Defining Moments 1 & 2 were things I realized near the beginning of my spinning journey. This defining moment came to me in two parts, many years after I learned to spin. Together they have made a huge impact on my spinning. I most often spin using a continuous backward worsted draft twist. I will describe Defining Moment #3 as if I was spinning using that draft twist method.
Part #1: We all hear that we need a light grip on our fibre source. “Pretend you are holding a baby bird.” they say. Which I did. I made sure not to hold the fibre too tight. What I did not translate to my spinning practice was this. The light grip needed to include the “pinch”, or hold, my thumb and forefinger had on the fibre before the twist entered. All the “grip” I need is enough space so as to allow my thumb and forefinger to slide along the yarn as the twist follows my forward hand back to the fibre source. Releasing my grip the teeniest bit, ensures my fingers still make contact with the yarn, but that the twist cannot slip past my pinching fingers, past my front hand and into my drafting zone.
Why such a light grip? Take a look at today’s photo, it will help you see what happens if you have a vice grip on your fibre source. I took a premium quality sliver of Corriedale fibre and loaded some of the fibre onto my mini-combs. Working from left to right are the lengths of fibre that I removed from the combs. If the hand holding the fibre source holds onto the fibre too tightly, that hand acts like a woolcomb. The longest fibres will be pulled out from the fibre source first, then the next longest, then the next and so on. A light touch ensures that the long, medium and shorter fibres are all pulled into the twist at the same time. When spinning a length of sliver, if you find yourself having to adjust your draft length or have a nest of shorter fibres left in your hand at the end of the sliver, this is why. You have too tight a grip on your fibre source.
Part #2: Many of you can probably relate to this……some of my best ideas come to me while spinning, when my mind is relaxed and the thoughts flow. One day when I was watching the twist take up fibres from my drafting triangle, it occurred to me that the drafting triangle we talk about is like the sail on an iceberg. It is the part that we see. The draft on an iceberg is the part that is below the water. What we don’t see. I realized then that the fibre held in my hand, that which we do not see, is just as important as the part we do see, that beautiful drafting triangle we all aim for. I now think of my drafting triangle as having two parts, a sail and a draft. If a nice consistent yarn is what I am after the sail part of my triangle should, as much as possible, have the same shape and amount of fibre in it throughout my spin. The draft part of my triangle should be an extension of that triangular shape. It should not be a ball, wad or thick rope of fibre. It should not have any twist in it. Rather, it should be kept neat and tidy with fibres nicely aligned so it is ready when the times comes for it to move forward to take the place of the sail.
So my recommendation to anyone looking to improve their spinning is to be mindful of: your fibre source hand, the amount of pressure both the back and forward hands exert on the fibre and your drafting triangle’s sail and draft.