How to Spin Book

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Create With Fibre

How to Spin -

just about anything


a book that actually teaches you how to spin!

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How to Spin - just about anything

Superb value at £12.95 with FREE postage (UK mainland).


ISBN-10: 0956675107

ISBN-13: 978-0956675101

For a flavour of Janet's style of writing and teaching spinning, here is an excerpt from the book:


How to Spin, page 23:

Why spin your own yarns?

I have access to lots of free fibre

I once spun 5 bags full of Qiviut, or musk ox for an Arctic scientist who had collected it whilst working in the frozen North. Most spinners will know it as an incredibly expensive fibre that they buy in tiny quantities - but I always picture it in bin bags cluttering up my living room. The scientist never learned to spin although having access to that much fibre would have been a great reason to do so. Other people have learned, however, when someone has given them a fleece or even dog fur and they didn't want it to go to waste.


How to Spin, page 191:

Spinning fine yarns

Use good quality, very fine fibre

The traditional choice for lace spinning is Cormo fleece. This is not a breed as such but is a way of specially breeding Merino or similar breeds for extra fine fibre combined with a longer staple length.....

Fleece for fine spinning is usually available in small quantities from a specialist supplier by mail order. it can also be bought direct from suppliers in New Zealand, Australia, Tasmania or the USA. The international postage is not prohibitive if you live elsewhere because you do not need much of it. Do not make the mistake of buying a whole fleece for lace spinning. Special fleece can usually be bought by the 100g and will be more suitable for the purpose. 100g goes a long way when spinning lace.


How to Spin, page 58;

Spinning Wheels

Don't make your own - and don't buy an antique

When I teach beginners, I take a spare spinning wheel with me in case someone turns up with a 'tricky' wheel. Often this is one that even an expert would struggle to use; sometimes it will not spin at all because some vital part is missing or very slightly out of alignment.

These wheels are often of sentimental value and inheriting an antique wheel may even be the reason someone wanted to learn to spin in the first place....

Admittedly it is a bit tricky if your beloved has made you a spinning wheel and you have to go home and say 'er, actually I need to buy another wheel, this one is no good'.

Making a spinning wheel is not for the feinthearted and it is said that you need to make between four and seven of them before you get a good one.

Here's a suggestion: if you are attached to your antique or hand-made wheel learn to spin on a modern, professionally made wheel first. Once you can spin use the other one sometimes and you will do better with it. Just don't try to learn on it. The only thing is by that time you may not want to.



"This is an excellent clearly written book that covers all the principles of the basics of spinning. It is written by a well known, well loved and respected practicioner and teacher of spinning in an informative, encouraging and easy to understand style. It is plentifully illustrated with black and white photographs which are clear and helpful. It has a place on the bookshelf of every spinner whether you are a beginner or experienced. If you are a beginner this is the first book I would reccommend that you buy." Debbie (via Amazon)


"I really liked this book. It has things for both complete beginners and for more experienced spinners and it covers both hand spindles and spinning wheels in all sections.

I found the fact that it had lots of photos very helpful and it is broken up in to easy to read sections making it simple to find things.

The explanations are clear and easy to follow and the book is a handy size and paperback making it easy to use.

I have heard that the author teaches some great spinning courses." Anne (via Amazon)

Spinning for low impact living

Very comprehensive book explaining everything from where the fibers come from to how to spin them to yard. Good level of details and tips provided.

Like having a teacher at your elbow

This is the book you need if you are starting to spin either on a wheel or a drop spindle. It tells you waht you need to know to get started and to improve - thnk you - it even got me spinning fine singles on my new wheel within a matter of minutes.

I already spin a little but there was a lot I didn't know. This book gives lots of help. Easy to follow advice and instructions. A good buy

I was recommended this book as I am a complete beginner. It's very early days for me but I can tell you that this book is going to be my constant companion. I can't imagine a more complete guide to spinning for the beginner. It also stretches out to more advanced techniques when you're ready.

