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 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.