What’s on the wheel? Or… How to spin woolenish from combed top.

I thought it was about time for me to show you what I’ve been working on.  This is 6 out of about 10 ounces of fiber dyed by Carol Lee.  Mostly it yellow, green, and navy, but there are bits of red in there, too.  The goal?  A 3 ply with a good deal of twist that should make good socks.  Due to the amount of twist I want to put in, I can get away with spinning this semi-woolen (or semi-worsted?   Is that splitting hairs?).  The idea is that I can spin long draw.  When you have kids and a homeschool and a husband and a home business…..spinning time is precious and fast yardage is necessary.  A quickly filling bobbin is just satisfying, you know?

6 oz green/blue/yellow/red combed top

The way this wool was dyed is totally random so even within the same 2-3 inch section there are variations.  Thus I’m not trying to make stripes or anything, just spinning as is and I’ll let it all do what it wants.
Hand dyed combed top

Here I’m holding the end of my first 2 oz length of combed top.  I held the end tightly in my right hand, and pulled, holding the left hand back at least a staple and a half.  I was aiming for 4-5 inches to come off.  Here it is pulled off:
Pulling off a tuft to make a quicky rolag or fauxlag

Next, I drew the fiber out, and fluffed it sideways to make a long flat ‘batt’.  I generally doubled the length, just pulling a bit at a time, then moving a bit down the fiber and pulling again, repeating a few times.

Fiber after drafting & fluffing

Then I roll the top up from one end to the other.
Rolling quicky rolag

Then pull a little tuft fromt the center of your quickie rolag (also known as a fauxlag ):
Pulling starter fiber from center of rolag

And start spinning!
Long draw on Lendrum

All right, yes that is WAY too thick for a 3 ply sock yarn.  I did thin it out considerably after this.  Trying to spin with one hand and take pictures with the other was beyond me, as I do a supported long draw.  Also at that time, my Lendrum was shaking like crazy anytime I got any speed going.  I discovered when unpacking my wheel after Wisconsin Sheep and Wool that two of my rubber feet had come off.  I pried off the other, and now Lizzie spins just great again.  Whew.

Anyway, I did the rolags for about half the first two ounces, and then I just went to spinning a single staple length from the fold.  With the rolag, you have more fiber in there, so you are actively spining for longer, although you are also doing more prep.  I get snatches of time, so to pull off a staple, fold it over my finger, and spin it fits in my schedule.  My quicky rolags also had a tendency to wad up at the end, requiring a bit of re-ordering.

So what have you found works best for you to get a woolenish yarn from combed top?

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3 Responses to What’s on the wheel? Or… How to spin woolenish from combed top.

  1. Saffron says:

    I’m still experimenting/learning what will work for me to do long draw with combed top. I like just folding the fiber in half and spinning from the side. I’ve tried rolling it into a rolag but didn’t like it as much.

  2. asti says:

    Hi – just found your blog 🙂
    Funnily enough, I’ve been playing about with this over the last few days, having just got the hang of long draw. I got some lovely floofy yarn from BFL top, just taking off staple length chunks and spinning from the fold. Was nice and easy to draw (not my most consistent of yarns, but it was my first time). Tonight I couldn’t resist some merino/angora that I’d dyed and tried the same thing..not so easy (what a surprise, eh ;). I’ll give it a go with the quicky rolags and see if that helps. I’m so thrilled to have sussed longdraw….can’t believe how much quicker it is.

  3. Vivian Sahin says:

    It is over a decade since you posted this, and I have been spinning on a hand spindle only since almost that long ago, but only beginning to explore.
    Thank you so very much for this post.
    I searched hoping to see how people spin woolen from a combed top. I was thinking about carding it!
    Your post is perfect. You may, or may not, be surprised at how elated I was to finally, after 9 years, spin the yarn I sought, although I was always happy enough to get whatever resulted, always worsted spun.
    I had ordered this beautiful grey Gotland top from Blue Moon Alpacas. I was hoping to make a vest. But the swatches had no body. They would do well for a scarf maybe or shawl.
    I finally realized I needed a woolen spun yarn, and learned that this is feasible with Gotland.
    Your method worked perfectly.
    I took a bit of top, spread it widthwise, rolled it into your Fauxlag, and the magic began.
    Sorry for going on so
    Thsnk you for generously sharing your experience and knowledge.
    Be well.

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