There are as many ways to spin a gorgeous yarn as there are people who spin. Sometimes, getting a consistent yarn is really important - especially if we're spinning lots of yarn for a big project.
There are lots of ways to make sure you're spinning a consistent yarn. One of my favorite ways is to use the Spinner's Multitool. It helps me prepare fiber, and then check my yarn as I'm spinning to make sure I'm getting the yarn I want.
The Spinner's Multitool functions as a diz, WPI (wraps per inch) tool, and twist angle. The Ultimate Multitool also has a small 2" ruler that can help you determine twists per inch. These are all factors that can help you spin a consistent yarn. They're also helpful if you're trying to replicate another yarn in your stash.
In this post, I'll walk you through all the ways you can use the Spinner's Multitool. In this video, I'm using the Ultimate Multitool. but if you're into something a little different, we also have a Sheep Shaped Spinner's Multitool, an Alpaca, a Bunny, and the Original. If you still have questions after watching the video, I've added some more information and closeup images to help.
Using The Spinner's Multitool as a Diz
Each Spinner's Multitool has several different holes. These are designed so you can diz fiber from a drumcarder, hand cards, a blending board, or hand combs.
In this video, I share how to diz fiber from hand combs. Remember, the bigger the hole you use, the thicker your top will be (or roving, if using a carded prep). But you might be surprised - even though those holes seem pretty small, a lot of fiber fits through them!
Dizzing fiber is a great way to prepare fiber for spinning. I find that hand-dizzed fiber is a real pleasure to spin. It is light and fluffy and fun to work with!
Learning to diz fiber can take some practice. The key is to not try to get too much fiber through the diz at one time, or else you'll get stuck and frustrated. When this happens, back off a little bit, draft the fiber gently, and then keep going. And remember to be patient with yourself! The results are well worth it.
Checking the WPI (Wraps Per Inch)
To check the WPI, or wraps per inch, simply lay the yarn along the grooves, and move it around until you find a good match. Here, I've determined that the yarn is about 18 wraps per inch. Remember to not pull tightly, as this can distort your reading.
Checking Your Twist Angle
In the first image, you will see some unspun fiber. It literally has no twist! So I've laid it parallel to the "zero" angle.
Here you can see a yarn that is Z twist, at a 30 degree angle. I've added a red dash to show how the angle of the twist lines up with the 30 degree angle.
Checking TPI (Twists Per Inch)
TPI, or twists per inch, is a term used by the textile industry, but not as often by handspinners. Sometimes spinners might also talk about "bumps per inch." It refers to how tightly a yarn is spun or plied. This impacts durability, drape, and how your yarn behaves overall.
To calculate TPI, count the number of visible "bumps" in an inch of your yarn, then divide by the number of plies. The Ultimate Multitool has 2 inches to measure over, so if you use that full area, you will need to divide by two again to get your average.
In the sample above, I marked above a bump with a red curve. I counted 10 bumps across 2 inches. I'll divide that by 2 to get 5, then divide by 2 again for the number of plies, to come up with 2.5 bumps per inch.
It's easiest to see TPI in plied yarn, so that's what I've shared here. Jill Wolcott has an excellent tutorial with a deep dive on TPI.
Here are some key things to remember when you're using your Spinner's Multitool:
This year I've been working on chipping away at my stash of wool fleeces. I've amassed quite a few over the last four years. When I get one home after a fiber festival, I scour it, which is a time consuming task in itself. Once that's done, I'm properly sore from hauling hot water all over the place, and the clean fleece sits on the shelf for an embarrassingly long time!
This year, with no fiber festivals or other bright shiny things to distract me and plenty of stash to work from, I've turned an eye to these fleeces. Follow along as I spend some time making roving from my swing picker and drum carder!
Jillian Moreno is hosting an informal sample-along on her blog and on Instagram under the hashtag #samplealong. I can't recommend her book Yarnitecture enough, and I even had the opportunity to take her Yarnitecture workshop several years ago.
During the workshop, we spent a whole day sampling different ways of spinning yarn. It was like a playdate for spinners! So often, we feel like we don't have time to play with our fiber before we get down to the business of spinning. We feel like we can't "waste" fiber, especially if it's something special. The irony is that if we take time to sample before starting a big project, we'll make better choices instead of diving headfirst into a project and then realizing that we should have done it differently. (But only after there's no turning back.)
