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.  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?

Fluffing

I love to fluff my fiber. Fluffing is just pulling the top or roving horizontally, a little, just teasing it open.  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

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.

Attenuating

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 a  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.

fluff horizontally

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.

Slightly attenuated

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?

 

 

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24 Responses to Spinning Tuesdays: Do you strip, predraft or fluff? I do.

  1. Traci says:

    I do all, but the decision lies with what I ultimately want to achieve with what type of fiber. I don’t believe there is a wrong way.It is kind of like telling people they are holding their knitting needle wrong, wrong for who?

  2. Juliann says:

    This is an excellent teaching blog today. I,too, do all of the above. I don’t see how there can be a dispute among any spinners about what is the “best” method. It depends on the fiber,and as you showed, how it is stored and compressed. Primarily, I love to “handle” my fiber before I sit down to spin. I want to know how it “feels”, and to “know” what will happen when I spin. This will give me a better experience, and will speed up the spinning process. Thank you for today’s blog.

  3. Rose Helmbright says:

    Wonderful article this morning. I do a number of things, first I access the fiber and what condition it is in. And then what am I going to do with it, or what project. From there I will prepare the fiber, be that fluff, attenuate, or predraft. More then anything, I let the fiber in question talk to me. Hope that helps.

  4. Lisa J says:

    Well I didn’t do enough of the fluffing and attenuating but I will now…. Thanks for this post!

  5. Patty C says:

    Great educational blog! I will definately spend more time preparing my fiber,the pictures are really helpful. Thanks

  6. heather says:

    love this post! nobody could have said it better :)

  7. Natalie says:

    I do all of these things, depending on the fiber. I am mostly self-taught, so I just do what seems to work for me. When I’m spindling I find it helpful to have just a little strip of fiber to carry around with me and leave the rest somewhere safe.

    • Savanna says:

      I am mostly self taught as well, and I don’t like to have too much fiber in my hand at a time, it tends to get in the way of my spindle and get wrapped around the fiber that is already spun.

  8. conk says:

    Fabulous lesson today! I spin a lot of silk, and we have come to an agreement: I don’t mess with it, and it doesn’t mess with me, meaning I just spin it as is. Hankies/bells do need a little love, but I don’t draft those fully (Colorado is really dry & staticky and I like to not inhale too much silk!): I give each edge a snap, and then pick a spot to start spinning. I use physics to draft the hankies as I’m spinning (see? You *can* draft hankies while you’re spinning them!): The path from the orifice to my drafting hand is straight, and I use my drafting hand to put a 90 degree angle into the path, and use that angle to draft against. Cotton always gets a fluff, but it’s more of a vertical fluff (hands maybe 2-3 inches apart, and then push the ‘ends’ in your hand together and do this sort of bicycle pedaling maneuver). All other fibers? You nailed it!

  9. Donna C says:

    I’m a new spinner (just bought a cherry Matchless two days ago) so these are great tips for me!

  10. Summer says:

    Great article – thanks for the tips, which are very helpful for a new spinner. I always look forward to your Tuesday posts!

  11. Kit says:

    Thanks for this post. I’m a brand new spinner and was mighty frustrated after our first class. I “accidently” spun beautiful lace yarn (but didn’t know how it happened)…then got into a piece of roving that was very compact and almost impossible to spin. I don’t give up easily, so came home, made a drop spindle, corrected all my overspun yarn, and did about a pound of “park and draft” style yarn production, which helped me to learn to “read” my fiber. After reading your post, I feel ready for my next spinning lesson.

  12. zenitude says:

    Oh yes, I do all of that before I spin. Gives me a last chance to touch and feel the fiber and take joy in the colours before I spin it into yarn. Then I get to fondle it in a whole new way!!

  13. Carol says:

    Amen, zenitude! Fondling your fiber is the way to go!!

  14. Lotsofhermies on Rav says:

    I love Spinning Tuesdays! I always get something out of your posts. I always feel like I am cheating if I do something to my fiber. Thank you Thank you for showing me what kind of things you do with your fiber. Why I was worried about spinning police I will never know. Time to dig out some of those fibers I put away as too hard obviously they just need a little fondling.

  15. Miss Bunt says:

    Thank you so much for the pictures, I needed you last week:-) I’m a new spinner and this has helped me tremendously. I have stripped for colour but still had some compacted bits, now I see I should have atenuated it would have made the spin much more enjoyable – still loved it, it just could have been better.

  16. yarnstruck says:

    I wish I’d seen a post like this when I was a new spinner. Then I might not have had to learn the hard way. :)

  17. Sarah says:

    Yes, I do, too! I am about to take my very first spinning class after a few years of just trying to figure things out on my own, and I can hardly wait!

  18. Savanna says:

    I had no idea what I was doing when I first started spinning. I bought a starter kit off ebay with a drop spindle, and started watching youtube videos. I stripped the fibers to begin with, but I don’t do that anymore. I do however fluff my fiber now, I find it easier to work with that way. So far, I have only purchased natural 100% dorset wool roving. I did try dying some, with kool-aid. It worked out pretty well. The commercial dyes seem pricey to me, but maybe someday. Spinning is something I need to get back into soon, it is kind of relaxing. I don’t have much time for it because I am a full time nursing student with 2 young children. I started a sock project over my last vaca, but that is unfinished sitting on top of the changing table that isn’t used anymore.

  19. brandi says:

    I do whatever is necessary to if the fiber gets compacted.

  20. Miranda says:

    I do all of the above, depending on the fiber and the preparation. I don’t like predrafting either, but have come to appreciate what a diz can do. I run fluffed fiber through two or three progressively smaller diz holes, gently, and the result is yummy, fluffy fiber. It takes practice, but I find it more consistent than predrafting by hand.

  21. JoAnnaSpring says:

    Why is this an issue of contention? Are there reasons not to predraft beyond personal preference? Isn’t there enough division in the world? Can’t we all just get along?

  22. Meg says:

    I’m going to try carding to rolag some globby but beautiful wool that I have. I will let you know how it goes

  23. Thank you so very much for explaining why I was having all sorts of problems the other evening with my long-stashed roving that seemed to want to clump like mad. Now I know why and how I could have fixed it. (I’ve been treating that roving as practice, so I’m not going to fix it.)

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