Spinning Wensleydale

Spinning Wensleydale and keeping the natural curly locks is not difficult, Mandy had been spinning for just one week when she produced this at my last workshop. By popular request the Wensleydale workshop is to be repeated on 6th May at Knuston Hall  – see events.

The idea is to spin one bobbin by simply putting twist into the locks and not over-process it by carding – this can be done either splitting a lock from the cut-end (tail) and joining to another cut end leaving a couple of inches of lock unspun (i.e form a Y where the base of the Y is the top two points of the Y is the cut end split to about half way down) and then joining the YYYYYYs together.

The next task is to spin a second bobbin from combed or carded locks and spin this worsted draw. To do a worsted draw the ends are fed into the orifice lengthwise – like a fish swimming up a rive – and form a flat fan shape at the hand allowing the fibres to be fed in, the fan makes it easier to see the amount of fibre and control the thickness. The singles does’t need to be thick, just strong which is a natural characteristic of a long wool spun worsted anyway. The next task is to ply the two together, then skein, wash and set the twist by hanging with enough weight to effect, but not drag the yarn until it is dry.

It isn’t essential to spin a second bobbin of Wensleydale if you don’t mind it not being pure Wensleydale yarn. If its is plyed with any other singles – or even invisible polyamide thread the visual effect is still good – but this practice doesn’t suit spinners who want a yarn with provenance.