How to create a handmade yarn

Do you wish to make a handmade yarn, but have no clue where to begin? Well, you have come to the right place! In fact, with this article we will try to explain the technique and the various tools necessary to bring to life artistic yarns that are truly one-of-a-kind. First, you will need to card the fibers, mixing the fibers and colours to your liking and then start spinning them. Remember that you can create a one-ply or two-ply handmade yarn.

Extra fine Merino wool tops
Carded Maori wool
Carded extra fine Merino
Drum carder
Carding brush
Spinning wheel
Carded sheet

Carded Maori Wool - Skin Colors Collection
100 g € 4,57
500 g € 16,75
1 kg € 30,46
Carded Extra Fine Merino Wool - The Classics Collection
100 g € 7,45
500 g € 32,77
1 kg € 59,58
Extra Fine Merino Wool Tops (Sliver) - Sugar Candies Collection
100 g € 6,44
500 g € 28,04
1 kg € 53,66
5 kg € 258,90
10 kg € 501,71
Viscose Tops (Sliver) - The Classics Collection
100 g € 3,14
€ 3,93
500 g € 13,66
€ 17,07
1 kg € 26,20
€ 32,75

Guide for creating a handmade yarn

First, we will explain the use of each tool that will allow you to achieve a one-of-a-kind handmade yarn. There are tools that perform the function of mixing the fibers, such as carding brushes or the drum carder, while to obtain the final result, namely the yarn, you will need the spinning machine.

Once the tools have been explained we will progress to the tutorial on how to create a handmade yarn, in which we will give you the concepts and instructions as to achieve a good result. Furthermore, we will also teach you how to know if your yarn has the right number of twists and at the same time, we will assist you in learning a modus operandi to catalogue and then replicate each single yarn.

Enjoy the journey learning the technique of handmade yarn.

How do carding brushes work and what are they used for? And the drum carder?

Carding brushes are only able to process small quantities of fibre at a time, but they are particularly handy and economical.

The drum carder, however, is a tool capable of carding fibers more quickly, but it has the disadvantage of being bulky in size and comes at a higher cost.

How to use carding brushes?

Firstly, start arranging the wool on one of the two brushes, you can do multiple layers, until you have filled the entire height of the needles. Then start brushing with the other brush until you get the desired mixture.

Once you have obtained the desired result, you can move the fibers onto a single brush. At this point, all you need to do is extract the fibers. To do this quickly and easily, we recommend that you take two knitting needles and place them between the tips of the fibers that come out of the brush. Lift gently upwards and roll it up, thus creating a hollow roll of fairly open fibers.

Be careful not to make the roll too tight or otherwise it could become really difficult to spin later.

How to use the drum carder?

In the drum carder you must place the fibers on the feed table and activate the wheel. In this way the fibers will enter between the two rollers and will be combed and overlapped in one direction, thus creating the carded carpet also called "batt". Mix the colours and fibers as you like. If you are looking for inspiration, I suggest reading the article on how to card silk cocoons.

To remove the carpet from the rollers you must use a tool e.g., a screwdriver. Once you have extracted the batt, lay it out on a surface and then roll it up with your hands. Again, being careful not to make the roll too tight otherwise spinning could be quite difficult.

How does the spinning wheel work and what is it used for?

The spinning wheel is the tool that will allow you to achieve the final result, i.e., the artistic yarn.

The spool, which will eventually contain the yarn, is mounted on the spinning wheel head. The hooks on the sides of the flywheel are used to fill the spool evenly, moving the thread from time to time.

In front of and behind the spool there is the brake that serves to establish the force with which the spinning wheel draws the yarn back onto the spool.

The mechanism is activated by a transmission belt that connects the wheel to the pedal on the ground.

The grooves, both on the wheel and at the spool head, work exactly like in bicycle gears. They are used to vary the number of turns for each push of the pedal, creating thicker or thinner yarns.

