This post is a nod to my friend Marjorie, who nudged me to present this topic sooner rather than later. Yet another defining moment for me was when I realized I did not need to spin from a fibre preparation just the way it came. Many spinners tout that you do not need to strip your fibre prep down to thinner widths at all before spinning….you just need to “learn to spin across the top”. And they are absolutely right. I do not need to strip the fibre prep down into thinner widths, however….I may want to. (Again, because I am primarily a worsted backward draft girl, this comment is in reference to fibre prep spun with my signature or default draft method.) Stripping the fibre prep down to thinner widths results in a less dense singles and if I attenuate or pre-draft the fibre, the singles become even more lightweight, less compact and have a bit more loft. When spinning for a shawl, if I so choose, I can get the best of both worlds…incredible drape from a forward worsted draft and a lightweight airy yarn by my attenuating and stripping down the width of the sliver. See photo below of white BFL with coloured Shetland edging.
A fibre prep that is neat and tidy translates to a tidy, neat singles. To keep the fibre neat and tidy a silky, smooth cloth on your lap will prevent wisps of fibre from catching on your clothes and pulling themselves out of alignment as you spin. Or you can use a bowl or a distaff to support your pre-drafted fibre.
Another thing I have realized since I began spinning is that sometimes I should consider spinning from a woollen rather than a worsted prep. So one of the pre-spin folded or ply-back samples I make examines yarn spun from a woollen vs a worsted prep. Every so often I am totally caught unawares, finding a nicer worsted spun yarn will be had from the fibre I am working with if I use a woollen prep. By the same token, sometimes a worsted prep is a better choice for some of my woollen spins. It all depends on the characteristics I want in my yarn and in turn the finished cloth.