Module 3 Fiber Prep
In this module we're really going to dig into some of the more technical aspects of fiber prep getting and spinning. Someone once said that first you have to know the rules so that you can break them. This is definitely my philosophy on spinning. We'll address the diffrent types of spinning fiber you will most likely find for sale and different ways to approach them. We'll also address " worsted" vs "woolen" prep and my favorite "semi" approach.
Lets start designing some yarn!
Hand Dyed Merino Braided Roving
Dyed roving braids are one of my favorite types of fiber prep to spin from. The fiber had been run through a mill to lay all of the fibers in one direction in a soft chunky rope. I think these are great to learn on because you can easily pre draft the fiber into long ribbon like strips that take some of the work out of drafting while spinning and will let you get some satisfaction out of yarn spinning fairly easily and learn the feel of the twist. I like spinning these in more of a short pull worsted technique because the fibers are already laying in the same direction which works well, however they can also be spun in the long draw woolen style as well for an interesting "Semi " yarn.
Blended Fiber Art Batt
I love making and spinning from blended fiber art batts. This is where different types of fiber are blended together in a drum carder. The fibers are layered and can be spun from any point on the batt. This is one of the reasons I enjoy spinning from them so much is I feel that they offer endless possibilities for controlling the color and texture that you want. I love getting a marbled yarn affect from blended fiber art batts. They are also the easiest way I know to incorporate angelina , firestar and other fun or sparkly textures. Many people also enjoy blending the long curly locks into the batts and then spinning them for a chunky art yarn look. I like to use art batts with a woolen approach to spinning because they are already fluffy and full of air which lends itself well to this more squishy rustic type of spinning.
Hand combed top
Hand combed fibers are when you use fiber combs ( which do sort of look like a primitive weapon) to comb all of the fibers into one direction while keeping them light and fluffy. I would say this would be most useful if you were processing more of a raw fiber or fleece from a rougher state into something smoother that you would want to spin from. This is a pretty old school technique for achieving fibers all laying in the same discretion for worsted style spinning. Now days it's much more common to buy " mill combed top" better known as roving( see the picture above)
The perfect solution for when you want to get serious about woolen or long draw spinning. These little beauties are hand rolled on a blending board into small hand held cigar shaped fiber rolls. You can then easily spin from the center as you pull back with the fibers already perfectly aligned in a spiral. ( I also have a video on DIY your own blending board so it can be a really fun and creative way to get into fiber blending with out breaking the bank.) They can also be made on " hand cards" which look like large dog brushes even though I prefer a blending board.
Worsted vs Woolen
Here is an example of the more compact dense worsted on the left, and the more rustic fluffy woolen on the right. I normally spin some where in the middle.
How the fibers lay:
In woolen there is more room for air to be trapped which adds to the softer texture of the yarn. Worsted yarn has the air pressed out of it and the fibers lay all in the same direction making for a more defined stitch.
Here's the overview of woolen vs worsted spinning. Now the you've seen the diffrent fiber preps you can understand how the diffrent fibers may benefit from being spun in diffrent techniques. Keep in mind while some fibers defiantly seem to behave better worsted or woolen other fibers can be spun different ways for different effects. We'll get more into acutal spinning in the next module.