Spinning Hacks: Changing What You Do When What You Do Hurts!

I am a self-taught spinner since the mid 1980’s and after all those years of spinning I have terrific muscle memory and rarely stop to think about how I handle the fiber I’m spinning. That didn’t used to be a bad thing, but the older I get and the more my left shoulder bothers me I need to change my approach and retrain my left arm and my brain.

I have switched to a short, forward draw from a modified long draw with my left hand. Most of what I spin is combed top anyway so the shorter forward motion is better for the fiber prep and gives me better control over the singles I’m spinning. When I am plying yarn is when I run into trouble since I can ply much faster than I can spin singles and I tend to want to do those sweeping movements with my whole arm. Yeah. That’s got to change.

I started out holding the fiber closer to my lap with my left hand. (I began spinning with a drop spindle and drafted the fiber with my left hand while turning the spindle with my right hand, and when I started spinning on a wheel the right hand draw felt weird so I stuck with left hand draw.) Now I am using my right hand to draft fiber forward from my stationary left hand. It’s a struggle at the best of times but I’m beginning to adjust.

I’ve also tried tucking my left elbow next to my side and relaxing my left shoulder which seems to be working better.

Another thing I’ve learned is to use a mirror to one side of the wheel while spinning so that I can check the way the bobbin is filling without having to stop and lean forward for a better look at my Kromski Sonata flyer. Works great!

If you look closely you can see the bobbin reflected in the mirror. It’s actually closer than that and easier to see in real life.

Another important thing is a good chair to sit in while spinning. I’ve had this office chair for over twenty years since I bought it for our computer desk when we had our first Gateway desktop computer in 2001. It has a high back and lumbar support as well as being adjustable in height. I need to raise it a tad higher to spin than I do when seated at the desk because the treadles are higher than a traditional spinning wheel. I make sure my shoulders are touching the back of the chair as I spin so I don’t end up hunched over the wheel and strain my upper back and shoulders. (This wheel is portable in that it folds and can be slipped into a carry case.)

I haven’t done much spinning this year compared to last year and the year before when I was very productive and I finally realized that it’s because of the arthritis in my left shoulder. (The photo above is yarn that I spun in the Spring and Summer of 2020, several pounds of yarn. Some of those are 8 oz skeins.) So, I’ve made the above mentioned adjustments to how I handle the fiber and watch my posture and I don’t sit for hours on end without a break. One of the good things about my new Fitbit is that ten minutes to the hour during the day I get a reminder to get up and move if I’ve been sitting for awhile.

And, speaking about the Fitbit, it’s a shame that treadling a spinning wheel and drafting fiber for an hour doesn’t count as exercise. Just sayin. And my Fitbit just buzzed me. I’ve been sitting long enough and need to get moving. Have a blessed Saturday, ya’ll. Time to brew some coffee and attempt to be somewhat social…

Published by thenerdyyarnlady

I am a Native Texan, Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother, Catholic Convert residing in rural North East Texas since 1975 when I married my husband and this small town girl became a country girl. I was taught to knit at the age of ten and discovered the writings of Elizabeth Zimmerman shortly after I married. I learned to ‘unvent’ things as I went along, to create my own patterns and generally have a blast with yarn and needles. In the mid 1980’s I explored the idea of spinning my own yarn and eventually got interested in weaving on a floor loom. I have three spinning wheels and a 24″ four-shaft Herald floor loom that I purchased from a friend in the 1990’s. I also enjoy sewing, tatting and making rosaries. I have a work room that contains my fiber, yarn, floor loom, sewing machines, serger and rosary making supplies. I have a spinning corner in a bedroom next to my work room, both with north windows looking toward the creek.

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