7 Tips To Spin A Tighter Yarn

Are you frustrated with spinning your yarn too loosely?

Here are a few easy to make adjustments to your spinning that will help you get more twist and tighten up that yarn!

spinning wheel with close up of bobbin whorls
These are the three whorl choices I have on my bobbins. They are 5:1 (large), 7.5:1 (middle), 10:1 (small). When I need to spin with more twist, I use the smallest whorl.

Cost To Spin Wool takes a look at the cost of handspinning supplies and equipment.

Use smaller whorl to spin tighter yarn

The easiest way to spin a tighter yarn is to use a smaller whorl on your bobbin, which will make the bobbin turn faster when compared to the wheel.

You may have also come across folks telling you to use a higher spinning or wheel ratio, both of which mean the same thing as using a smaller whorl.

For example, moving the drive band from the biggest whorl to the smallest whorl on my spinning wheel takes my bobbin ratio from 5:1 to 10:1.

This simple change will allow me to put twice as much twist in my yarn as I am spinning, if I keep everything else that I am doing the same.

My wheel has three whorls on each bobbin, so there is also a 7.5:1 middle whorl for me to use, if I feel that I only need a bit more twist.

If I need lots of twist, or I am trying to spin a thinner yarn from the get go, I tend to start in the smallest whorl.

When I was a new handspinner, I avoided the smallest whorl like it was poison, I couldn’t do anything with that one, or the middle one. I improved, so will you!

Treadle faster to add twist

Another option to get a yarn with more twist is to treadle faster.

Honestly, this one is harder for me, I tend to have a speed that I like and prefer to adjust the whorl to get the twist I need for the yarn I’m spinning.

However, if you have your drive band set on the highest ratio for your wheel, treadling faster is about all you have left to add more twist.

Looking for a great source of fiber for your next project? Read 7 Best Places To Get Handspinning Wool for some ideas!

Decrease tension a little

You can decrease the tension a little, so the wheel takes in the yarn more slowly which gives you more time to add twist to tighten it up.

For me, there is a fine line between light tension and too little tension where not a whole lot of anything is going on and I’m basically shoving the yarn onto the bobbin.

You’ll need to play around to find the sweet spot for you.

black yarn on bobbin and combed top
This is some Zwartbles yarn I spun as a single. The combed top shows more white than what you’ll end up seeing in the yarn.

Pre draft or split your fiber

Pre draft or split your fiber into spinning size sections.

While this does not have much to do with twist, it will give you less to do while you are spinning so you can focus a bit more on twist, rather than drafting.

If all of your fiber is pre drafted, then all you need to concentrate on while you are spinning is twist and treadling. Two things are easier to keep up with than three.

Difficult drafting is a sticking point that has me getting off track with other things, like keeping the right gauge or amount of twist in my spinning.

When I have to work harder than normal to draft, it takes too much of my attention, so splitting the fiber into easy to use sections makes a big difference for me.

Since it’s easy and quick, why not see if pre drafting or splitting the wool will help you out?

Concentrate as you spin

It’s easy to get distracted while spinning, especially if you like to spin while watching a movie or listening to a few podcasts, definitely what I like to do!

The catch here is that if you are paying attention to any of that video or podcast, you are not completely focusing on your yarn.

Since you are trying to fix a habit, you have to concentrate to make the changes to your spinning and keep them up over the entire yarn.

This is where I slip up, I can do the thing (the new technique or anti habit) for a while, then I stop concentrating and, not so surprisingly, go back to my normal.

These are two yarns from the same fiber mix, 50% grey kid mohair and 50% white Polwarth, that were spun from the fold (top) and worsted (bottom). Both yarns have some under spun areas that show up when plyed.

Check the twist as you go

Ideally, you will have a section of sample yarn right with you that you can check your new yarn against to see if you are actually making the yarn that you think you are spinning.

Stop your spinning every once in a while and compare the yarn you are making with your sample.

The other easy way to check the twist is to measure how many twists per inch. If you are more math minded, this will likely serve you better than having a sample yarn.

Twist per inch somewhat circles back to the sample yarn, since you have to have a number that you are aiming toward to know if you are hitting your goal.

If you just want tighter yarn than you normally spin, measure what you normally spin to get your normal twist per inch then set a higher goal that will give you what you think you want.

You can also stop in the middle of spinning and let the yarn double back on itself to see what you have, twist wise.

If you like what you see, carry on. If you need more twist, adjust something, spin a bit more and see what you get.

Technically Speaking: Twists Per Inch is an article on Spin Off magazine that gets into more of the details of measuring twist in your yarns.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). 

Looking for a great resource on which fiber to pick and how best to use it? Consider getting The Fleece And Fiber Sourcebook, filled with wonderful pictures and details on just about any wool you can find.

Switch to an easy to use fiber

If you are new to spinning, then consider switching to a super easy to use fiber while you are learning to spin a tighter yarn.

If you are preparing your own fleeces, buy some combed top and learn to spin a tighter yarn with a smooth and consistent fiber, then try using your new skills with your own wool.

If you are already using commercially prepared fiber, consider switching breeds. Go with Corriedale if you are new.

I find that some wools work really well for me and others take some to quite a few adjustments to figure out how to get the yarn that I want.

I have also found that as I grow in my experience and skill, my go to wools are changing and I have more options that I’m fairly sure will work.

When I was new, I had to start with wool that I knew worked well for me, learn the technique then move to using the technique on a different wool.

It is also important to note that the easy to use fiber will depend upon how you are spinning, mainly I am talking about wheel or spindle.

When I was learning to use my spindle, I started with Corriedale, since it is so easy to use on the wheel. Sadly, it didn’t work well for me.

I switched to Blue Faced Leicester and using the spindle went much better. I’m still not a spindle fan, so BFL didn’t fix that, but I’m much more capable with the spindle by simply using a different fiber.

In case you need to switch fibers, here is what I had going on with the spindle and why I switched wools.

My main challenge with the spindle was drafting, the Corriedale was just too grippy for me.

The BFL had enough slip that I could draft more easily, while changing nothing else. I certainly didn’t improve my skills that much over the 2 minutes it took me to switch wool!

While both BFL and Corriedale are wonderful wools to use and both known for being beginner friendly, for me and the spindle, the BFL was the ticket.

You’ll find that there are wools that seem to work really well for you and others that seem to be more of a challenge.

The Woolery has a great selection of wools to work with, this is where I order my bulk spinning wool from. They are fast, have a wide variety of choices and good prices.

When you are having a technique issue, go back to your tried and true wool, perfect the technique you want to master.

Then transfer what you learned to the wool you are now working with.

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