Get Skinny Over the Fold
By: Stephanie Flynn-Sokolov
With this installment of Yearning to Weave, we're evolving our column to include spinning tips and hints. Much like Yearning to Weave, Yearning to Spin is designed to assist new spinners to develop their spinning technique. Stephanie Flynn Sokolov is an enthusiastic and creative spinner. We're happy to have her contributing to our monthly Yearning to… columns. She'll alternate months with Melissa, who'll be returning next month from maternity leave.
If one of your personal goals is to get skinny, why not start with your yarn? One of the easiest ways to spin fine is to spin over the fold. With some faith, trust and twisting dust, you'll amaze yourself with how skinny you can go!
Spinning over the fold is a technique for spinning a staple length of fiber in an indivdual bunch folded over your finger. Fibers three inches or longer tend to work best. This is a simple and friendly way to control fibers that may be a little unruly otherwise. From the fold you can use a long or a short draw to tame fly aways or slick fibers.
If you're fairly new to spinning, your first yarn was probably fat and lumpy. Most likely over time your yarn has become finer, though you may not yet have consistent results for achieving the yarn you want. By gaining command of your tools and use of materials, you'll soon be able to spin the yarn you want when you want it. The best way to achieve this is to learn how to adjust your spinning wheel so that it does a lot of the work for you—I'll talk about this a little later.
Choosing a fiber
What fiber and why? Spinning over the fold is a great technique to use for long, slippery fibers with tendencies to misbehave, like silk, soysilk, flax, or hemp. Try spining over the fold on longer animal fibers where you have first opened the fibers by flicking the ends. This technique works best when the fibers slip easily past each other while drafting and would otherwise tend to float away or blow apart from the crucial area where the twist enters the yarn known as the drafting zone.
If you are lucky enough to have a super huge fiber stash, grab some silk top and raw alpaca. Silk
Columnist Stephanie Flynn-Sokolove pauses for a picture while spinning on her cherry Matchless spinning wheel.
top is available in most shops carrying spinning fiber. If your local shop doesn't carry it, retailers online offer a plethora of beautifully hand-dyed selections. Many people today raise alpacas so it is fairly accessible to most spinners. If you don't know someone who raises alpaca, ask around. I think you'll be surprised.
The Importance of twist
The skinnier the yarn, the more twist it needs to stay together. Every spinner has his or her own style, and as spinners we all have a default yarn—the yarn we spin without thinking. Generally, spinners have a natural treadling speed. Mine is slow, and knowing this helps me adjust my wheel to spin the yarn I am aiming for. My treadling is constant, slow. If I try to treadle faster to add more twist, I set myself up for disappointment. If you want more twist in a yarn, you need to increase the speed of your flyer and decrease the tension on your draw-in. To do this, decrease the diameter (smaller) of the whorl and decrease the tension of draw in. Using the smaller whorl will cause the flyer to spin faster adding more twist to the yarn. Decreasing the draw-in tension will give the twist more time to build up in the