Learning Long Draw

A very long time ago, what feels like a lifetime ago, I received this delivery…

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Over 4lbs of freshly washed roving…

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From the sheep my hubby adopted for me. This roving has sat, carefully packed away for far too long for one very simple reason: I was kind of scared to attempt to figure out long draw.

I realize that this isn’t the mountain of impossibility that I made it out to be for so long. I was intimidated by it though — where spinning felt wildly freestyle compared to knitting before I learned how, that’s similar to the intimidation I felt with long draw. Short forward and short backward draw are both very accommodating for people who like to feel in control because you ‘inch worm’ along with them to make the beautiful worsted yarns (‘worsted yarn’, not to be confused in this instance with ‘worsted weight yarn‘). Long draw though, you make lofty, airy super warm yarns. And you can do that with one hand! What?! Insanity!

Alas, this type of prep, this roving really calls for long draw and the magic that is woolen spun yarn and thus the fiber waited while I worked up the nerve (for those who don’t know the difference between worsted and woolen yarns and want to know, check out this post!). I over-thought the whole technique for — you know — a couple years. Then finally with a little gentle nudging from friends and a review of the lesson in Drafting from Worsted to Woolen on Craftsy, I grabbed some of that special roving and I just went for it. And you know what…

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It took me about ten minute to go from “What is happening?!?!?!?!” to “I got this!” I’ve got a lot of learn about consistency with it, but as everyone told me, long draw and woolen yarns are pretty forgiving when it comes to consistency. And it is super fun!

Of course, after filling two bobbins worth of fiber with a bump from the 4lbs of fiber I’d gotten, I worried and overthought the plying for a few days. But it’s plying, right? I watched the portion of the Craftsy course on it, asked for input from my spinning mentor and at her encouragement, I just gave it a go. There are certainly technical ways to measure the “right” way to ply this yarn, but rather than over-think it more I opted to just go by eye and see how I could do. Of course, once it was plied, then I worried about finishing this yarn. Because every step of this yarn kind of freaked me out, but having survived the singles and the plying, I just went ahead and finished it. After all, I’d come that far!

And lo and behold, it all worked out!

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It’s plied a bit tighter than it probably needed, but it’s close — close enough for a first try definitely.

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And the yarn itself… it’s magical. It weighs next to nothing — there is so much loft, so much air trapped in it. For someone who has been spinning worsted yarns for years, to have created this… it just blows my mind.

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It is utterly unlike any yarn I’ve created before. I am so inspired to get into my next foray into long draw and woolen spun yarns. And I just know that knitting with this yarn is going to blow my mind even further.

In addition to the roving, I’ve got some Shetland top that I intend to prep for a go with this new skill. It has gotten bumped from my to-spin list a couple times for various reasons, but I am happy to say I’ll be prepping and spinning them soon. Now that I’ve tackled long draw, I fully intend to explore all this technique has to offer!

17 thoughts on “Learning Long Draw

  1. WOW OH WOW! I remember your post about the gift and I was so touched at the time. I went back and re-read it because, well, COOLEST GIFT EVER! Annie is adorable and the fiber is beautiful. I love the thought and care you put into creating the yarn and it turned out beautifully. I’m so proud of your final product, and can’t wait to see what you create with it. Whatever you do, I know it will be done with the same love with which the gift was given. OH, and thanks for the link to learn the difference between woolen and worsted spun – good info.

    1. Well, if I can do some experimenting to see if I can maintain consistency with long draw, I do plan to make a sweater with the yarn — I mean 4lbs is enough for like 2 sweaters for me so I have room to make mistakes, but still! That’s the ultimate plan!

  2. You did it! And I am not even a little surprised that you learned quickly and enjoyed it. Now I am grinning from ear to ear.

    1. I know! Me, too!!! I don’t know what took me so long. I was expecting this battle and it was literally like 10minutes before I was feeling fairly confidant. It’ll take some fine tuning to get the yarns I really want, but it’s pretty amazing how everything just clicked! ❤

  3. very nice! All the plotting and planning and worrying and reading and cogitating and learning paid off. You made beautiful yarn!

    My younger brother never would try anything until he was sure he could do it, and I feel like you are the same way, sort of. You do loads of thinking and research and pondering, and then boom! You sit down and do it like you always knew how. Pretty impressive.

    So. How much more of that fiber have you got, and what will you make with it all?

    1. I have A LOT of this fiber. I hope to make enough consistent yarn for a sweater and whatever is left… well, that will be icing on the cake and who knows?!

      That’s funny — I never really thought of it like that, but it’s true. I suppose there was a lot of study and discussion before I went near it and the coming together is really just like I studied hard for a test, so the test is pretty easy when it actually comes around. Totally true to my personality — 100%!

      1. I think pondering and planning and reading before we do something is a good trait. That same brother used to like to stay with my grandmother when we would all go out boating. The two of them would go in the little rowboat instead. She would always ask him if he wanted to row. He did not but would watch her intently. Then one day when he was about 7, he said OK, and picked up the oars and rowed the boat like he had done it a million times. No splashing, pulling evenly. She was amazed. 😉

      2. That’s exactly how I learn physical activities! I have to see it and then I intuitively understand it when it gets in my hands. I will say it makes teaches your kids sports and how to rides bikes or swim a challenge though if they are not similar learners! :O

  4. It is so weird how we can build things up in our minds instead of just giving it a go! Glad you did though and it looks wonderful!

  5. What fabulous color! I’ve seen a video of Irish women spinning long draw and I when I saw it I thought the yarn looked kind of fuzzy and that not much care was put into it, but I was wrong. That yarn makes those fabulous Aran sweaters. I’m so happy you tried this and yes, isn’t it lofty?

    1. YES! I think it’s easy to not fully understand lots of aspects of the fiber arts when we don’t really know the “why” behind things. When I was a knitter, I never thought about how spinning would enrich my spinning. When I could spin decent 2-ply worsted, I never considered how learning to spin different yarns would enrich my established skills. And so on and so on. Every tool in the toolkit enhances every aspect of what we can do and what we understand about the craft and I find that endlessly cool!

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