot involved in the process of yarn making with this big guy. A lot of winding, stepping backwards, turning the wheel, unwinding, and a sideways motion with the hands. Some of these wheels required two people to operate. Though this method was faster than the drop spindle, it was still very time consuming.

Then there is the treadle wheel and the flax wheel. These wheels you would use while sitting down. The flax wheel was designed for spinning flax “The cage was used to hold a wad of fanned flax roving so that the spinner could draw out from this.” (spinning wheel, wiki web.) What is also interesting about the flax wheel is that it also had a special bench with it. You sat on this bench and in the bench was a drilled hole with a pail of water beneath it. This was so the spinner could dip and wet her fingers while spinning the flax. Because flax doesn’t have the natural oils that animal fibers have, water is used to keep it smooth. If you want a hairy textured yarn, then don’t use water.

The treadle wheels are the most popular. They are the fastest way to spin yarn and are super fun. The main parts of a treadle wheel include: the pedal or “treadle”, the flyer, maidens, bobbin, orifice, drive wheel, flyer hooks, drive band, and tension knobs. The drive wheel is the large wheel that gives the spinning wheel its name. This spins around and around giving power to the twist in your yarn. The wheel has a drive band on it which sits in between a groove in the top of it. This runs across the wheel and onto another tiny wheel called the flyer. The flyer holds your bobbin and turns as the wheel turns. The bobbin slides onto a metal stick on your flyer and just above it are metal hooks. The hooks are also attached to the flyer and this is where you put a strand of yarn. The hooks direct the yarn where it should go onto your bobbin. The maidens are vertical cylinders of wood that hold the flyer into place. They also hold the orifice opening. The flyer contains the orifice which is just a hole that is in a little piece of metal tube. The tube slides into a fitting hole and pokes out towards the spinner. On the bobbin, a tension band sits across a groove in the top and feeds down it and hooks onto a spring and hook. Near the spinner is a knob to adjust the tension of the yarn. This helps control the speed of the twist in your spun fiber. Then the treadle keeps the wheel going.

The Traditional wheel is now the world’s most popular spinning wheel. The wheel is 22” mounted on ball bearings for effortless spinning. The Kiwi 2 spinner is a small and simple to use wheel made from strong MDF (medium density fiberboard) wheel with ball bearings. Elizabeth 2 spinner is a stunning wheel that contains a 24” high wheel, which  includes ball bearings for smooth spinning. The Joy 2 wheel is a very portable spinning wheel with a handle and two pedals. Two pedals make reversing directions much smoother then ones with one pedal. The Traveler wheel is a compact castle spinning wheel with ball bearings for effortless spinning. It is a two pedal and is smooth and silent.  The Charka spinner is used for spinning fine yarns with short staple lengths but can be adjusted to do medium staple lengths as well. The country spinner is used for making art yarns and has a 1 1/8” orifice, which makes thick yarn easy. All these wheel types can be purchased from the Ashford company.

Now that we have covered the wheels, let’s move into what yarn is made of. Yarn is made of fiber, and fiber comes from lots of animals and plants.

Cashmere is super silky and soft! Such beautiful stuff. Cashmere is the undercoat/down of the cashmere goat in Asia. Cashmere is expensive, because the goat that grows the stuff only has about four or five ounces of it. It lives in cold climates and the outer coat, (called guard hairs,) grows over the down and is very long and prickly. Cashmere is spendy because when it is freshly harvested, it has all of the guard hairs in it. They must be removed from the fiber to bring out the full potential of softness, and this is time consuming work.

Mohair is the fiber from the long silky hair of the Angora goat. Longer staple lengths are easier to spin and more enjoyable, in my opinion. This breed is great because it possesses lengthier stuff then cashmere. Shorter staple lengths are harder to spin because you must do it slower and do short draws with the hand, thus, resulting in a more time consuming yarn. Mohair fiber is very soft and usually white. The angora goat has long floppy ears and was known to be the first animal domesticated by man.

Alpaca fiber is very fine and durable. It bears no lanolin, resulting in difficulties to shed water, thus making it hypoallergenic. It’s very soft and lustrous, similar to sheep’s wool. Another fun fact about the alpaca is that its fiber is flame resistant. The alpaca was believed to have originated from the Vicunas, a smaller type of camel-like creature.

Llama fiber is considerably valuable. Though not as fine as alpaca, it is still very satisfactory for spinning, easier to clean then most fibers and has a good drawing consistency. Drawing consistency is the amount of fiber that can be easily drawn from the hand while spinning. It doesn’t have the natural oils like other animals but even without it, it seems to draw well. Llama fleece is especially easy to spin when carded.

