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This irresistible baby schnecke of my handspun might be all the persuasion you need to take up spinning, but I’ll outline a few more of the benefits for you.


Every step you take in spinning will make you a better knitter. Learning to spin as a knitter makes the knitting part of your brain light up like a pinball machine. You will become intimately acquainted with fiber, draft, and ply, and see and feel how they interact and affect your knitting. 

If you are interested in history and textiles, the evolution of spinning is rich—from the first spindles through the industrial revolution. If sustainable fashion is your thing, you can’t go wrong with wool. You can buy wool to spin from a shepherd in your area from a sheep named Mabel, and create beautiful knitted things that will last decades while keeping your carbon footprint small.

Mabel, is that you?

Choice and Creativity

What is it you want? Yarns that behave in a specific way, cables that pop, lace that stays open, a sweater that has heirloom quality, a yarn that doesn’t pill, colors that flow? 

It’s all in your hands. Granted at first it may seem a little overwhelming, but as with learning to knit, if you go about in steps and enjoy the process, you’ll be spinning for any project you can think of in no time. 

If texture and color are more your thing, you can create loops, spirals, and add beads and flowers to your yarn. Your color could be a quiet gradient or an explosion of color confetti. Think of all of those braids you’ve seen at fiber shows. All that color could flow through your hands in myriad ways.

And—since I’m riffing on reasons to spin that start with C—how about cure? You can spin to relax. You could wake up and have a morning yarn meditation, or you could smooth the bumps out of your day by spinning into the night.

You can spin just to make yarn; you never have to do anything with it except enjoy the process. Worried about yarn piling up? Your knitting friends will line up to get their hands on your handspun.


Spinners, shepherds, and dyers will enlarge your craft family, and they will snuggle up nicely to your knitting circle. 

Going to fiber events will change for you. You’ll want to participate in what goes on in the barns and buildings that aren’t yarn booths—you’ll find yourself in line for the fleece sale, taking spinning classes, and hunting for beautiful carded batts and dyed braids. You’ll speak intelligently to shepherds, and teachers, and ask anyone and everyone their opinion on which spinning wheel you should buy next.

I won’t deny that spinning is a rabbit hole of epic proportions and that, like fellow knitters, spinners are world-class enablers. Before you know it, your house will have spinning wheels, spindles, and fiber sitting next to your yarn stash. Along with your new toys and tools, you’ll be headed out each week for a spin-in with your new friends. 

Once you knit with your handspun, there’s no going back. It feels more alive that commercial yarns, and you can make it look any way your heart desires—plus it plays oh so nicely with your commercial yarn stash.

How to Spin, Right Now

Spin a little! Just like learning to knit, learning to spin is easy and it’s not. The concept is simple, but it takes practice. There are classes at yarn shops and at fiber shows. There are also books, videos, online classes, and blogs, but nothing beats sitting shoulder to shoulder with a person who can demonstrate, observe your spinning, and answer questions.

You could try a little spinning right now at home. Get some cotton balls (the cotton from a pill bottle also works) and preferably a large paper clip.

  • Open the paper clip until it forms a hook with a handle.
  • Fluff your cotton. You want to loosen the fibers and open them up. It’s OK if they tear a little. I used three small cotton balls.
  • Hook your paper clip into the cotton.
  • Now here’s the tricky part—it’s all about finding the balance in tension and twist. Start twisting the paper clip away from you, and at the same time slowly pull the cotton mass away from the paper clip.

What you are looking and feeling for is the twist to catch the cotton fibers and twist them together. 

You want a balance between the amount of twist and the spooling out or drafting of the cotton. If you pull your cotton too fast or twist too slowly as you pull, your yarn will break. If you pull your cotton too slowly or twist too quickly in relation to the pulling of your cotton, your yarn locks up and it’s hard to pull your cotton. You want to go to that Goldilocks zone of just right.

I made a teeny tiny video for you here. (Please don’t mind my digging-in-the-garden hands.)

You will feel it when you get it, just like knitting. Your little cotton yarn will be lumpy and bumpy, but it will be yarn you made, and you might just be hooked.

Save it for later. Here’s how to save this article to your MDK account.



About The Author

Jillian Moreno spins, knits and weaves just so she can touch all of the fibers. She wrote the book Yarnitecture: A Knitter’s Guide to Spinning: Building Exactly the Yarn You Want so she could use all of the fiber words. Keep up with her exploits at


  • Great article! Almost makes me want to try again. The best thing I took away from a workshop on using a drop spindle is a newfound appreciation for the artists who do spin. And yes, a newfound understanding of the yarn I knit with.

  • I took a spinning class last year and learned a LOT. Though tricky at first–like riding a bicycle–I finally got the hang of it and, like Jillian said in the article, I found it meditative. This year I brought my spindle and wool to show my class of 4th graders. I hadn’t done any spinning in a year, but when I picked up the wool and spindle the motions came right back so it is like riding a bike.

  • Fairly new spinner here. I am about two and a half years in and I love it! The feel of the fiber slipping through your hands, watching the singles build up on the bobbin and then seeing it all come together in the ply. Magic.

  • I am a lifelong knitter who has recently become a spinner. Learning to spin using the park and draft method is what got me going. I am now addicted. I look forward to spinning all different kinds of fiber — but am especially drawn to the Shave em to Save em campaign of the Livestock Conservancy.

