Long draw spinner – the world has another one and she was awarded one of my ‘Long Draw Spinner’ rosettes for her skill. This lady made a three hour trip from Yorkshire to learn the ancient craft with me. It only took her an hour or so to master the skill using her own Ashford traditional wheel and then she proved her new found skill on the Great Wheel. Her husband, who is a weaver, took this photo. She is a very accomplished knitter and was wearing a lovely pullover and some seriously nice hand-knitted socks…
Long draw technique is the only way to spin on a Great wheel and to make things more difficult, the draw must be made using the left hand as the right hand is needed for turning the wheel. If people could do this in medieval times I can’t see why so many people think it is difficult today (I recently taught 12 members at the W. Essex guild meeting). This wheel is a replica of the one illustrated in the Luttrel Psalter C1330, which was commissioned by the Luttrel family who owned land near Stamford which is not far from where I live.
I begin to teach long draw by making a thread between two hands. Then we make a thread using a drop spindle – just turning the spindle by hand not necessarily spinning and dropping it.
Next I go on to a wheel and control the twist while the pupil draws the thread so they can begin to feel the plasticity as the fibres attenuate between our hands. It is only a matter of achieving the right balance between fibre and twist before one can feel this stretchiness – I call it the ‘chewing gum moment‘ – and make the long draw – a really satisfying way to spin that makes yarn in timescales to suit out busy lifestyle.
Spin long draw – life’s too short for anything less