Her Handspun Habit: What’s Your Type? 5 Ways to Explore New Spinning Fiber

A few weeks ago, I realized that I’d been lying to myself about my spinning. While I’ve always claimed to enjoy putting any breed-specific or wool-based blend of spinning fibers on my wheels and spindles, it was a recent spin with a new-to-me spinning fiber that opened my eyes to the truth: I have a type.

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A dreamy Manx Loaghtan blend.

I’ve discovered I have a strong bias to certain breeds and bases, and I’m probably not alone in this. Do you tend to purchase spinning fibers from just one dyer or purchase blends in a limited color palette? Maybe you exclusively spin hand-dyed commercial top and have yet to tackle a raw fleece? Or, as I discovered, possibly you tend toward certain types of breeds which share similar characteristics in their wool? We all have our favorite spinning fibers! But it’s important to branch out sometimes, too.

My truth came to me as I began supported-spindle spinning a richly dyed blend of Manx Loaghtan, white Shetland, Tussah silk, and firestar (30/30/30/10), using a few phang spindles from a favorite maker. I’d purchased this fiber not only to participate in a virtual spinalong in celebration of said spindle maker but also because I’d found its deeply saturated, red-purple color to be so enticing. I’d made the purchase without even thinking about the actual makeup of the braid.

The dense and wooly Manx Loaghtan, especially when combined with hearty Shetland wool, called for lofty, woolen drafting—an ideal accompaniment to supported-spindle spinning.

I won’t lie: Initially, I did not enjoy this spin. The hand wasn’t familiar, and despite sampling, I couldn’t envision the final skein. After seeing how nice a fellow spinner’s yarns spun from this same blend were, however, I was able to settle in and enjoy the ride. I now find myself eager to spin more commercial blends made up of Manx Loaghtan.

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A less-than-comfortable spin pushed Debbie out of her comfort zone.

Looking to Explore New Spinning Fiber??

Here are several things you can do.

  • Do a fiber swap with a spinning pal where you agree to spin whatever he or she sends your way.
  • Join a themed spinalong, making sure to actually spin along.
  • Assign yourself a spinning goal that requires you to break out from your norm.
  • Spin a fiber in your stash that doesn’t appeal to you. (You might be surprised by your final results.)
  • Shop a new-to-you dyer or supplier, purposely buying something that makes you just a bit uncomfortable. If you come across a new-to-you base of fiber, grab it.

There is nothing wrong with spinning that which you love, of course, but there could be something equally (or more!) enjoyable out there, as yet unspun.

Featured Image: Debbie’s reward: roughly 600 yards/5.5 oz of an airy 2-ply and a new type of fiber to explore. Photos by Debbie Held

Try a New Fiber!


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