There’s Magic in the Spinning

Loose Alpaca wool

So what’s the big deal?  I’ll tell you–a spinner takes a handful of loose, random wool from  a farm animal, and turns it into thin strands of usable yarn, and now we can all wear clothes.

Usable yarn! We can make clothes!

Okay, so it really hasn’t been a big deal for several hundred years, but for several thousand years before that, it was a very big deal!! A spinner was a magician of sorts.

Taking loose, random wool and making usable threads and yarns….How?? Actually it’s a pretty simple bit of physics. Spinning adds twist to the fibers such that they are locked together, and can no longer be drawn apart. Until the twist is added to the wool, it’s not usable as thread or yarn.

Wool converted to usable thread! Amazing!

The spinner controls the drafting and the twisting with her hands—drafting with the back hand and controlling twist with the front hand. Drafting while spinning is the art of pulling the fibers to slide away from each other just the perfect amount to then add the twist you want to achieve the thickness of yarn.

From keeping sheep warm to keeping us warm

A magic spinner

This is the magic that happens between the two hands of a spinner.

Yeah, yeah, a modern spinning machine in a mill can spin faster with more guaranteed uniformity.  But there is no magic in that.

6 thoughts on “There’s Magic in the Spinning

  1. The first rule of making something magical is to never let them see how the magic happens… That is what makes Walt Disney World so successful, along with several other business endeavors I can think of. In this case however, I think the magic is in the revealing of the process. I find it quite interesting. I am fascinated by the ingenuity of the human spirit in absence of a better solution. Mechanical watches for instance. In a time long before there was electricity, humans could tell time fairly accurately through a process that is largely unchanged today. This fits into that category, and is simply fascinating to me.

  2. I remember the first time I witnessed the magic of spinning. I looked at a small blob of fluffy fiber in a woman’s hand and watched it change into a string, but couldn’t wrap my mind around it at all. I walked away puzzled because I didn’t stand there long enough to see what was really happening. It bothered me for years if I thought of it. FINALLY, I tackled the mystery myself. Now, it’s like making breakfast. Easy and necessary to my survival.

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