The first step in the sample along is preparing your fiber. I've chosen to spin Monsoon Sunset in Polwarth. Last year, I spun Monsoon Sunset as a self-striping colorway for a cowl, but always wondered what it would look like spun up with different color manipulation techniques. This sample-along is the perfect opportunity to find out! Plus, I haven't spun Polwarth wool since I began spinning, so this is a great opportunity to try a different base.
An important step in choosing how you will spin your fiber is to look at the length of your color repeats. Jillian Moreno suggests trying to lay the fiber out like the dyer might have during the dyeing stage. Above you can see how I apply dye to get long color repeats in my fiber. This is one of the longest color repeats of all my fiber - so long I couldn't get it all in the frame!
This fiber is relatively fresh from the dyepot, so it hasn't had a chance to get too compacted. Plus, I work very hard to make sure my fiber doesn't felt at all during the dye process, so basically I just needed to unbraid it. If your fiber is a little compacted, this is a great post on how to gently open up a braid of fiber.
From there, it was time to divide the braid lengthwise into four long strips. Most braids weigh four ounces, but I dye 6-ounce braids to give plenty of opportunity to sample or spin a few extra yards. Each of my four sections weighs between 1.4 and 1.6 ounces, which I'm hoping will give me enough yarn to have a sample skein and a decent sized swatch of each sample style.
The spinning styles Jillian Moreno is sampling are:
Because of the way the colors repeat in this braid, "flipped" will result in a very similar yarn to "as it comes," so I'll be thinking of a different way to play with the color for that one. While we're supposed to spin our default yarn, the yarn that we spin when we sit down and don't think about what we're going to do, Jillian recommends a heavy-fingering or thicker yarn, which is slightly thicker than my default, so I'll be working with my Spinner's Multitool to keep a consistently thicker yarn.
Now that my fiber's ready to go, I just have to get my wheel ready!
Glacier Sunrise is one of my favorite colorways, and it was a joy to spin too!
This colorway was inspired by this photograph, which I took several years ago at Glacier National Park. I was able to formulate my dyes to match several of the colors in the rocks, sky, mountains, and water.
There are so many different ways you could spin this colorway - it would look great chain plied so the colors match up, or as a fractal. For this project, though, I stripped the braid lengthwise into narrow sections. I spun each ply to between 22 and 26 wraps per inch, using my Spinner's Multitool to check my consistency. You'll notice that there are some thicker and thinner spots in the yarn, and that is where the variation between the wraps per inch comes into play. I plied two singles together, allowing the yarn to barberpole as much as it wanted to. I was surprised that even though I didn't make too much of an effort to make the colors line up, there were a number of places where the colors lined up perfectly before going on to barberpole once again.
After washing and a light thwacking, this yarn is about 11 wraps per inch and is about 400 yards. It would look great as a shawl, cowl, or even incorporated into colorwork in a sweater.
One of the things I love about the Spinner's Multitool is its versatility. Just because the name implies that it's for spinners, doesn't mean you can't use it to make your weaving weaving easier!
In weaving, the sett is how close together (or how far apart) the warp ends are. The sett is often expressed as a number, followed by the term "EPI," which stands for "ends per inch." Deciding on a sett is a skill that takes practice and plenty of sampling, but I like to use our Spinner's Multitool to get a ballpark idea of which sett to choose.
First, lay the warp yarn across the multitool until you find the closest match. This is your WPI, or wraps per inch measurement. In the first image, my measurement is 22.
For a balanced plain weave fabric, divide your measurement in half to get your sett. This gets us 11. While it's possible to warp most looms to 11 ends per inch using a reed substitution chart, you could also choose to round up to 12 ends per inch (for a firmer fabric) or down to 10 ends per inch (for a softer, drapier fabric). If you're using a rigid heddle loom, you'll want to choose the number that is closest to the reed you have.
For a twill fabric, you usually want the sett to be a little denser. A good rule of thumb is that the sett would be 2/3 of the wraps per inch. With the same 22 WPI measurement from above, that gets us 14.5 ends per inch - but let's round up to 15 for the sake of simplicity!
For a warp-faced fabric, you want the warp to be very closely spaced so that the weft doesn't show. A good rule of thumb is that the sett will between 75% and 100% of the wraps per inch measurement you take. In this example, that would between 16.5-22 ends per inch.
Remember: this is just a jumping-off point to get you started! It's always important to sample to make sure you're getting the cloth you want, especially when you're using your handspun yarns.
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