Roving Reporter: Fulling Woolen-Spun Yarn

I’ve been working away on the handspun Shetland hap I started a few weeks ago. Inspired by Debbie Held’s article in the Fall 2018 issue of Spin Off and my friend Elizabeth Johnston, I decided this would be the perfect fall project. I’ve spun the yarn and started sampling finishing techniques—come take a peek!


Earlier this year, I bought a glorious armload of finewool/camel roving from the Natural Twist. The blend was so lovely and squishy-soft that I decided to spin an airy, woolen-spun yarn. In fact, on my Hansen MiniSpinner I found the Camelot blend was a treat to spin with an unsupported longdraw. As you can see below, the roving rests comfortably on my lower three fingers, leaving my thumb and index finger relaxed most of the time. This is also how I hold cotton sliver when spinning. This draw is “unsupported” because my other hand is not actively engaging the yarn.

olen-spun yarn

My hand position for longdraw has evolved a bit after spinning pounds of cotton sliver. (As you can see in the background, housework has been abandoned for handspinning.) Photos by Kate Larson


Woolen-spun yarn is often a soft single with comparatively more ply twist. This means that once your skein is pulled off of the niddy noddy, it will look like an over-plied mess. In the image at the top of this page, you can see my unwashed sample; it looks like a tangle. However, fulling will transform this woolen-spun yarn into a relaxed, supple knitting yarn.

After doing some small samples, I settled on a fulling procedure for this fiber and project. Always sample wet-finshes first—fulling is forever. First, I placed my skeins into hot tap water for about five minutes. I then pulled the skeins out, squeezed out excess water, and submerged in a second bath of cold water. Next, I took each skein out and squeezed to remove excess water. (The next step can be done in your bathtub or outside your home on clean pavement.) Throw the wet skeins against a hard surface several times. Lastly, give each skein several gentle snaps, reorganizing the yarn before hanging the skein to dry.

Fulled skeins are more durable and less prone to pilling than unfulled skeins. The fulling process begins to entangle the fibers, locking active twist into place and improving ply cohesion.

woolen-spun yarn

Off and knitting! You can see the red knitting belt I purchased at the Shetland Woolbrokers and the long double-pointed needles used with it.

Keep an eye out for more next time on swatching handspun and adapting knitting patterns for your handspun yarns!


Featured Image: After fulling, my yarn is beautifully balanced. Top: sample before fulling. Bottom: finished skein.

Get stitching!


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