Spinning lessons

Last Friday was Anna’s first spinning lesson. She used my Cascade Little Si spindle and some Romney locks I flicked and drafted into roving. It felt good teaching her how to do something I enjoy, watching her work out how to get around the obstacles on their own, and that light bulb moment when it all comes together and she realises it’s working. Sent her home with a puff of yak down, a couple of feet of merino pencil roving, and a chunk of unknown white wool from the fibre stash. Next lesson is plying, when she has enough on the spindle.

I’ve spun several different sheep breeds now. Jacob is the coarsest wool I’ve spun, but I love how the skein came out and it will be great yarn for a winter hat or two. It’s not rough but it’s not great for next-to-the-skin softness. Merino is lovely, but Polwarth and Cormo have more texture and are almost as soft. Romney and Coopworth feel similar, softer than Jacob, not as soft as BFL, but the Romney is a bit more silky. I’d like to try Wensleydale and Cotswold.

The yak and camel fibres I spun weren’t roving, they were clumps of fluff. Spinnable, but it took some adjusting. I have some fabulous alpaca roving that feels like a cross between wool and silk, very slippery. I still have huge trouble spinning plant fibres, I’ve tried cotton, bamboo, and Silk Latte fibre made from milk protein. And pretty much everything I spin has a little bit of cat in there…

What’s your favourite animal or plant fibre to spin?


  1. I have only spun nameless wools so far. (someone said it was romeny but it wasn’t marked) I would like to try alpaca as there is an alpaca farm/ranch nearby that does sell rovings tagged with the name of the animal it came from.

    I was give a gift of bison down but I am scared I will ‘ruin’ it. I have a couple more nameless sample packs to play with and a couple balls of a BFL cross from a colonial days festival.

    I think I will spin up the sample packs and then do the bison. I don’t want the gift to sit too long. Of course now it is summer and everything is sticky. I think I will save spinning for the evenings after it has cooled.

  2. I’ve found that jacob fleeces are pretty variable – some are quite soft, although not so much as merino. Of course, I may be biased because I have a couple of jacobs and I like them as individuals. I have a coopworth and a couple of romney crosses too. Romney also varies widely. I haven’t tried cormo or polwarth, but with your recommendations…..I’ll look around and see. Yak etc I have not tried at all although I do have some camel down stashed away and it is super soft!

  3. It’s really hard to pin down a favorite. I’ve tried to get my hands on anything possible. Merino, Romney, Coopworth, Corriedale, Corrie Xs, Polwarth, Rambouillet, Debouillet, Jacob, Grey Dorset, CVM, California Red, alpaca, llama, silk, wools with silk, cashmere, a bit of cotton (yech), BFL, Icelandic, Icelandic blended with silk or alpaca or angora, and more. I think Corrie and Coopworth are my current faves, but that changes with what’s on the wheel.

    Oh, and North Ronaldsay. Very interesting fleece.

  4. I’ll give you some of my Jacob that I’m processing. I spun a little sample of it the other day and it was wonderful. It was very soft and easy to spin. As for my favorite fiber to spin, I really don’t think I have one. I like them all. However, I can tell you that cotton is my least favorite.

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