What I really appreciate about this book is that it is also a great guide to wool and yarns in general. It introduces you to sheep breeds, fleece preparation, carding and alternative yarns like bamboo etc.

A happy purchase!

A must for all spinners

I have been spinning for a year now and use this book frequently for information.

It explains the steps very well and is easy to look up queries I have.

I would highly recommend this book for all spinners.

Now if you have the time, you can read the following list of Contents from the book and see its extensive coverage:



A brief history of spinning

Home workers

Hand spindles came first

The spinning jenny

Spinning for craft and fun

Why spin your own yarns?

I saw someone spinning

I want a relaxing but useful hobby

I want to meet like-minded people

I want to spin yarns for knitting or other hobbies

I want to save money by spinning my own yarns

I want to spin the fibre from my animals

I have access to lots of free fibre

Equipment: hand spindle or spinning wheel?

Hand spindles

Three kinds of spindle

High top spindles

You only need one spindle

Bottom whorl spindles

Turkish spindles

Other kinds of spindles

Support spindles

Navajo spindles



How to make a spindle

The stick spindle

From an old cd

From a potato and a pencil

From a square piece of wood and a stick

Just a reminder: a high top is a very good choice

Spinning wheels

How a spinning wheel works

Orifice size


Learn to spin before you buy

Get a modern wheel and buy from an established maker

Buy a wheel to suit your lifestyle

Clean the wheel before you use it

Don't make your own - and don't buy an antique

If you really must make your own

The charkha, the great wheel and other point-of-contact wheels

Getting ready to spin: fibre

Try a bit of everything

All fibre is not equal

Pre-prepared fibres: a good place to start

What to do when buying pre-prepared fibres

How to pre-draft for manageable spinning

Check the fibre (or staple) length

Split the fibre before you pre-draft

Pull the fibre apart or it will not work!

Now pre-draft

Practise, practise, practise

Carded fibre

Zigzag a carded batt

How to spin on a high top spindle

High top spindles are easiest to learn on and the most efficient

Practise with a piece of yarn

Make a wrist distaff to hold the fibre

Wrap the fibre around the distaff

How to join the fibre onto the spindle

Emergency measures

Twirl, stop and draft: you don't need to do it all at the same time

How to join the yarn on again if it breaks

How not to get a sore shoulder

How to throw the spindle off the thigh

How to kick the spindle

How to ply 2 or more strands together

Is it essential to ply yarn?

A summary: tips for spindle spinning

How to spin on a spinning wheel

Make sure you get off to a good start

Lubricate the wheel and make sure the bobbins are running free

Practise treadling

Learn to stop and start the wheel with your feet

Get a cone of fine yarn to practise with (pretend spinning)

Adjust the tension

Double drive wheels

Scotch tension wheels

Bobbin lead drive wheels

Practise feeding the yarn in

Pre-draft the fibre

Make a 'leader'

How to join the fibre onto the 'leader'

Take your time: treadle, stop and draft

If you get stuck, stop

Some tips for wheel spinning

Troubleshooting for wheel spinning

It won't wind onto the bobbin

It is getting too much twist

It is too thick

The yarn breaks with an audible snap

The yarn drifts apart

It feels heavy when i treadle the spinning wheel

How to ply on a spinning wheel

Make or buy a 'lazy kate' to hold the bobbins

Put a new bobbin on the spinning wheel

Under-plyed is more likely than over-plyed

Take a sample

How to fix over- or under-plyed yarn

Tips for plying on a spinning wheel

Spin for 10 minutes a day and it will get done

More advanced techniques

How to get different thicknesses of yarn

The drafting triangle

The thickness and length of the fibre

The amount of twist

Spinning from the fold or over the finger

Pull off one staple length of fibre

Holding the fibre

From the fold

Over the finger

More about fibre

Dealing with fleece

How to select a good fleece

Choosing wool for sustainability

Explain what you are looking for

Express your appreciation

Some tips about fleeces

Sorting and washing a fleece

Sorting a fleece

Unroll the fleece


Grade the wool

Spin in the grease?

