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!