I love to learn. I take lots of spinning classes and read as much as I can about spinning. Filling my brain with knowledge and my hands with skills is one of my favorite things, I’m an information packrat.
I’ve noticed a big item of contention among spinners and spinning teachers – predraftng. Predrafting includes striping, fluffing or attenuating commercially prepared fiber, to spin just a regular yarn, not a textured, fancy or art yarn.
Most of the time the sides are: always or never. My thoughts lie somewhere in between with, “it depends”.
I spin mostly commercially prepared fibers that are dyed by fiber artists in small batches.
There is nothing I love more than spinning a fluffy just shake and spin roving or top.Â Shake and spin fibers are ones where I can do just that, pull them out of their braid or bag, give them a shake and spin away without a hitch or a clump.
I would say 30%-40% of the fibers I spin are shake and spin worthy. There are many factor that go into the fluffiness of a roving or top, including the quality of the roving or top before it’s dyed, how the fiber is handled when it’s dyed and dried, how the dyer stores it & how long it sits around as stash.
Sometimes fiber gets compacted, sometimes the fiber seems just too big, sometimes I want to alter the color, sometimes I just want to touch it before I spin. Depending on the fiber, the yarn I want and my mood – I almost always fluff, usually strip and occasionally predraft.
Why and when you ask?
I love to fluff my fiber. Fluffing is just pulling the top or roving horizontally, a little, just teasing it open.Â I fluff fiber when it seems closed, maybe it sat squashed in my stash. I also fluff to get to know my fiber. As I fluff down the top or roving I notice any lumps,bumps or vm in the fiber (and remove them), study the color changes and decide if I want to strip the fiber.
Stripping is dividing fiber vertically. First let me say that I never strip my fiber to the size I want my yarn. Yes, I said never. If I strip to size there is no time or space to draft my fiber. Stripping to size only allows for adding twist. Drafting is what makes my yarn what I want it to be. I have to draft it forward to get the smooth of worsted and draaaaft it back to trap the air for woolen. It just doesn’t work for me when I strip fiber to the size I want my yarn.
I do usually strip my fiber to control bulk or color. By bulk, I mean, I just don’t want to hold the whole roving or top in my hand. Sometimes it just feels unwieldy, sometimes it makes my hands sweat. So I divide the fiber in half lengthwise and carry on.
With variegated tops or rovings I control color by stripping or not stripping in a couple of ways. If I want long color runs, I don’t strip and do my best to draft the fiber back and forth across the tip of the fiber like a typewriter. If I want shorter runs of color I will strip the fiber in half or more.
I like to combine colored tops and rovings by drafting 2 or 3 together at one time. To do this without losing my grip (or mind) I strip to a one or two-fingered width depending on how many I’m holding together.
I don’t attenuate often. I do this only when a fiber is compacted and just fluffing alone won’t turn it into a lovely, lofty fiber. For me attenuating tops or rovings is a lot like stripping to size – it removes the space for drafting. But when aÂ fiber is compacted, it can make the difference between fighting the fiber and happily spinning.
This week I had I fiber in my hand that I wanted to spin that had been squashed and compacted. Take a look at what I did.
Compacted and after fluffing and predrafting
This is a before and after. The fiber on the left is the before. If I had tried to spin this as is, I would have said a lot of words, none of them nice. The fiber isn’t felted, but it’s compacted and there would have been pushing and pulling and overtwisting while I tried to spin it. The fiber on the right has been fluffed and attenuated, slightly. A dream to spin. It looks like it’s taken a big breath of air.
First I fluffed it horizontally, all the way down. Sometimes this is enough. But this fiber is compacted enough that I can see each spot where I fluffed the fiber. It needs more work.
Then I attenuated slightly. With my hands a staple length apart I pulled gently, just until the fluffing wibble-wobbles smooth out.
I know which one I want to spin
Here’s a different view of before and after. The predrafted top is fluffy and smooth, easy to spin and rescued from the wrath of a frustrated spinner.
When doo you fluff, strip or predraft your fiber?