Peep's Sheep and Rabbitry

Offering quality Icelandic Sheep and Angora Rabbits in a full range of natural colors!


Making a 2-ply Yarn
Begin by spinning two bobbins of spun singles. Place the bobbins into a bobbin rack, called a lazy kate. Some spinning wheel models will have the lazy kate built onto the spinning wheel. Or you will have a separate lazy kate that can be placed anywhere that is comfortable for you. Some handspinners set it on the floor and slightly behind them. You can also use a tensioning devise to ensure that the yarns will run off the bobbin evenly. This prevents high spun singles from snarling on each other and getting tangled.


Put an empty bobbin on the spindle of the wheel, attach a leader, and thread it through the orifice. Tie the two ends of the spun yarn together, slip them into the loop of leader, and tie a knot. Turn the bobbin and treadle in the opposite direction than what was spun to make the singles (counter-clockwise). Adjust the tension a little tighter than when spinning the singles, so that the yarn will quickly wind on to the bobbin when the yarn is released. Hold the two yarns with the backhand and position the forefinger in between them to keep them separated. Pinch the yarn with the front hand as you treadle, and store up the twist. Release the hold and allow the twist to run down the yarn toward the backhand. Follow the twist with the front hand to smooth the yarn evenly. When the front hand meets the backhand, allow the plied yarn to wind onto the bobbin by moving the back hand toward the orifice. Slide the hand back again, and repeat the process. After plying a couple of yards of yarn, test to see if the correct amount of test is being used.

Pull out a yard of yarn from the bobbin, hold it in your hand and let it fall slack. If the yarn twists back on itself it is being over-twisted. If it hangs loosely and holds the twist, the yarn is well balanced.

The character, softness, and strength of the yarn will be determined by how much twist you put into the yarn.


Handspinning is the art of twisting fiber, fleece, or roving of wool, silk, alpaca, angora, mohair, flax, etc. into a continuous thread by using a spinning wheel or drop spindle. The thread can be spun thick or thin, plyed or unplyed, and can later be dyed or left natural. Handspun yarn can be used for knitting, and weaving projects. You can also use unspun fiber for knitting, weaving and felting.

Like many art forms, handspinning can be done in a variety of ways, which makes it so exciting.

Basic Handpinning Techniques
Drafting the Fiber
Drafting is pulling a small amount of fibers from a fiber supply to be twisted.

The methods for drafting fiber will vary depending on the spinning technique being used. Choose one hand to hold the fiber (back hand) and the other hand to draft the fiber (front hand). The front hand drafts out the fiber and pinches it to keep the twist out of the draft zone. The draft zone is the unspun fiber in-between your two hands. Spin at a momentum that will allow you to keep the twist in front of your drafting hand and out of the draft zone.

The size of the yarn is determined by how much fiber is drafted and twisted. Draft a small amount of fiber to spin a thin yarn, and a large amount of fiber to spin a bulky yarn.

The Inch Worm Technique
This technique is one of the first techniques learned by a beginner, because it teaches the basic skills of handspinning, namely drafting. Choose one hand to hold the fiber and the other hand to do the drafting. Begin treadling the wheel at a comfortable speed. With the drafting hand, pull out a small amount of fiber forward, toward the orifice, from the fiber hand. Pinch the fiber with the drafting hand until the twist stores up in the yarn in front of the drafting hand.


Then release the yarn and slide the hand back and pull more fiber from the fiber hand and repeat the process. This is a good technique for spinning woollen yarns.

The Long Draw Technique
Here is one of several variations of this technique. Before using this technique, your fibers must be well carded and carefully prepared, so that the fibers draft easily. You hold and draft the fiber using one hand. As you treadle the wheel, gradually pull your hand back away from the orifice allowing the fibers to draft out. Keep the twist in front of the hand. After extending out to a comfortable position, allow an adaquent amount of twist to set in, move your hand forward and let the yarn wind onto the bobbin. This is a good technique for spinning a soft airy yarn.

The Worsted Technique
This technique is used for spinning strong durable yarns for projects such as warp for weaving and outer garments. The hand holding the fiber drafts backward away from the orifice while the other hand pinches the fiber to store the twist. Then you slide down the yarn with your thumb and index finger and press out the air trapped between the fibers.

Spinning From the Fold
Beginners may find it easier to spin from the fold when spinning long staple and slippery fibers, like angora and silk, instead of spinning from the end of the fiber. Fold a lock of fiber evenly over the forefinger of the back hand, and keep the ends tucked in the palm of the hand. Draw a few fibers from the center of the folded area, and make the join from this point. Continue drafting the fibers from the center of the lock. You can also draft the fiber from the tip of your finger as an alternative.

2012 • Devin Henlsey