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.
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.
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.
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.