Yarn Spinning Terms - Fiber Spinning Glossary

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Yarn Spinning Terms - Fiber Spinning Glossary

When I first showed interest in spinning I started in a drop spindle and eventually moved to a spinning wheel. I picked up terms as I went and googled individual ones when I was confused, but it would have been nice to study a beginner's glossary of terms. Below I have compiled a glossary list for you that is related to spinning.

I have added the bare basic info for spinning that I feel everyone should know. I placed this before the glossary. Leave a comment if I forgot something!

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 Bare basics of spinning: Folks typically will spin 'singles' or a single ply yarn, and then ply it together into a two-ply yarn. You must spin your singles in one direction (both going the same way) and then ply them together spinning the opposite direction. This makes them twist around each other and hold together. This concept is the same whether you are using a spinning wheel or a drop spindle.


Wool/Yarn/Fiber Terms:

Batts - Hunks of fiber as it comes off of a drum carder. It looks like a blanket of sheet of combed fiber

Braid - Long lengths of ready-to-spin fiber that is braided to allow for easy storage or shipping.

Merino Wool Braid Dyed with Easter Egg Tablets

Crimp- Texture of your fiber. Like human hair, sheep fleece can be curly, wavy, or almost straight.

Draft- The action of separating or pulling apart the wool/roving in order to make it thinner. How thin you draft will impact how thin your yarn becomes.

Leader- yarn used to start a spinning project. You can either use a scrap of yarn, or roll roving on your thigh so it is strong enough to support the weight of the spindle.

Plied/Ply- Two or more strands of yarn that have been twisted together in the opposite direction.

Rolag - A 'tube' of wool, typically created on a "blending board". Makes beautiful artistic blends that can be spun.

Roving- Long tubes of fiber that have been cleaned and carded and is ready to spin. Often purchased as "braids"

Newly dyed roving

S Twist- Yarn spun to the left, or counterclockwise

Single- A yarn that is a single strand.

Spinning a single

Staple length- Length of the individual fibers in your roving. Merino wool has a short fiber staple, whereas a Wensleydale fleece has fibers that can be a foot long.

Wraps per Inch (WPI)- A way to measure the diameter of handspun yarn without knitting a swatch. Wrap your yarn around a WPI tool or a ruler, and measure how many times you can wrap your yarn in a one inch increment.

Z Twist- Yarn spun to the right, or clockwise


Tool Terms:

Blending Board - A wooden or plastic board with brush-like fabric. Used to blend wool together and comb it into the board in order to make rolags of wool that can be spun.

Bobbin- This is the cylinder that holds your spun yarn on a spinning wheel. Think of a sewing thread bobbin (or holder), but much larger.

Carder - Brushes used to smooth or straighten fiber for spinning. Creates "Batts"

Cop- Name for the yarn wound onto your spindle.

Drop spindle- A spindle that spins in the air, and held up by spun yarn attached to your fiber supply. Also called a suspended spindle.

Drop Spindle with Turquoise Yarn Single

E-Spinner - An electronic spinning wheel that uses power to spin rather than a treadle (manual foot pedaling). May start and stop via a foot pedal. Spin speed is often adjusted via a dial.

EEW 6.0 eSpinner Photo

Flyer - This is a part of a spinning wheel. It spins around the bobbin and assists in spinning the fiber and spinning the yarn onto the bobbin. You will typically see this spin very quickly around the bobbin on a spinning wheel.

Hackle - A comb (typically mounted on a table) for brushing and blending fiber. You can layer and brush the wool onto the hackle and then pull off into long ropes to make into braids

Niddy-Noddy - A tool that you can wind your yarn on to automatically measure the length. A 2-yard niddy-noddy means you can count 2 yards of yarn per cycle. 40 cycles = 80 yards. Comes in several lengths.

Niddy Noddy Photo

Supported spindle- A type of spindle that spins on a surface, like a cup, bowl, table, or the ground. This works particularly well for fine, short-stapled fibers such as cashmere or cotton.

Suspended spindle- A spindle that spins in the air, and held up by spun yarn attached to your fiber supply. Also called a drop spindle.

Treadle - The foot pedal on a traditional spinning wheel that turns the main wheel

Whorl- A spindle’s whorl can be at the top, bottom, or in the middle of the shaft. The placement of the whorl can effect the spin of your spindle.This is what looks like a 'wheel' on most spindles.

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