Exotic fibers include sources such as camels, vicuna, (a south American llama relative that doesn’t survive well in captivity,) deer, antelope, cow, horse, buffalo, musk ox, yak, and the highlander. The highlander is a type of cow and lives in the glens of Scotland. They have handsome heads with large horns. They also have thick soft undercoats and long outer hair. Each fiber type can be spun easily by adding a little bit of spinning oil. Because it doesn’t contain the natural oils, adding some to your hand will help with the drawing consistency.  Other exotic fibers include; dog, cat, raccoons, opossums, beavers, muskrats, mink, bear, kangaroo, and silk. Spinning silk takes a little practice because it is short in staple length. Use a short draw and adjust the tension often so that you can create a long continuous thread.

 

Did you know some people spin feathers into their yarns? These make colorful novelty yarns. A variety of exotic birds like the pheasant, peacock, egret, and ostrich are highly prized for their feathers. The longer and fluffier the feathers are, the better.

Not all spinning fibers come from animals, however. Flax is used for making linen. It is part of the nettle family and the fiber resembles long golden hair. Cotton is a soft white fiber. It is said to be very difficult to spin because of its short staple length. This discourages some spinners but really, it just takes some patience to keep a short steady draw going. Cotton makes a beautiful yarn when blended with other fibers. Silk is a marvelous honey colored fiber and is a joy to spin.

Jute is a smooth and relatively coarse fiber coming from the lime tree family. The fibers are very long because the plant can get to be 12 feet high. Hemp belongs to the nettle family. It can grow to be 18 feet high and should be treated like flax on a treadle or flax wheel.  Manila Hemp is a plant member of the banana family. Its fiber is spun and usually made into clothing. Ramie is also a member of the nettle family. It is very strong when wet, yet when combined with another fiber it is as soft as silk.

Sisal is a tall tropical plant and is a member of the agave group, a relative of the Amaryllis. Coir is made from the outer husk of the coconut. Coir is usually made into rope and twine. Raffia is a palm leaf and is used to make baskets, mats, and many types of outer wear.

Corn silks are very fragile when they are dry and are too sticky to spin when fresh. If you spin it when it is partially dry and add a bit of spinning oil, you should have a satisfactory yarn.

Milkweed floss, dandelion fluff, cattail fluff, cottonwood fluff, and thistle down are other types of plant fibers that can be spun too.

What is Wool Exactly?

Wool is the fluffy hair that grows on sheep, llamas, camels, and alpacas. It is by far the most popular fiber to spin with. Wool is an amazing material that doesn’t require anything but land, food, water, fencing, and of course a few sheep. (Parkes 11) There are so many different types of wool.

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Wool is a natural protein of fiber that begins its growth deep within skin of the sheep. The strands of fiber that makes up wool actually breathes. It filters the cold air and turns it into hot air and traps it inside. If you’ve ever wondered why wool is so warm, then that’s because of the breathing process.

To keep the process of the breathing going, wool must be properly cared for. Sunlight, dust, and slight amounts of moisture are the enemies to wool. This can cause prickliness, pilling, molding, bleaching, and other nasty stuff to your wool.  Keeping wool in a pillow case, in a dark, warm, clean and dry area will preserve your wool. A clean pillow case is a good storage bag because it is breathable material and this keeps the wool in good condition.

Each strand of hair or fiber on a sheep consists of scales. They are much like your own hair. If you place your fingers on a strand of hair and run them down along it towards the ground it will feel soft and slick. But if you run upwards towards your head the hair may not feel so soft. That tiny bit of resistance is the scales pushing back at you. These scales help repel dirt and water away from the hair and skin.

Because sheep’s wool is the easiest known fiber to come by, I decided to go through a variety of sheep breeds for choice spinners. Every spinner has a kind of breed they like best. But it also depends on what type of yarn they like to spin. Here are some of the top ten breeds that seem to be the favorites of spinners.

Shetland sheep come in a great range of colors. Starting with the typical black, white, brown and grey, but emsket, shaela, mooret, musket, and mioget are slightly different colors. The emsket is a dusky blue grey while the shaela is a dark steely black grey. The musket is a light gray-brown and the mooret is a color ranging from fawn colored browns to dark red browns. Finally, the mioget is a light brown with warm overtones. Shetlands offer fiber loves a huge variety of yarns.

Icelandic sheep grow dramatically double fleeces. The outer coat is called a tog and is best used for weaving and needle point, though the yarn spun from it is beautiful. The undercoat however is softer and is a favorite for knitting and crocheting. The fleeces are easy to wash and dry and separating coats is simple. When shearing, the longer top fibers are set into one pile while the softer undercoat is set in another.

