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Glossary of Spinning Terms

Below you’ll find a short glossary of commonly used spinning terms. 

Batt:  An airy matt of fibre that has been carded on a drum carder

Carding:  A way of processing fibre using metal pins set in a cloth. The result is airy, and fibres are not aligned. 

Combing:  A way of processing fibres by pulling them through large tines on a comb or hackle. The result is smooth, and fibres are aligned. 

Combed top:  Fibre that has been combed and pulled through a diz. 

Cop: The bundle made by spun yarn when it is wound around the spindle shaft for storage.

Distaff:  A stick on which fibre is stored, either by tying on, or in a cage-type container, and from which the spindle spinner drafts the fibre. 

Diz:  A piece of material (metal, plastic, bone, wood) with a hole in it through which fibre is pulled after being carded or combed. 

Drafting:  Pulling fibres from a bundle (fleece, batt, top, roving, etc) to prepare them to receive twist.

Drop spindle:  Also called a suspended spindle, this takes the form of a stick with a whorl at the top, middle or bottom. It adds twist to fibre while suspended from it. 

Flyer: The part of a spinning wheel that holds the bobbin and any whorls. 

Long draw:  A drafting technique characterised by the drawing back of the hand holding the fibre, allowing the twist to provide tension. Creates airy, woollen yarns. 

Nostepinne: Literally ‘nest-stick’, this is for winding yarn onto to create a centre-pull ball to work from.

Roving:  Fibre that has been carded on a drum carder and then pulled through a diz.

Scotch tension: A brake system on flyer led wheels where the brake operates separately from the drive system. 

Short forward draw:  A drafting technique characterised by using one hand to pull short lengths of fibre from a bundle (fleece, batt, roving, etc) held in the other hand.  Creates strong, hard-wearing, worsted yarns. 

S-twist:  Twist added in an anti-clockwise direction. 

Staple:  A lock or cluster of fibres pulled from a fleece. 

Supported spindle:  A spindle that takes the form of a stick (with or without a whorl at the bottom) that is supported on a surface (floor, bowl, table top) while twist is added. 

Top:  (see Combed top)

VM (Vegetable matter):  Small bits of leaf, twigs or insect matter that remain in a fleece after it is sheared. 

Whorl:  On a spindle, the weighted part that helps it to spin evenly, usually a disc. On a wheel, the notched disc that controls the speed of the flyer on scotch tension wheels. 

Woollen:  Airy yarns usually made with short staple fibres. 

Worsted:  Strong, hardwearing yarns usually made with long-staple fibres. 

Z-twist:  Twist added in a clockwise direction.