Do not use raw fleece on your 'best' carders

Not after christmas

Use protection

Washing a fleece

Cold-soak method

Hot-soak method

Fleece that needs special treatment

Types of wool

Use common sense



Cross breeds





Spinning fibre without carding or other preparation

How to card fibre

Are the carders in good condition?

Which fibre is suitable for carding?

Carding technique

Transfer the fibre

Doff the fibre

Combing the fibre

Using a dog comb

Mini combs

Viking combs

English wool combs

How to use viking and english wool combs

Spinning fibres other than wool

If you struggle, blend it

Joining on


How to spin alpaca


How to spin mohair

Using mohair without spinning

Spinning silk

Choose the right silk for the job

Silk cocoons

Silk hankies and caps - stretched out cocoons


Silk caps or 'bells'

Knitting with unspun silk hankies and caps

Silk tops

The solution - start with tussah silk

Join it carefully

Spin from the fold or over the finger

Bombyx mori (b. Mori) silk tops

Throwsters waste

Pulled silk waste

Sari silk

How to de-gum silk


How to spin angora

Rabbits make great fibre pets

Camel and other luxury animal fibres (with hair in them)


Musk ox or qiviut

Yak, bison and cashmere

The hair of the dog - spinning pet fur

'extruded' and other synthetic fibres

Environmental issues

Soya fibre

Milk protein



Viscose and rayon

Recycled fibres

Spinning fine yarns

Use good quality, very fine fibre

Clean that wheel

Pad the bobbins

Slacken off the tension

Use the fastest whorl

Zigzag the yarn on the hooks

Fine yarns on a spindle

Put lots of twist in the yarn

Plying lace yarn

Advanced plying techniques

Peruvian plying

Securing the yarn

Peruvian plying step by step

Navajo plying

A big chain stitch

Navajo plying step by step

Watch that twist

Finishing handspun yarn

Wind the yarn into a hank

Using a niddy noddy

How to wash the yarn

Using handspun yarns

A scarf

A cot blanket

Samples help to get the size right

How to adapt a commercial pattern

How to design your own garments

There is a whole other world out there






Places to visit


"I really liked this book. It has things for both complete beginners and for more experienced spinners and it covers both hand spindles and spinning wheels in all sections.

I found the fact that it had lots of photos very helpful and it is broken up in to easy to read sections making it simple to find things.

The explanations are clear and easy to follow and the book is a handy size and paperback making it easy to use.

I have heard that the author teaches some great spinning courses." Anne (via Amazon)



