Hardcore Luxury® -- Always 100% USA


There is so much info on the web about spinning that having anything more than a few paragraphs here seems pointless!  AND ... as usual, this is my best take, but I'm sure a heavy-duty guy would have me change or refine some of this.  It seems each time I learn a new paragraph's worth of something, it turns out there is a whole chapter I didn't even know existed.

WeatherWool requires two types of spinning: worsted spinning and woolen spinning. The machinery to spin each is significantly different, which is why our worsted spinning is done by Kentwool Yarns and our woolen spinning is by American Woolen.

Kentwool spins our warp yarn. The warp yarn runs lengthwise through a bolt of fabric. The weft yarn runs crosswise through a bolt of fabric. The weft is very fuzzy and thick (woolen-spun) and the warp is thin and slick (worsted-spun). In general, the weft provides the characteristics of the fabric, but our MidWeight Fabric is (by weight) 31% warp, and our FullWeight is 21% warp. So the performance of the warp is a major component of the performance of our Fabric, and this is why we go to the trouble and expense of 100% wool warp. Many "woolens" will use warp made of other materials. But ... that's "weaving" and this page is "spinning"!!

(Probably I should state, just to eliminate any uncertainty, that our yarns and Fabrics are all 100% wool.  I don't know why the industry uses the term "woolen spinning".  It's confusing, I think.)

And while it may not directly be considered part of "spinning", once yarn is spun it is normally twisted.  Twisting is just what it sounds like ... One part of the yarn is held stationary and another part is turned, resulted in a helix.  Yarns can be twisted in either direction.  After twisting, the yarn needs to be treated so that it relaxes, and the tension that is built up during twisting is relieved.

Plying is another step that is not strictly "spinning", but closely related.  It is typical to take strands of yarn and wrap them around one another ... usually two strands but sometimes more.  Like twisting, plying also makes the overall yarn stronger per unit weight.  And plied yarn must also be relaxed before weaving.

Twisting and plying both can be done in either direction, but plying will normally be done in the opposite direction of the twisting.

As usual, Woolmark, the great Australian wool trade-promotion organization, has a terrific 3-minute video with an overview of wool processing, including spinning and preparation for spinning. We do take one exception to this video, however. Woolmark mentions that shorter fibers go to woolen spinning and longer fibers to worsted spinning. All our fiber is long, suitable for worsted spinning. We use exceptionally long fibers because this will make stronger yarn, and therefore stronger and more-durable garments. Yarns made from longer fiber will also be more comfortable against bare skin. As usual, this approach is more costly!

Wikipedia has a substantial entry on spinning, and as usual it is cross-linked to many other entries with more information!

One more nice little detail ... People in the industry will often pronounce WOOSTERED instead of WORSTED.  Same thing.

When I asked Giuseppe Monteleone, Director of Operations at American Woolen, to look over what I've written here, Giuseppe said it was OK, and gave me a great quote (THANKS GIUSEPPE!):

“There is a lot more science and technical information behind the Worsted spinning and the Woolen spinning. We can’t compare to each other because they are two separate worlds. Remember the yarn is the foundation of the fabric. If the yarn is bad the finish fabric will be horrible.”


14 May 2024 --- Ralph


Below is some basic information (in the form of a first draft-email of 28 January 2023) about spinning from Advisor Rob Stuart, who has been working with us since we began to develop Fabric!

Wool Spinning ... 
The Spinning of wool fiber to make a yarn, is the operation of drafting a roving or a sliver. This is to a required size and thickness and inserting the required number of turns per inch which holds the fibers together and gives the yarn strength.
Wool fiber from the sheep will come in various lengths and due to this are separated and spun in different systems, the Wool and Worsted.
The shorter fibers are usually spun from a roving having been carded on the woolen system. These fibers are made as a single yarn with less turns per inch giving a thicker yarn. (As the fibers in the roving don't have the length to twist together).
The longer fibers are usually spun on the worsted system from a sliver. As the fibers are longer some additional steps may be needed to clean and align the sliver. Combing is one step leaving only the finest fiber in the sliver and as in an untwisted rope form having been combed, is now called top. As the fibers are longer as the combed top, more turns per inch can be inserted. This can also make a finer yarn and as a finer yarn it can also be twisted with another to give a plied yarn.
In Spinning the twist can be in either direction and is usually called a Z-twist from a clockwise rotation or a S-twist made by an counterclockwise rotation. If a single yarn is twisted in one direction, it is usually spun in the opposite when it is being plied to another.