Drop spinning your alpaca fiber is an excellent way for you to learn to make yarn. It's simple and inexpensive. You only need three things to start.
1) A drop spindle
2) Carded fiber
3) 18 inch piece of yarn
Your spindle only has three parts:
a) A spindle (the stick part)
b) A Whorl (the round disc part)
c)A hook or groove (the hook or groove part...well, that is simple enough to remember!)
You'll first need to attach that 18 inch piece of yarn to your spindle. Tie one end of the yarn (this demonstration is on a bottom whorl spindle) to the spindle (stick) underneath the whorl (disc) using a square or overhand knot.
At this time you can tie a loop on the other end of the yarn. Now you need to bring the yarn up over the whorl and attach to the spindle at the whorl with a half hitch knot.
Next you will wrap the yarn a couple of times around the spindle to the top. The spindle in the photo has a groove instead of a hook. If you have one with a groove, just attach it with a half hitch knot as you did down by the whorl and slip that into the groove. If you have a hook then attach the yarn to the hook.
Make sure the yarn with the loop is past the end of the tip of the spindle.
Your leader yarn should be completely attached to your spindle so you are ready to start drop spinning.
Draft out some of your fibers from the section of carded wool that you are going to spin. It helps to
your alpaca fiber before drop spinning. We hold the fibers with our right hand and spin with our left. You do whatever is comfortable for you.
Put the drafted out fibers through the loop you made in your yarn then fold them over the yarn and back into the mass of fiber you are holding.
We like to throw the fiber mass over our wrist so that it doesn't get caught in the spindle during spinning. Some people throw it over their shoulder. Do what works for you. You just need to keep these unspun fibers out of the way, but easily available to feed onto the spindle when drafting.
Now spin your spindle so the fibers attach to the leader yarn. Stop the spindle spinning and "park it" between your legs. Hold the twist with your thumb and index finger of your spinning hand to stop the twist running into the fiber mass..
Your drafting hand is the hand that is spinning the spindle. Slide some fibers out a little bit from the mass of fibers you are holding in your non-spinning hand and pinch them with your thumb and index finger of the fiber hand. (You should already be pinching the other end that you twisted with your spinning hand)
Always do your spinning in the same direction. We put a piece of tape with an arrow drawn on our drop spindle to remind us which way to spin. The rule of thumb is to spin clockwise for a single strand of yarn and counterclockwise when plying two strands of yarn together.
Let go of the twist that you have been holding back. Let it run up to where you have the fiber mass pinched off. You just did the inchworm! That's a method of spinning.
Your yarn should have lots of twist. So much twist that it twists back on itself as pictured below.
Now, lets draft out some fibers and do it again. The video below demonstrates the inchworm method.
Inchworm Spinning with a Spindle
1. Holding the twisted fibers with the thumb and index finger of your fiber hand, spin the spindle and put lots of twist in the yarn.
2. Stop the spindle and park it between your legs.
3. Replace your thumb and index finger of your fiber hand with the thumb and index finger of your spinning hand to stop the twist from running into the fiber mass.
4. Draft out some fiber (about an inch or two depending on the length of your fiber) by gently pulling from the mass of fibers.
5. Pinch off the mass of fibers with the thumb and index finger of the fiber holding hand an inch or two away from your other hand.
6. Let go of the twist by releasing the thumb and index finger of your spinning hand and let the twist travel up to the thumb and index finger of your fiber hand.
7. Start over from step one.
I Need Longer Arms for Drop Spinning!
Not really! When your yarn gets too long for your arms to reach, unhook it from the groove or hook and wrap it around the spindle to store it. Re-attach the spun yarn to the hook or groove and start again.
Drop spinning is a simple and economical way to see if you like making your own yarn. We still use our drop spindle even though we have a spinning wheel because it is highly portable and can be done anywhere. Once you learn the inchworm method, you can advance to quicker ways of hand spinning on a spindle.