Spinning coloured wool

The ways of spinning coloured wool

There are a number of uses for wool after it has been shorn from the sheep. One of the most common is to have it spun into yarn to create woven or knitted fabric. This can be done commercially, or by hand in the home. The wool is usually washed, then combed and pulled into rovings, or carded into rolags or batts. Some wool can be spun directly from the fleece if it is open enough.

The devices for spinning coloured wool

Spinning draws out the fibre and puts twists into it. Spinning can be done using

  • a drop spindle
  • a hand turned wheel
  • a treadle wheel or
  • an industrial machine.

The history of spinning

Before the arrival of the spinning wheel in the middle ages, all yarn was spun on drop spindles as a cottage industry. During the eighteenth century there were developments which moved the majority of spinning into factories. Hargreave’s Spinning Jenny, Arkwright’s Water Frame and Crompton’s Mule are the basis of today’s spinning industry.

The best fleeces for spinning coloured wool

Whilst any fleece can be spun, some types are easier than others. Beginners should look for an open fleece with a staple length of 8 to 12 cms (3.5-5 inches). This can either be teased with the fibres almost parallel (semi worsted spinning) or carded (woollen spinning). Suitable breeds for beginners include Jacob, Suffolk, Portland and many crossbreds which are often easier to spin than their pure bred parents.