Spinning Workshop March 27th, 2021


Those of us (11 in total) who took part in Fiona Nisbet’s spinning workshop on Saturday had an entertaining and informative day. Fiona began by asking us what type of wheel we all had and what fibres we were going to spin. We considered whether we had a project in mind or whether we just enjoyed spinning for fun.

Carding was first on the agenda, with Fiona demonstrating and explaining about blending. We looked at the staple length of our fibres, discovering that if we wanted a worsted yarn, we would use a long staple, taking out any short bits to reserve for a decorative yarn. If we wanted to blend short fibres with longer ones (eg. Throwsters Waste) we could chop the longer fibres up.

We discussed the various stages when fibres or yarn could be dyed, with Fiona commenting on the subtle colour variations achieved by dyeing Jacob fleece. We then looked at the mechanics of our different spinning wheels, with Fiona giving us an excellent explanation of whorls and ratios, particularly emphasising the importance of producing an evenly wound bobbin.

Having made a selection of rolags, we were ready to begin spinning. We tried the “pinch, pull, slide” method for spinning a worsted yarn, and “pinch, pull and let go” for a woollen yarn, experimenting with moving the position of the pinching to add texture.

We had an excellent day, covering spinning Tops, Worsted and Woollen spinning, Short Draw, Extended Draft, Long Draw and Plying for Art Yarns. Fiona had some lovely ideas for using coarse fibres, including making crochet baskets and bags. She is a very patient tutor, having a wealth of knowledge at her fingertips, and she was as helpful as possible with our novice spinners, despite the restrictions of Zoom. She gave us a lot of useful tips, such as tensioning our Lazy Kates with a cord going over the bobbin whorls for easier plying.  There was plenty of time to ask questions, and Fiona very kindly offered to give us any extra help we might need as a follow up, and I would highly recommend as a tutor for both the experienced and beginner alike.


Text: Liz Carrington