Part 1: Design

Section D: Spinning to a Standard

Assemble four different sizes of commerical wool yarns. Determine how to reproduce the yarns; then spin 20-yard (18.2 meter) samples of each.

Fine lace yarn

Fingering weight yarn

Worsted weight yarn

Bulky yarn


Maximum 32 points

Examiner 1: 23
Examiner 2: 25

Both examiners noted that my handspun duplications were close but not perfect. In general they were more fuzzy, Examiner 1 thought they were a little more dense. Only the bulky yarn was really a good copy. Duplicating machine-made yarn by hand is very difficult, and not just because the machine can do it more evenly. Modern fiber processing and spinning does things that a human just can't do. That bulky yarn is twisted roving, not even spun in a technical sense. The machine cuts the processed fiber into narrow strips and there is no drafting at all. And the machine is capable of precise short draw of short fibers with far more control than even the most experienced human spinner. Mine is more fuzzy than the model because I have fingers, not little rubber rollers to control the fiber. It's just how it works.

Examiner 2 wanted a small skein of the commercial yarns as an example. The directions only said "sample" so it wasn't clear if this was required or even suggested. I provided more than you might find on a typical sample card, but not a skein for space reasons. There is only so much you can stick on that one sheet of paper and the handspun skeins were already getting to be a bit much for the larger yarns.

I was not happy with this requirement because it was limited to wool yarns and then only those that had some kind of meaningful "wrapper" to provide. This cut out most weaving yarns, which have a label stuck on the cone with often little more than a style number. That leaves knitting yarns, which these days come in a wide range of colors and designs, some of them impossible to duplicate by hand. And few are all wool. The other trouble is trying to duplicate brightly multi-color yarns. It took a long time to find acceptable examples with a color and structure I was willing or capable of duplicating. Although there are many that are basically multiple strands of fine two-ply, the very fine singles are beyond my ability to handle without adding more twist to hold them together. One of the reasons I hate most commercial knitting yarns is that they are low twist. This makes them miserable to duplicate because handling a fine single with almost no twist is a nightmare. The single for the Cascade 220 duplication had so little twist that it looked like I had just wrapped fiber around the bobbin, not spun yarn.