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Icelandic Ram Lamb ~ about 3-4 months old

Merino is by far the most recognizable breed of sheep here, because it is on a lot of yarn labels. It is a super fine wool and is best for next to skin wear. It is soft and nearly always white. There are several different breeds of Merino sheep, each in the Merino category. Most were bred to continue the super-fine yarn but to give larger amounts of fiber. Merino is high in luster. When we talk about the luster of a wool that means the shine of the wool. The scales on the fibers have a lot to do with this. The smaller the scales, the smaller the shine. The bigger, the better the shine. Merino wool has the smallest scales out of any breed of sheep. This is probably why it is so soft. But because of the small scales, the luster factor is more fragmented, giving the wool a matte look.

 

Suffolk are mostly bred for meat and the wool is over looked. But hand spinners have grown to love the fiber as it is soft and bulky. It delivers a beautiful yarn and has good insulating properties.

Shropshire wool dyes nicely, and is excellent yarn for hats, mittens, socks, and casual sweaters. The finer fleeces are soft enough to be worn next to the skin but durable enough for everyday wear.

Lleyn fleece takes dye and shows colors well, with a hint of luster. This fiber is suitable for a range of constructing techniques. Staple length is long and fine. It produces beautifully soft yarns but durable and holds stitches easily.

Thanks to its lovely, fine, long wool fleece, the Blue faced Leicester has become a favorite among fiber lovers. The fiber is fine, silky, and lustrous. The staple length is very long; at least 6 inches. This breed used to be extremely endangered.

Hailing from New Mexico, Debouilletes were developed in the 1920s for a long staple length. The average length is about 3 to 5 inches long. Best known for large quantities of fine, soft, and highly crimped wool with elasticity and resilience.

Soay sheep produce a good fleece ranging from black to dark browns and light browns. The average staple length is 1 ½” to 4”. This sheep sheds its fleece naturally and is easier to spin when carded.

The process of removing a fleece from a sheep is called shearing. This procedure is mainly done once a year though some breeds require shearing twice a year, like the Icelandic sheep. A practiced shearer can remove a fleece in about two to three minutes. The tool used for this job is called the shears. It looks like an electric hair buzzer, but much larger. It is an electric device and constantly requires shearing oil to keep the cuts smooth and swift.

“The shearer makes precise strokes with the blade so that the fleece is preserved in the exact arrangement in which it grew on the sheep’s back.” (Parkes 24)

Washing the fleece is one of the most tedious parts of the yarn process. This requires constant patience and willingness to get a little wet. There are two different types of washing method for spinners. One is the hot water method, the other is called spinning in the grease.

When washing wool in hot water and soap, never ever agitate it. This will cause the wool to felt and become nearly impossible to spin. (this is why it is so tedious.)

“Gently fill a bathtub, barrel, large cooler, or a metal wash pan with hot water. Not boiling, just hot to the touch. Add about a half cup of Dawn dish soap or Orvis to the water and allow the suds to develop.” (spinning web.)

Add your fleece to the water and gently push under the suds. Let it sit for twenty minutes and then carefully pull it out from the bath. Lay down thick bath towels and set your soaking fleece on them. Softly press the top of the towel onto the fleece until the fleece is mostly drained of the water. Set fleece on a drying rack to wait for extra water to drip off. Refill the tub with hot water and add more dish soap. Re-soak the fleece until the water comes clear. Do not be discouraged if there is still debris in the wool. This will come out later when you card and spin.

Spinning in the grease is probably my favorite method of washing wool. It doesn’t require hot water or soap. You’re probably wondering, “Then how does the wool get clean?”

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It does get clean, but in a different way. There are special properties within the fiber and one of them is called lanolin. It’s the same stuff you find in cosmetics and lotions. It is a yellow grease. Its purpose is to mix with the wool and become a waterproof seal for the body. That way when it’s raining out and the sheep gets wet, the lanolin repels the water, keeping the wool close to their skin dry and warm.

Because of the lanolin in the wool, the sheep’s fleeces are usually greasy and sort of sticky. The lanolin may sound gross but it’s actually very good for your skin. In this process of washing wool, the way it is washed will leave the lanolin in the wool. This makes spinning very easy and you get smoother, faster draws. I prefer spinning in the grease over the hot water method because of the lesser likelihood of felting when washing. Hot water makes wool felt better and cold doesn’t.

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Soak the fleece in cold water for ten minutes. Wring out gently and place on a drying rack. Wring out several more times with a soft pressing motion. Drain and refill bath again. Let fleece soak as many times as needed until water comes out clear. Set, wring out, and dry on drying rack. Drying may take several days. Place a fan underneath the rack to speed up this process. After the wool is dry, the next step is picking.

