We left off yesterday with a rack full of fine strands of roping. Because these ropings currently lack twist, they appear thicker than they will be in the finished yarn. Adding twist to fiber is the key to making yarn -- it traps necessary energy and tension into the yarn, increasing strength and (in most cases) elasticity. The amount of twist you add when making single plies of yarn is very important and can take the hand and behavior of the yarn in different directions. Any amount of twist though, be it a lot or a little, is essential for creating knitable yarn.

At this point, the ropings pictured above are loaded on to the spinning frame where they will be twisted and wound onto bobbins. Some of my favorite objects at the mill are the antique wooden spinning bobbins that have been in use for over six decades. They are beautiful objects in their own right. On this trip I was lucky enough to snag one of them as a souvenir, which now resides on the desk in my studio with my small collection of inspirational objects.

The spinning frame is also responsible for drafting the fiber, which happens just before twisting occurs.  When roping is drafted, it is pulled slightly to open up and lengthen the fiber structure before the single plies are "committed" through twist. The amount of drafting can be increased or decreased at this stage and is also a player in the finished behavior of the yarn.

After the fibers are drafted, a flyer spins and concurrently winds them onto a bobbin. On this machine, the fiber starts on racks high above the machine and works its way down towards the floor, where fully loaded bobbins are collected and shuttled off to the next work station.

A fresh batch of bobbins is a thing of beauty. When all the bobbins are collected into a rolling cart, they are ready to move onto the steamer, which is where we will begin tomorrow. Until then though, a beautiful batch of grey wool!



  • I need some variegated yarn in red, white, and black; and also some
    variegated yarn in green, purple, and gold. the yarn needs to be acrillyc or worsted weight yarns.
    Thanks and GOD bless you,
    Canary LeBlanc
    A+ Baby Crochet.com

    Canary LeBlanc on

  • I add my voice to the others to commend this series. I would like to see photos, though, with more context: what the whole machine looks like in addition to the closeups.

    Jan E on

  • Love this series — gorgeous photographs and interesting material. Heaven for us fiber groupies. Thank you!

    Arla LeCount on

  • So interesting to read and see. You mentioned the amount of twist affecting the hand and behavior of the yarn. You got it perfect with Shelter. I didn’t have a clue how it happens, but while knitting, and with my finished Romney, I just kept thinking what a beautiful hand.

    annie on

  • I love the cliffhanger….

    I hope they let you dive into a big bin of yarn. It seems only right.

    flaky on

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