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Wool Gathering - A Blog by Rose

Entry #4 - Semi-Worsted & Semi-Woolen

One of the fun things about hand spinning is that it allows you to produce unique yarns that are unlike those made in the factory. Last week I explained that worsted yarn is created by spinning combed wool fibers, while woolen yarn is spun from carded fibers. What I didn't tell you is that there also are different methods for spinning wool. Combed wool typically is spun using what is called a "short draw" in order to help keep the fibers straight and parallel, while woolen yarn typically is spun using what is called a "long draw" to achieve greater loft.

When you are handspinning, however, you can choose to use a "short draw" with carded fibers to make what is known as a semi-worsted yarn, or you can use a "long draw" with combed fibers to make a semi-woolen yarn. You also can use something in between the "short draw" and the "long draw" -- which is called, not surprisingly, the "medium draw." Indeed, when you are spinning by hand, you will find so many ways to vary your technique to get different results that you will soon understand why hand spinners keep coming up with new terms (such as "short backwards draw" and "spinning from the fold") to describe their methods.


Entry #3 - Worsted or Woolen?

There are two basic types of wool yarn, worsted and woolen. Now this is somewhat confusing because the term "worsted weight" is used to refer to yarn of a certain thickness. However, the word "worsted" originally had nothing to do with the thickness or weight of yarn. The term "worsted" traditionally refers to yarn spun from long wool fibers that have been combed until they are line up parallel to one another, with shorter fibers being removed in the process. The result is a strong yarn with a smooth finish. The term "woolen" refers to yarn spun from wool fibers that have been carded but not combed. The result is a loftier yarn with a soft finish. If you compare worsted and woolen yarn by looking through a magnifying lens, you will see that woolen yarn has a fuzzier appearance due to both the greater crimp remaining in the individual fibers and the presence of short fibers.

Each type of yarn has advantages, so your choice will depend upon your project and your tastes. Let's say you want to make a sweater. A lofty woolen yarn will produce a warm sweater that feels soft rather than bulky; a worsted yarn will produce a smoother, more formal looking sweater that will hold up better to wear and tear. The smooth finish of worsted yarn is best for showing off cables and intricate stitch patterns, while woolen yarns will add visual interest to a straight stockinette or garter stitch pattern.

In weaving, you typically would not use woolen yarn for warp threads, which need to be strong. You also would not use woolen yarn to knit up something that needs to be strong, such as a tote bag -- unless you also plan to felt it. As I will describe in more detail some other day, woolen yarn can be strengthened by fulling or felting. Indeed, woolen yarn is often an ideal choice for felting projects.


Entry #2 - A New Contact Form

The Wool Loft website is currently under construction.  This is exciting, as it represents the accomplishment of a long-term goal.  It's also an educational process.  Presenting information about a business in a web site is very different than communicating in-person or over the telephone.  When talking to a customer, it's easy to give them the information they want by simply answering questions.  For the website, I need to figure out how to be brief but informative.  That's a tough challenge, because some people want a lot of information before they make a purchase decision.  That's understandable.  Crafting an item by hand typically involves many hours of work.  In order to make those hours enjoyable and worthwhile, folks want to use materials and tools that are just right for them.

To meet customers' need for information, without overwhelming the website with detail, I've asked the webmaster to add a contact form that customers can use to ask questions.  This contact form can also be used to make comments or suggestions about our products, service, or website.

Check out the new Contact page and use the form if you want further information about our products -- or if you just want to say "hello."  Thanks for stopping by.


Entry #1 - About This Blog

The design for this wesite went so fast!  I am still working to pull together pictures and descriptions of products to make it complete. 

Meanwhile, each week it seems that I learn a new technique or some new fact that might be of interest to those who weave, knit, crochet, spin -- or otherwise make use of wool products.  I intend to use this blog to share such information, along with news,  thoughts and musings that might be of interest to customers and visitors.

To keep it short and sweet for today:  Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you'll visit again soon.



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