fig 1: Alpacas are inquisitive animals 20

fig 2: hand spindles 22

fig 3: high top spindle 25

fig 4 bottom whorl spindle26

fig 5: Turkish spindle 27

fig 6: Navajo spindle showing spinning position 29

fig 7: Tahkli spindle with support bowl 30

fig 8: Akha spindle used for spinning cotton 31

fig 9: Debbie's home-made stick spindle 33

fig 10: home-made spindles 34

fig 11: Ashford Traditional spinning wheel with lazy kate 37

fig 12: the parts of a spinning wheel 38

fig 13 a lazy kate 41

fig 14: a niddy noddy is useful and inexpensive 42

fig 15: bobbins vary from wheel to wheel 43

fig 16: Majacraft jumbo and standard flyers and bobbins 44

fig 17: classroom with some modern spinning wheels 45

fig 18: Ashford Traveller spinning wheel 47

fig 19: LouetVictoriaspinning wheel 48

fig 20: Timbertops chair wheel 50

fig 21: Majacraft Little Gem folding wheel 52

fig 22: Ashford Joy folding wheel 54

fig 23: Bosworth book charkha 58

fig 24: spinning on a modern book chakhra 59

fig 25: spinning on a great wheel 60

fig 26: one staple length pulled off a combed top 65

fig 27: splitting the fibre prior to pre-drafting 66

fig 28: the pre-drafted fibre 68

fig 29: a zigzagged carded batt ready for pre-drafting 70

fig 30: twirling practice on a high top spindle 72

fig 31 wrist distaffs with and without fibre 74

fig 32: winding pre-drafted tops onto a wrist distaff 75

fig 33: attaching fibre to a drop spindle 76

fig 34: an 'emergency' join 77

fig 35: spinning on a high top spindle 78

fig 36: winding yarn onto a spindle 79

fig 37: join two fluffy ends to make a firm join 80

fig 38: drafting on the diagonal as opposed to vertically 82

fig 39: throwing the spindle off the thigh 83

fig 40: kicking a high top spindle 85

fig 41: drafting horizontally on a high top spindle 87

fig 42: winding a double stranded ball for plying on a spindle 88

fig 43: the parts of a spinning wheel 92

fig 44: flyer showing oil points 93

fig 45: treadle board viewed from underneath 94

fig 46: foot position on a double treadle wheel 96

fig 47: foot position on single treadle wheel 97

fig 48: treadling with one foot forward and one back 97

fig 49: treadling with both feet together 98

fig 50: flyer viewed from above 100

fig 51: a double drive set up showing flyer 102

fig 52: a Scotch tension set up 103

fig 53: a bobbin lead wheel 105

fig 54: practise feeding yarn into a spinning wheel 107

fig 55: pre-drafting fibre 108

fig 56: leader tied on to the bobbin and ready for spinning 109

fig 57: examples of lazy kates 115

fig 58: lazy kate made from a shoe box and knitting needles 116

fig 59: putting a bobbin on the spinning wheelis easy 117

fig 60: singles yarns in position on lazy kate 118

fig 61: the 'drafting' triangle 123

fig 62: locks of Corriedale and Wensleydale fleece 124

fig 63: pulling off one staple length of fibre from a combed top 127

fig 64: spinning from the fold 128

fig 65: hand position for spinning from the fold 129

fig 66: hand position when spinning over the finger 130

fig 67: hand carders 148

fig 68: pulling out locks of fleece ready for carding 150

fig 69: flicking the tips prior to carding 151

fig 70: locks laid on carder ready for carding 152

fig 71: begin carding the fibre 153

fig 72: transfer the fibre 154

fig 73. doffing or removing the carded fibre from the carders 155

fig 74: finished rolag 156

fig 75: combing fibre with a dog comb 158

fig 76: Louet mini combs 159

fig 77: using hand-held Louet mini combs 160

fig 78: Valkyrie Viking combs 161

fig 79: Majacraft mini combs 162

fig 80: four pitch English wool combs163

fig 81: work with combs at right angles 165

fig 82: combing the fibre 166

fig 83: drawing the fibre off the combs 168

fig 84: combed fibre ready to spin 169

fig 85: using a flick carder 174

fig 86: de-gummed and dyed silk cocoons 176

fig 87: silk cap 178

fig 88: Tussah silk tops 181

fig 89: B. mori silk tops 183

fig 90: B. mori silk brick 184

fig 91: a padded bobbin 195

fig 92: different sizes of whorls 196

fig 93: yarn zigzagged across the hooks of a flyer 197

fig 94: Peruvian plying - make the first loop 200

fig 95: Peruvian plying - the yarn does not cross the palm 201

fig 96: continue until all the wool is on the hand202

fig 97: slacken the yarn that is around the wrist 203

fig 98: the middle finger has been taken out of the 'cross'204

fig 99: Navajo plying - make a large loop 206

fig 100: Navajo plying - two loops 207

fig 101: thread the loop and the loose end of the yarn 208

fig 102: tie them onto the bobbin core209

fig 103: winding yarn onto a niddy noddy212

fig 104: wound yarn ready to tie 213

fig 105: figure-of-eight ties on a hank of wool 214

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