Spin Along Week 2 - Shetland, Twist, and Setting Your Handspun!

Spin Along Week 2 - Shetland, Twist, and Setting Your Handspun!

Posted by Annie on Jun 28th 2021

Welcome to Week Two! This week we will be spinning the Shetland fiber (or whatever you have in your stash!) in the three different yarn weights - fingering, sport and worsted!

Shetland fleece has many grades and exceptionally wide natural color range to please a wide range of spinners! Shetland sheep originated in Scotland and due to the wet weather in this country, Shetland wool is very dense at the base and has lots of water-wicking properties. Shetlands can be double coated or single coated, and come in 11 different natural colors. Shetland is known to vary in micron count and it also varies from sheep to sheep, so some tops are finer than others. When spinning shetland from multiple sheep strains, but for the same yarn, be aware that the fiber may differ. Fiber micron count is 20-30 (depending on sheep strain).

You will find some guard hairs, those can cause some irritation when wearing shetland wool close to the skin. You see a “halo” when spinning this fiber, this is the guard hairs.

Natural Colors come in all shades of white, creams, tans, browns, gray and black.

The staple length is 2”-10”, which once again varies from sheep to sheep.

Fun Fact - Shetland sheep have a wonderful temperament and are very friendly!

Shetland Sheep

Photo Copyright  The Livestock Conservancy

I have noticed in the Facebook Community that a lot of people are worried about the amount of twist in the yarn. The fingering weight samples you make will need more twist than the worsted weight. If your yarn goes from heavier weight to lighter weight (especially within a small area) the twist will tend to pool to the finer areas, which could cause pigtails in your yarn if there was already enough twist. Pigtails are those areas where your yarn tends to spiral forming what looks like a pig's tail!

An even consistent spin won't have those, but don’t fret if your singles have some, we are learning! I also noticed that some of those pigtails get dispersed when you set your yarn. Practice, practice, pratice is the key to consistent twist and yarn size. (I know, no one wants to hear this!)

Twist can be documented and checked with a protractor and counting twist per inch (TPI). Keeping track of these things while spinning, along with WPI, will really help to keep your yarn consistent. It is definitely easier to count twists per inch on plied yarns than with singles. You will hold your yarn along a ruler and count (to the best of your ability) how many twists your single has, and once you have located the twists, you can hold a protractor over it and find the angle of your twist. Here is a great informational post about twist angles, https://www.hjsstudio.com/twistangle.html

While I was spinning the Shetland, I noticed about nicely this fiber drafted and how there was almost a loftiness to this top. While spinning it had a great halo and even after steam setting it kept that fuzziness that would add lots of texture to knitting and weaving projects!

Shetland is the coarsest fiber (on paper, remember how many variants of this fiber are available), but really spins like a dream. The shetland we have provided can definitely be used next to skin and for outerwear projects. Yarns can soften once they are set, but not too much more.

Below is a video we made about steam setting your singles. The best advice I can give from experience is do not overload your Niddy Noddy. This will make it harder to get to the yarns laying underneath, so you will have to continually manipulate your singles on the niddy noddy so the steam can get to 100% of your handspun. I would have maybe max 20-30 wraps around a medium size Niddy Noddy, this will leave room for steam to get in and will also be enough to knit or weave a sample.

You can also steam set your singles in batches, so fill up your niddy noddy to the appropriate amount to steam, steam the singles, take off that batch and do it again. I know that takes time, but it may save you time if you are trying to steam too much yarn at one time.

We have also talked about setting yarns on a PVC Niddy Noddy by submerging the yarn and niddy noddy completely in warm water and allowing the twist to be set that way. You will soak twice: once with the yarn the way you have it on the NN, then when it dries scoot (that's a technical term) the skein so the yarn that was against the arm of the NN is now in the open space between the arms, so it can be accessed by water. Then do another soak. If you do the scooting step, you will have four spots on your skein that look different/are not set!

I hope everyone is enjoying the Shetland fiber! Post your questions, comments, and pictures so we can all see what you ate up to! See you Wednesday!