Glossary of Spinning Terms

batts - carded hunks of fiber as it comes off of a drumcarder

bench - also called the table. The table of the spinning wheel on which the wheel and spinning mechanism are mounted

bobbin - the shaft of the spool onto which the spun yarn is wound on a spinning wheel

carders - (or cards) a pair of brushes used to smooth and straighten fibers for spinning

comb - used to process long stapled wool for worsted spinning

crimp - amount of curl in a lock of fleece; fine wool is very crimpy

distaff - a staff that holds the flax or wool fibers which are drawn from as the spinner needs them when spinning. A distaff can be attached to a belt, mounted on the bench of a spinning wheel, or free-standing.

draft - the pulling out of fibers to allow only a certain amount of the fiber to twist into thread

drafting triangle - the space between the spun yarn and the fibers being drawn out

drive band - the cord carrying the power from the large wheel to the spindle or bobbin/pulley

drop spindle - (handspindle) a stick with a weighted whorl that is used to twist fibers into thread

ewe - a mature female sheep

fiber - the unspun hair/wool/plant material (as opposed to the thread, which is already spun)

fleece - the entire coat of wool off of a sheep

flyer - the u-shaped device on a treadle spinning wheel that twists the yarn

footman - the straight piece of wood or wire that connects the treadle to the axle/crank of a spinning wheel

grease wool - (or “wool in the grease”) the unwashed wool as it comes off of a sheep

hank - a 560-yard long skein of wool, usually wound on a niddy-noddy or reel

knot - a 40-yard strand skein of yarn wound on a reel or a niddy-noddy that measures 2 yards in circumference = 80 yards

maidens - (or sisters) two upright pieces of wood that hold the spinning apparatus in a horizontal position

Mother-of-all - usually, the entire spinning mechanism on a spinning wheel; maidens, flyer and bobbin

niddy-noddy - double-headed tool used in skeining spun yarn

noils - short fibers removed when combing the fleece; can be mixed with other wool and carded and spun

orifice - the opening or eye of the spindle on a treadle spinning wheel

pencil roving - thinner strips of roving roughly the diameter of a pencil

plying - winding two or more yarns together; must be done in the opposite direction to that in which they were spun

rolag - finger sized roll of carded wool, ready for spinning to make woolen yarn

roving - long tubes of carded wool, produced by carding machines

S-twist - yarn spun with a counterclockwise twist

scour - to wash or clean fibers or spun yarns

skeining - winding yarn off the spindle

skirted fleece - grease wool that has had the dirty edges removed all the way around

sliver - strips of batts in one continuous strip

slub - the flaw or fat place in the yarn (sometimes intentionally spun in for novelty yarns) Note: the length of a slub cannot be longer than the staple of a fiber

spindle pulley - the small grooved whorl that carries the drive band connecting the spindle to the drive wheel

staple - length of a lock of fleece or a single fiber

strick - a bundle of flax prepared for spinning after the tow has been removed (long fibers only)

tops - long fibers straightened by combing

tow - the short fibers left after flax is combed out

treadle - the foot pedal that turns the main wheel, or the process of pushing the pedal of the main wheel

whorl - the weighted part of a dropspindle that helps it to spin. Also the spindle pulley that regulates the speed of a spinning wheel spindle

woolen - yarns made from short-stapled wool; has a soft finish and felts well

worsted - made from long-stapled wool where the fibers are combed lengthwise and spun from cut end to tip in apparel-type fashion; has a firm finish and does not usually felt (i.e. most tweeds, suit or jacket material)

Z or S twist - yarn spun with a clockwise spin with Z twist


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