When you're first learning how to spin , you may find that things can — and, I'm sorry to say, probably will — go wrong at some point. Your yarn won't wind on, or it'll wind on too tightly. Or you may find yourself wondering helplessly, where did the end go?!
Whatever happens, don't despair! We're here to help ease your frustration with some spinning-wheel troubleshooting. Trust us: With a little guidance, you'll be able to figure things out.
Why Won’t My Yarn Wind On?
This is one of the most common spinning-wheel problems when you're first starting out.
First, check that everything on the wheel is in the right place. Is your drive band seated properly? Is your bobbin correctly positioned? Is your brake band on?
Photo via Laura Chau
Or is the yarn looped around the hook or loop? That happens to me all the time — the twist in the yarn makes it loop back on itself and get caught.
The problem might be that the brake tension is too low. Try taking the brake band off, then putting it back on with the tension very loose. Slowly increase the tension until you can feel the wheel pulling the yarn into the orifice. You want just enough tension to pull the yarn in, but not so much that it yanks out of your hands.
It's possible the yarn isn't winding on because you’re holding it too tightly. Beginners often hold onto the fiber supply for dear life, but you need to let go a little in order for the spun yarn to wind on.
My Yarn is Winding On Too Tightly!
If it feels like you’re fighting with the wheel — that it wants to yank the spun and not-yet-spun fiber out of your hands — then the brake tension is too tight.
Take the brake band off, then put it back on with the tension very loose. Slowly increase the tension until you can feel the wheel pulling the yarn into the orifice. You might also want to try putting your drive band onto a larger whorl, which causes twist to enter the fiber more slowly.
My Wheel Keeps Going Backwards!
You need more practice. Try treadling without any fiber on the wheel to get it going consistently in one direction, then the other. Take note of where the drive wheel needs to be in relation to the treadles in order to make it rotate the direction you want. It’s also totally okay to use your hand to push the wheel in the correct direction.
Treadling is Too Hard!
Check over your wheel to make sure all the bands and hooks are moving smoothly.
Depending on your spinning wheel, adding a couple drops of spinning-wheel oil to the moving parts will help lubricate and reduce friction. Treadling generally requires more force on bobbin-led wheels with Irish tension , such as several Louet spinning wheels.
Oh No, I've Got Blobs of Yarn on the Bobbin!
Change hooks or move the slide clip more often. When you’re just starting on a new bobbin, you’ll need to change hooks quite often since you’re close to the bobbin’s core. Generally it’s a good idea to begin winding on at one end of the bobbin, then move up one hook at a time to the other end before coming back again.
If you hate changing hooks and just want to spin, the WooLee Winder might be a good option. This flyer is made to fit different spinning-wheel models, and uses gears to automatically slide the yarn guide up and down the bobbin as you spin.
I Lost My Yarn End!
Stop spinning and take a good look at your bobbin. Massage it a little and maybe the yarn end will pop out. If you know which hook you were on, start looking there. You can also try patting a piece of clear tape up and down the bobbin to see if anything comes loose.
If you still can't find the end, a last-resort option is to (carefully) cut a strand of your singles close to where you think you lost your end, then pull yarn off the bobbin until the end reveals itself.
As you get more experienced, you'll know instinctively how to steer away from potential problems and correct any that crop up. Just keep at it and you won't have to worry about spinning out of control!