Picking is just what it sounds like. You are going to be picking through the wool. Select and discard large pieces of debris, pull apart and fluff up matts, and discard pilled or second cuttings from the fleece. This is basically another activity in cleaning the wool and makes a huge difference in the quality of yarn that you will be spinning. Try and do some of this before washing the wool. It will help the washing method to be more efficient and save you time later.

Carding wool is fun. Carding is combing the fibers like you would when combing your hair. It aligns them up, removes debris, and makes them easier to spin. You can use a machine carder called a drum carder or little hand combs.

For drum carding, select an amount of picked wool to card. Set the packer brush down onto the drum and secure it. Place the wool at the mouth of the carder and use the crank to feed the wool onto the teeth of the drum. Keep cranking until all the wool has collected onto the teeth. Add more wool until it is full. Keep cranking until wool is carded thoroughly. Remove the wool with the doffer tool and re-card the carded batt if desired.

For hand carding, use the carding combs to create straight and aligned fibers for easy spinning. “Place the left handed carder in your lap and align the teased wool along the face of it. Take the right hand carder and comb downward pulling the fibers straight. Transfer the fiber back and forth between combs until fiber is carded.” (Knoll 12)

Now you’re ready to spin!  If you are using a drop spindle, take out your carded wool and hold it in your dominant hand. Attach a leader piece of yarn to the spindle. (a leader yarn is the foundation piece that your yarn twists onto when first beginning. It secures the yarn onto the spindle.) Twist the spindle with your hand and allow the roving to gently wind onto the leader. Keep spinning until it is well spun. Wind the spun strand onto the shaft below. Keep spinning the whorl until desired amount is spun.

When spinning on a wheel, prepare the wheel for spinning. Attach leader to the bobbin and feed through the flyer hooks and the eye in the orifice. Allow several inches of a leader tail to come out of the orifice. Check to see if the drive band, flyer pulley, and bobbin pulley are all in the right places.   Place your foot on the pedal and turn the wheel once or twice to the right. Push with your foot to keep the wheel going. Fray the ends of the wool roving with your fingers and place along the yarn leader. As the leader twists, the roving should catch on and be pulled into the orifice. Keep the twist in the spun strand above your fingers. Allow the wheel to gently pull the yarn in. Keep feeding it when it is spun well. Draw with the lower hand and keep the upper hand moving down with the twist. Spin the desired amount onto the bobbin.

bobbin

Now for the finished product. If you chose to do a single ply yarn, then gently unwind the yarn from the bobbin and onto your arm. Wrap it over the palm of your hand and then going down your arm, wrap it under your elbow and back up again across the palm. Keep doing this until all the yarn is off the bobbin. Snip the end of the leader off the spun yarn and then weave in the ends carefully into the skein. Carefully test the skein by holding the entire thing by the loop at the top. If the yarn twists a certain direction twist it in the opposite way with both hands. Keep twisting the entire skein until it is in a long, thick, twisted strand. Fold over and feed one of the loops into another loop. Adjust the twist until you have a neat hank of yarn.

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Have you ever felt the “prickle” of wool before? Maybe it was a scarf that was just super itchy. The reason for the itchiness and prickliness in some wool is that, if it’s a long piece of fiber, it is most likely going to have an irritation. “Thicker fibers don’t bend as easy as thinner fibers.” (Ekarius, Robson 9) This results in an itchy and even prickly sensation. It is said that woven fibers are softer and less itchy than knitted ones. “Also, an Australian study states that women are more skin sensitive than men.” (Parkes 8) If you are skin sensitive to wool, choose a smaller scaled, softer yarn blend like Merino wool.

Some people are allergic to wool. Their skin reacts to that favorite sweater they always wear and finally, it is too annoying to keep on. The allergic reaction to wool is very rare, but when it does happen it is considered that wool itself is bad for your skin. Some people who are allergic to wool may not be allergic to the wool, but to the lanolin that is within the fibers. Usually the scales on the wool fibers are what causes the irritation, rather than allergy. But even so, the allergic reaction to wool has not been completely proved.

 

Fiber at the market is great, especially when you find a good deal. Buying raw fiber or yarn is an experience every knitter or spinner must take. Say you are working on a camping sweater and you want it to be rustic, durable, and made of high quality yarn; particularly homespun. To find the real thing, you must look for these simple signs in the yarn.

Look for the spinner’s trademark; a wispy piece of unspun wool amongst the yarn strands. This is very noticeable in some cases. Feel the yarn. Is it perfectly even throughout the entire skein? If not, it is probably handspun. Handspun yarns aren’t completely even and this is what makes them so wonderfully unique. Ask the seller or vendor about the yarn. Look at the tag. Does it say where and what it is made of? Some yarns specify that they are homespun. Others may not, so in this case, identify the yarn as homespun with these simple tips.