Tutorial: how to create a one-ply handmade yarn

Each artisan yarn is formed one layer at a time. Position a comfortable chair in front of the spinning wheel, making sure it is not too high nor too low. Tie a thread to the bobbin that is both strong and long enough: this will be the guide thread on which you can attach the yarns to.

Start to pedal by spinning the empty wheel, so as to become familiar with its resistance by applying the right amount of force needed for pedalling.

Take a tuft of fibre, with your left hand, between your thumb and index finger, close the point where the fibre turns into a thread, while your right hand will serve to widen the fibre, pulling it back. Avoid giving the yarn too much twist, at least at the start.

It is important to familiarize yourself with the dexterity, finger pressure and brake resistance. Remember to keep pedalling steadily.

The optimal distance of the hands from the coil should be 15-20 cm, both to maintain a comfortable position of the arms and to check that the twisting proceeds correctly.

Don't forget to move the thread along the bobbin using the metal hooks. This way the yarn will wind evenly without tangling.

How to recognise if the twist is correct?

Stop pedalling and remove a few centimetres of thread from the spool. If this tends to roll up on itself and is a bit elastic, it means that it's fine. If this does not happen, then it means that you need to give more twist to the yarn.

How to create a two-ply handmade yarn

Firstly, it is necessary that both yarns you are going to work have been spun in the same direction. Place the full bobbins on the "lazy kate" and tie the two ends with a small knot to the guide thread of the empty bobbin. Start pedalling, taking care to make the wheel proceed counter-clockwise, or in any case opposite to the twist of the two yarns.

By doing so, the two threads of the yarn will spontaneously tend to hook onto each other.

For a homogeneous result it is advisable to keep a constant pedalling, as well as the distance between the two hands. This last detail is very important. By bringing the hands together, the angle of the two yarns will be more acute. Consequently, without the necessary experience, the two yarns could risk remaining detached from each other. On the contrary, if we separate them too much, the yarn will be very stiff and difficult to work with.

The two-ply yarn lends itself well to experimentation and variations in colour. Its structure is also easier to work, whether you are knitting or crocheting.

If I want to create a two-ply yarn with a handmade yarn and a commercial yarn?

Exactly as you did before, place the full spools on the lazy kate and tie the two ends to the guide thread of the empty bobbin with a small knot. Start pedalling counter-clockwise paying attention to the distance between the two hands, for the same reason as above.

In this case, however, extra care will be needed as commercial yarns are usually thinner than handmade ones.

In particular, pay attention to the force with which you hold the two yarns. If you keep less tension on the yarn, it will tend to roll up on itself forming a spiral, if you keep more tension on the yarn then the final appearance will have a smooth surface with a visually appealing display of doubling thread. Therefore, it is wise to the desired level of tension and to try and maintain it throughout the twisting phase.

With this method it is possible to create countless types of yarn, experimenting with different colours and thicknesses.

Forming a skein

Once the twisting is complete, move on to the formation of the skein, to do this you must use the "niddy noddy", that is, a practical and light wooden instrument with the shape of a double T offset at 90 °.

Place the spool on the lazy kate and mount the yarn by passing it over each vertex of the T. Once the ring of threads is finished, remove the yarn from the niddy noddy and lightly stretch the two ends. Rotate the left hand forward and the right back and gradually bringing them closer together, the two ends will wrap around each other, and the skein will be completed.

It is good practice to always label the finished product, noting the materials used, the weight and the length. You can also keep a small sample of each product both as a reminder but also to be able to replicate it in future projects.

We have come to the end of this complete guide to handmade yarn. We hope you enjoyed this article and encourage you to go and create your own a one-of-a-kind yarn. In addition, if you wish, you can also take advantage of a visual aid for all that we have just explained to you, thus accompanying the reading with a series of videos dedicated to the technique of handmade yarn. In addition, we also suggest you read the exclusive interview with Lanivendole who have decided to take up this profession full-time.