New to spinning: Is Jacobs wool good to learn on?

Hello!! I have been an avid knitter for many years!!
A few years ago I got a drop spindle, but unfortunately it got piled under bags of yarn and projects, and forgotten!! Recently I had gone to a spinning demonstration and enjoyed it!!
Well today I was really blessed and was given a spinning wheel for Christmas!!!
I want to learn to spin and not let it fall to the side like my old drop spindle!
So I joined this community, and will look into lessons!!
Finally to my question!!!
I have Jacobs wool, and several bundles of other wool, but am not sure what kind it is?
Will the Jacobs wool be a good learning wool?
(I am starting right away with all the online forums/posts/articles/videos I can find)
Thank you so much for any help you can give!!
Merry Christmas!

Hi and welcome!
What a great Christmas present, so much to look forward to.
I’m going to tag @mullerslanefarm for good advice on spinning (among other things).

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Hi @ShaniquaPearl

Congratulations on your new wheel! Do you know what kind it is??

Will Jacob wool be a good wool to learn to spin? Well … it depends.

Frustrating answer, I know, however it is a common one in the fiber arts.

A good fiber to begin spinning with is one that is clean, carded or combed, has a staple length of 3"-5" and a fiber diameter in the 50s-60s.

I am going to assume you do not know anything about fiber (raw, cleaned, carded, combed) so I will attempt to explain the best I can. Feel free to skip any part or ask any questions if you need clarification.

(My background: no national titles or recognition, just have been spinning since late 1990s. I’ve taken wool from raw fleeces to finished product, including dyeing with natural and acid dyes.)

Here we go:

Wool …

raw wool … fresh off the sheep
skirted wool … raw wool that has the undesirable wool (neck, belly, legs, brichen areas) removed.
washed wool … wool that has had the dirt and most of the time the lanolin removed.
combed fiber … wool that has been pulled through special combs to align the fibers in the same direction and to remove any short fibers. This fiber is pulled into strips called slyvers or top and spun into worsted yarns
carded fiber … wool that has been put on hand cards or a drum carder. This jumbles the fiber. This fiber is pulled into strips called roving and spun into woolen yarns.

Fiber can be spun at any step … raw, washed with just the dirt removed (in the grease), washed with dirt & lanolin removed, carded or combed.

It can also be dyed at any step. Before it is spun, after it is spun into yarn or after you have knitted/crocheted/woven the end product.

Spinning …

There are only 3 steps to spinning:

  1. Attenuating the fiber (called drafting)
  2. Putting a twist into the fiber
  3. Putting the yarn on a holder (bobbin)

I prefer to have my students use a drop spindle to get them familiar with the 3 steps.

With drafting, place your hands slightly farther apart than the staple length and gently pull. If the fiber isn’t moving freely between your hands, move your hands a little farther apart.

Check out Abby Franquemont’s youtube videos about spinning with the drop spindle. She is the queen of spinning with drop spindles, hands down

Spinning with a wheel. I hate to do this to you, (but this post is getting long) I’ve described how I start students with a wheel in other threads on this board. I’ll see if I can locate them and post the links here instead of trying to replicate it in this thread.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!!

(found one and just copied it …)

The way I teach new wheel spinners to spin is to first get comfortable with operating the wheel. You don’t even work with any fiber at this point. The object is to work the treadle and develop a rhythm, the wheel’s heartbeat so to speak, so that the drive wheel (aka fly wheel) turns slowly. Anyone can ‘speed treadle’ however you will not be able to draft your fiber quickly enough to create yarn at that quick pace.

Different wheels have different treadle patterns. Some operate better with a quick downward push of your toe when the conrod (aka footman) reaches just past top center. Others like a toe & heel operation. Spending time learning the heart beat of your wheel will show you what the treadling pattern works best on your wheel.

Once you can treadle slowly and keep the wheel moving in the same direction at a slow speed, stop your wheel using nothing but your feet. When you are spinning, there will be plenty of times you will need to quickly stop the wheel and your hands will be full of fiber! Knowing how to stop using only your feet will help you out greatly. Now try to start your wheel, again using nothing but your feet. In a short amount of time, if you are working on just your treadling and concentrating on where your feet are when you stop and start, you will be able to do these actions without thinking. When you start spinning, your mind will be on the fiber and your hands will be busy with that. Having previously developed the muscle memory in your feet of being able to stop and start your wheel will lead to one less frustration as you begin to learn to spin.

This is the part of spinning my students dislike the most because it’s boring … they want to jump directly into spinning fiber. 90% of the time, once they do jump into spinning and get frustrated, they go back to just practicing their treadling. :slight_smile:

Next up is getting used to having the fiber run through your hands and learning the tensioning nuances of your wheel. Once again, we’re not spinning yet.

Remove the yarn that is currently on your bobbin. (Let it come directly from the bobbin. You can wind it into a ball or around your elbow & hand to make a skein.) Next, thread commercial yarn through the orifice, over the hooks & tie to the bobbin. You will want no tension on the brake band at all. Start treadling. Increase the tension on the brake every so slightly by turning the long, white knob (I’m assuming it turns) until you feel the yarn start to move from your hands on to the bobbin. Keep treadling and let the yarn wind on to the bobbin holding onto the yarn with a slight grip.

Keep an eye on your bobbin. You do not want to fill up one end quickly but disperse the yarn over the whole bobbin evenly. To do this, you must stop the wheel and change the yarns position to a different hook.

The reason this step in learning to spin is important is two-fold: it teaches you the tensioning of your wheel and the 2nd frustration beginning spinners have is not letting go of the fiber to feed onto the wheel.

Above all else, Have Fun!

Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Be sure to tag me, ( type in @ and my username should pop up) since I don’t frequent the board that often, which is why @salmonmac always has to tag me! (Thanks again!)

Thank you so much for your response!!
It is an Ashford Traditional spinning wheel!
I was given several balls of roving with the wheel, one was Jaobs wool, and I am unsure of the other kind!
I spent hours watching youtube tutorials and reading countless articles and blogs!!
I haven’t stopped spinning since Christmas!!
I started out with the unknown wool, and it sucked!! I was getting really frustrated and discouraged!
So I switched to the Jacobs wool, and it was amazing!!!
I quickly spun the whole bundle and went and got more from a neighboring farm!!
I now have two skeins of pretty 2-ply grey yarn!!! Well, I think it is pretty, some might not think so! :wink:
I cannot thank you enough for your reply and the videos, I will be checking them out often!!! :slight_smile:

@ShaniquaPearl, with the unknown rovings … start drafting from the other end. Sounds silly but the way the rovings are carded and pulled into roving, one end can draft easier than the other.

Also, you can split the roving down the center or pull the roving side to side to help decompress it.