The fun of yarn doesn’t stop here. Spinning it isn’t the whole process. Obviously the yarn is for something. Here are the basic crafts that yarn is used for.

Knitting and crocheting yarns is wonderful. These are the most popular crafts in America involving wool and yarn. When using homespun yarns for knitting or crocheting, the stitch gauge is important. Homespun yarns are not always the same size in width and weight so working with the yarn first a little before you start the real project is a good idea. If your stitch gauge is carefully even while you work, you shall have no problem with knitting or crocheting homespun yarns.

Woolen and worsted yarns can be used for weaving. Keep them carefully tight but not too tight. Too much tension isn’t good for the fibers. Weaving can also be done using unspun fibers. Keep the staples long and don’t apply much tension. A single ply yarn can also be durable weaving material.

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Needle point and embroidery projects require a thin yarn, so choose a finer yarn. It can be plied yarn to add strength to the strand. Worsted yarn is preferred, as the tension is great upon the strand when it is being pulled through the canvas for embroidery.

For macramé, the yarn you use should be worsted. It should be smooth and firm and strong. Save the coarser yarn like sisal and hemp for macramé projects. The smoother yarn from corn silk and others can be used for most of the knotting.

Have you ever seen those cute, tiny, and fuzzy animals that look realistic at a fiber fair? They were probably hand felted with raw fiber. Raw fiber felting is so much fun! You get to be free and imaginative with your creations.  For raw fiber felting, choose either carded or un-carded wool. Colors of course play a role in the felting process depending on what you are making.

Materials needed for felting include: foam board, felting needles, raw fiber, (preferably washed.) some water, and a careful steady hand. Needle felting is great fun. There are so many things to make out of the wool

Place desired amount of raw fiber on top of the foam board. Dampen the wool with some water. Begin to poke steadily with the needle into the fiber. Keep all other fingers away from the needle for it is very sharp. Felting needles have microscopic barbs on the tips and are dreadfully painful when pushed through the first layer of skin.

Keep poking until the fiber has fixed itself into a textile flat. Shape with your fingers and needle. Keep felting until desired stiffness is accomplished. Add more water as needed for this helps the felting process. And that’s raw felting!

Next you can also use yarn to felt. This method is a little tricky, especially when it comes to store bought yarns. Acrylic yarns are not made of real wool so these cannot felt. For choosing a nice felting wool, either use homespun or an 100% wool brand of yarn.

Here is a yarn felting craft; a soap scrubby made from a bar of soap and a bit of yarn. Select a relatively large bar of soap and tightly wrap the yarn around it from all directions, like when winding a ball of yarn. Keep wrapping until the yarn on the soap is at least two-three strands thick. Make sure no soap is poking through the yarn. Next, add a bit of water and take a felting needle and felt the end/ends of the yarn onto the other strands. Give the entire bar of a soap a felting with the needle, then place on a soap dish and use for in the shower and washing hands. Over time, the yarn should felt nicely and form to the shape of the soap.

To keep the process of spinning alive, the best way to do it is to learn it. By learning this craft, you may grow to enjoy it. And when you enjoy and love something, you’ll want to share it with others. To share spinning with others, spin up some nice yarns and show them off to your friends or set up a booth at a craft fair. Bring your wheel or drop spindle to the library or to a gathering of friends. Once you learn how to spin, you should be able to spin without looking at your hands. This shows off the incredible art and the enjoyment of it. Offer to teach others how to spin if they show interest. Tell them where you got your wheel or drop spindle and how to purchase one. Keeping spinning alive is wonderful. It helps us to remember the past and what our ancestors did while having fun. Every batt of fiber and every turning spinning wheel is a sprout of life in the revival of spinning.

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Works Cited

Kroll, Carol, The Whole Craft of Spinning. Dover Publications, 1981. Print.

Parkes, Clara, The Knitters Book of Wool. Potter Craft and Crown publishing, 2009. Print.

Parry, Barbara, Adventures in Yarn Farming. Roost Books, 2013. Print.

Robson, Deborah, and Carol Ekarius. The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook. Storey Publishing, 2011. Print.

“Spinning Wheel”. Wikipedia, n.p. n.d. Web. Jan. 17, 2016.

“Hand Spinning”. Wikipedia, n.p. n.d.  Web. Jan. 17, 2016.

Ford, Kevin. Shearing Notes. “Sheep!” 30.  1 May 2009: 1. Print.

 

 

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