fat and thin

one thing that i’ve noticed since starting spinning, is that a person considered a good spinner is one who can spin a consistent thin yarn. when i went to SOAR, this became 10X more magnified by the number of spinners who spun primarily thin yarns. people complained about 5 oz of homework spinning we had while there, but really, they could have just spun it all fat and been done with it. for many, this was not even an option.  there was even a class on how to spin lofty fat yarns – you know, like you spun back when you first began.  apparently it’s a hard place to get back to.  all that said, i got to thinking about why thin and why not thick – here are some of my theories…

newly dyed and spun bfl
spinning fat and thin

when you first begin spinning, thin yarn is great because it takes so much twist you actually have time to draft and then draft again before your spindle starts to protest or your wheel yarn gets overspun. i always try to get my beginning spinners to spin thin – it’s especially helpful on a spindle, which might start going backwards.

if there were a default spin, this would be it. relaxing, not paying attention, letting your hands do all the work. once you get thin as your default, you don’t have to expend much energy while spinning.

unlike with spinning fat, you can create whatever fatness of yarn you want from thin yarns – 2 ply, 3 ply, 4 ply.

spinning fat and thin

because there is less twist in the fat yarn, i believe that discrepancies in the yarn show up way better. which explains why the judge at the fair thought gwen’s very nice fatter yarn was ‘novelty.’ i imagine that since the yarn is loftier and you can see the thick and thin spots better, plying can even that out a bit. so a master at spinning fat consistant yarns? gwen rocks.

most people have to pay much more attention to spin fatter yarns. although i must say, they do go faster.

so. in my opinion, a good spinner is someone who can do what needs to be done with the yarn. if they want the yarn to be fat and lofty (and the fiber type will let them), they can do it. if the yarn needs to be sock weight, they can do that. they know the proper amount of spin and how to prep. it’s like a range in music when you’re a vocalist.

i spin pretty well dk up to bulky, but thinner, not too good yet. mostly because i don’t have the practice. i will want handspun socks at some point though, so fingering-sport weight, here i come! what’s your spinning range?

lastly, don’t forget, the spotting local woolies contest ends on thanksgiving… and have a good one!

4 thoughts on “fat and thin

  1. I agree and disagree with a lot of your points. I definitely agree that once you go from fat to thin, it’s hard to go back to fat. But, it takes so much more concentration for me to spin thin than thick. Also, I find that unevenness looks more obvious and sloppy in a thin yarn than a thick. For some reason when you have unevenness in a bulky yarn it’s cute, but in a fine yarn it’s just messy.

    As for spinning range, I can do super bulky really well. I’m getting a lot better at worsted weight, but they often end up on the heavy side. Anything lighter than that I cannot do. I’ve really been trying to focus on my fine yarns but they always end up harsh, hard, and too tight. Always a learning process!

  2. I find that my “default yarn” is tightly plied worsted weight 2ply yarn or a cushy worsted single- because its what I like to knit with. While I admire those who can spin lace weight yarn.. its not something that I strive to spin myself- mostly because I don’t knit lace! I don’t understand the thinking among some spinners that you have to spin thin yarns in order to show your skill, or that spinning something that “looks store bought” is something to aspire to.
    The ‘fatty’ handspun on the left is GORGEOUS.. I’m trying SO hard not to get into dyeing my own fiber but seeing your beautiful roving always makes it hard to resist!

  3. I’m still very much a beginner spinner (and I only have a drop spindle), but I found this post very interesting! At first my yarns were turning out very bulky. After I started getting the hang of drafting, I’m getting them much finer, but they turn out too “hard” (maybe overspun?) a lot of the time. I feel like I don’t know how to control the weight of the yarn I produce, so I just take whatever comes out. I have so much to learn!

  4. My default spin seems to be to a three ply thin sportweight to heavy fingering weight.
    I generally get around 300 to 330 yards to 4 ounces of fiber. Considering I mostly knit socks, that’s not surprising I guess. It’s interesting trying to spin thicker. I haven’t tried with my new wheel but the last time I spun thick was some neppy merino that was not going to be a happy camper thin and I spun that on the Babe wheel.
    My first skeins on the Mazurka were aran weight but I had to fight to get them that thick because the fiber wanted to be a chunkier yarn, but the wheel wanted to spin thin.
    I was much happier when I got to spin thinner on this wheel.
    I would love to be able to spin singles that are balanced. Haven’t been able to do that yet.

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