Spinning: The Woolen and the Worsted

This past Saturday my spinning group took a field trip to The Spinning Loft.

One of our group of our group is in the market for a new wheel, so we piled 6 spinning women into an SUV big enough to hold 4 Schacht Matchlesses in the way back. We may have sung the Partridge Family theme.

Surprisingly, our wheel shopper isn't buying a Matchless.

While our wheel shopping spin sister tried wheels the rest of us shopped and spun.

I feel deeply in love with this Yarn Hollow roving, 50% Cormo/50% Alpaca.

You cannot deny my love.

My question to the room was – how would you spin it, woolen or worsted?

The room answered, annoyingly, with another question, “What will you make with it?”. I have no idea. I’ve just hit first base with this fiber, I’m not ready to commit.

So I sampled. Yes, you heard me right, I did what the books and teachers all recommend, sampled. They are very wee samples, but samples all the same.

Boy are they different:

Woolen on the left; worsted on the right.

The samples were spun from a short length of fiber that I split vertically, so I was working with the same colors on both. They are both soft, but the woolen spun on the left is lofty and puffy, and softer than the worsted spun. It brings out the best qualities of the Cormo. The worsted spun is smoother, shiny and has a heavier, drapey hand. The colors are darker. It looks and feels more like the alpaca part of the fiber equation.

I like them both, and of course, the wee samples raised more questions, among them: What type of stitches would I use, both lace and texture would look crispy and shiny-fabulous in the worsted. But the woolen would give them a soft almost blurry look.

I decided to spin the fiber woolen. I like the soft look right now and I can spin woolen much faster than worsted. I also decided that I will sample more often.

Our wheel shopping spin sister decided on Majacraft Suzie.

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Jillian is the​ author of the best-selling spinning book Yarnitecture. She is the editor​ of Knittyspin and Developmental Editor for PLY and PLY Books. She kinda loves this spinning thing and wants everyone who spins to love it too, so she teaches and writes a lot. She knits, weaves, and stitches and tries to do as much of it as she can with handspun yarn. She's always cooking up all kinds of exciting and creative things combining fiber arts. She likes her mysteries British, her walks woodsy, and to spend as much time as she can laughing. Spy on her on her website jillianmoreno.com

13 thoughts on “Spinning: The Woolen and the Worsted

  1. Deborah Robson

    Isn’t sampling FUN? It seems like it should be a chore, but then it ends up revealing all sorts of fascinating things that would otherwise be unexplored mysteries.

    Sampling is like tasting chocolates. Then you can buy a box of the kind you like best.

  2. quiltnut

    The Spinning Loft is my home town shop….I visit regularly. You can always find something that you just NEED to have. Sampling is just a necessity. The hand dyed is exceptional….they have a great eye for color.

  3. Gina

    i knit but don’t spin…what’s the difference? i mean i can see the difference, but how’d you do it?

    1. Jillian

      Gina – the difference is how the twist enters the fiber fluff. Twist is what makes fluff into yarn. If you let the twist take the lead and go into the fluff first it creates a fluffy woolen yarn. If you take a more controlled approach to letting the twist enter the fiber it creates a smoother worsted yarn.
      That’s just the basic-y basics!

  4. Iris L

    Just looking at the unspun fiber, it looks like it would be so pretty and fluffy spun woolen. I really like how the swatches turned out.

  5. Leah

    I’ve never spun before but my local yarn store recently added a wheel (handmade by lovely owner’s wonderful husband). Can’t wait to try my hand.

  6. Priscilla Owens

    both swatches have their own character – I would think that the preference between the two would be what the finished piece will be and the best “look” considering the stitch pattern. I like the “wilder” appearance of the woolen.

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