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