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Pre-drafting stubborn fibers

I miss El Matchador but I'm rekindling my love for my beautiful little spindles while I'm here in India.

I've noticed that there is a wave of knitters taking up spinning lately and so I have a couple of simple tutorials I plan to post while I'm here, to help the newbie. I'm sure these are "well duh!" items for most people but they have been useful for me so perhaps they will be useful to others.

Today's tutorial will be on pre-drafting fibers that are being a bit stubborn. If you don't know how to pre-draft yet, there are a couple videos here. The process involves separating your roving into strips then gently tugging the fibers, lengthwise, to loosen them up.

I'm spinning some pygora right now, on my 0.9 ounce Golding spindle. The pygora is prepared as a pencil roving, meaning you do not need to separate the roving into separate strips as it's already thin enough.

Pygora spins up beautifully when properly pre-drafted

However, this particular batch has some areas that are a wee bit hard to pre-draft. I think areas have matted ever so slightly in transport, making them impossible to pre-draft the normal way. The solution is as follows.

Break off a length of roving to your liking. I prefer a couple feet of roving, many other people prefer a shorter, more manageable length. Do what you like best.

Attempt to pre-draft as you normally would.

Excuse the awkward photo, I only have 2 hands and no tripod. Imagine I was trying to do that with both hands.

To loosen the fibers, begin stretching the roving side to sides. Gently part the fibers, starting at one end and working up the length of the roving.

When you hit the matted area, spend extra time carefully releasing the fibers. Remember, you don't want to break any of the fibers, just loosen them up.

When you have worked the entire length of the roving, you have something that looks a little like this.

I then like to tug the roving, very gently, lengthwise. This not only makes it a little easier to handle, but it allows you to pre-draft it a little more.

Again, this should really show me doing this with two hands.

When you are all done, you can wind it around your distaff (if you have one) or, as I prefer to do, make a little bracelet out of the fiber, by winding it around your hand.

The finished roving looks like this:

Now just spin spin spin.

Next tutorial will be on achieving a balanced two ply on your spindle.

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Comments (15)

I'm glad you explained pre-drafting. Like TheBon, I split my roving and sort of fluffed it out. This makes more sense. I did an experiment with drum carded fiber and hand carded fiber. The hand carded fiber had some of those section of matted fibers - next time I will know what to do with that and make my spinning easier. Thanks for doing this tutorial!

Thank you for taking the time to do this. I'm a new knitter and am fascinated by the idea of spinning up my own yarn.

I'm just getting started with knitting and am very interested in learning to play with fiber. Thank you so much for the great tutorial. I'm off to order my first spindle.

Hi Marnie:

Love the tutorial - I'm hoping to get a Golding spindle at Rhinebeck! Safe trip.

I appreciate this tutorial very much... and any others you have. Marlene sent me over...she has helped me so much and still is helping me. I'm going to put this info to good use, Thanks!


Thanks for the tip! When I first started spinning, I didn't do hardly any pre-drafting. Now that I do it, it really makes spinning so much more enjoyable.

I rarely predraft. I do tend to split rovings into lengthwise bits though. Great tutorial on how to do it, though!

I'll be sending a newby spindle spinner over to glean what she can from your tutorials. Thanks.

Marnie, thanks! That yummy pygora looks like clouds after you've pre-drafted it. I know I'll be referring to this page very soon!

Awesome! Thanks for peek into the world of spinning by hand.


What a great tutorial!

And your true passion is more than apparent. Here you are half way around the world for your day job and you are offering up tutorials for the fiber addicted amoung us!


Thank you - many pictures can speak many thousands of words!

Im going to come to India and steal your spindle!! lol

Maybe they will have some of those at SAFF. I have always wantd on. My Ebony Greensleeves Vixen comes in a close 2nd though!

I'm adding this one to my linky-dinks. Pre-drafting is so important, and I think it's hard to visualize when you are new. I need to get back on my spindles, but its hard when the wheel is so fun. I think it's important for learning, though.

Have you spun any of that merino tencel we got at Carolina Homespun? I spun about an ounce of it really finely last night, and you don't have to predraft anything. I had this huge hunk in my lap and spun out a thread. It was insane!

Miss you!

thank you so much for your tutorial on pre-drafting - it's kinda all coming together now - your pictures and reference are great! i'm determined to get this spindle spinning down....


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 30, 2006 11:01 PM.

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