  • As a spinner I agree with all of this. You can make the yarn you want. Thank you for the quick demo at the end. I am doing a spinning demo tomorrow and what a nice easy way to get kids involved with hands on materials.

  • As a new spinner, I love how different fibers act and feel. I agree with all your reasons to give it a try. There’s so much on you tube about spinning and wheels but your book, Yarnitecture, is where I go when I have a quick question!

  • I read this just as I’m about to run off to the Shenandoah fiber festival where sadly my drop spindle class was canceled. I’d love to hear from others about in person classes etc to learn to spin. I understand it helps to be in a place where different wheels are available so you can pick a favorite! Thanks for this article!

    • Tina, not sure where you are but a couple of LYS in the greater DC area offer beginning spinning classes.

  • I’m a spindle spinner. No classes around here so I learned from Abby Franquemont on YouTube and others. Abby’s a wonderful person and teacher. When you spin you make as you go. I spin, knit it up, spin more etc. I dye my yarn, too, using natural dyes from local plants.

    It takes a bit of learning but it’s such a thrill. I don’t like the wheel. For me it’s spindles all the way!I’m glad you’re remembering it’s not all about buying ready made yarn.

  • I have done a tiny bit of spinning with my drop spindle and the tiny video was actually really helpful. The speed of spinning has always made it harder for me to learn and the cotton ball spin is nice and slow!

  • Remember learning to knit? You probably didn’t make a cabled sweater for your first project. Spinning is the same way. Take it slowly and be patient. I would spin a few minutes every day, until I was ready to throw something, and then stop. Gradually I increased my time and my comfort level. Also like knitting, a “mistake” can become a design element.

  • Yes! Spinners are great enablers! I’m amazed at how fiber seems to just magically appear around here.

  • Temptress begone. Hahahahah. This for me is one of those “know your limits” things, and I already don’t have enough time to knit or enough space for all my knitting accoutrement. BUT – one of my favorite things as a child was to go to the Norsk Fest at the college where my dad taught and sit and card wool with the spinner who was there every year. My mom is a weaver, and my grandmother was a knitter – so fiber runs in my veins. All that said, I have a stack of quilting books, equipment for paper quilling, and I am about to pull the trigger on a braided rug online class. So – spinning must wait……….for now………

    • I restarted for a long time, too. I wish I hadn’t waited, but I’m glad I started

      • *resisted (sorry, I forgot to proofread)

  • I love creating my own yarn. It makes it’s personal and totally unique every day every time. But when I just want to knit I turn to the wonderful MDK yarn choices. I’ve been known to knit a sweater as I spun the yarn, oh yes! I’ll need another skein to finish the sleeves. I get impatient to see how it will knit up.

  • What a synchronous coincidence to read an article by you here today! I just spent the last month spinning and plying, and studying Yarnitecture from beginning to end, and it helped me advance my spinning tremendously. I am very excited about improving and trying new techniques once I feel more confident about getting what I am working on now (trying to spin enough for a sweater) to be more consistent. Yes, I am smitten with spinning too. You are right, aside from wanting to make my own unique knits and woven items with my own designed yarn, it is making me appreciate commercial yarn so much more. Now I understand why I like Atlas so much, and why it is worth every penny too.

  • I watched in awe a woman who was spinning at the Taos Fall Festival and I’m not taking on anything else because although I have been knitting for 40 years I am still learning how to knit but it is amazing

  • What Jilian said.

  • I am so torn — give up knitting time???? And yet, intuitively, I know I would love spinning.

  • Your beautiful skeins would tempt a corpse into spinning. At a wheel….

  • I love that you’re spinning a cotton ball; you can spin anything! I have several drop spindles; I just don’t bring them out often enough. Too busy knitting, mostly! But I do love how spinning gives me a better understanding of my yarn.

  • I so enjoyed your article ”Why You Might Want to Learn to Spin”, and I concur with all your reasons. However, you have not included an important reason for me: SPINNING my DOG’s fleece! My beloved dog, a poodle mix, had the best hair for spinning. For many winters, and more to come (now 30 years after his passing) I wear a sweater I knit from yarn I spun his coat. What a treasure to be near him! He had to be groomed several times a year, I became a practiced shearer, and after a few years had enough to spin. If interested internet search ‘spinning dog hair’ .

  • Yup, as a long time knitter, I went down the spinning rabbit hole a few years ago. Never regretted it! Started out with a spindle, now own two antique spinning wheels. I’m always looking for new things to spin to add color or texture to my knitting. My latest is spinning horsehair (from my horse clipping) to my wool and alpaca. It is a powerful feeling, knowing I’ve created something from the ground up (so to speak), and I’ve keep my carbon footprint small too. Try it!! You’ll love it!!

  • I learned to spin about seven years ago, and love it. I spin the same yarn every time – a simple two-ply – because that’s what is comfortable and easy for me. And that’s fine! I’ve made a bunch of shawls with my handspun, some hats and fingerless mitts, and last year a sweater! (And promptly got pregnant so haven’t been able to wear it yet. Hopefully soon.) I have three Shetland sheep in my backyard and a closet full of their fiber, but I also belong to a fiber of the month club run by my favorite dyer, and I usually go for the pretty colors over my own wool. (Although the sweater was a mix of both.)

    I find in times of extreme stress, I cannot knit. (Early pandemic, after giving birth, after my sister died, etc.) Craft is how I relax, so that was challenging. But I can still spin. The feel of wool going through my hands is soothing, and that brought me back to my crafting and eventually I was able to knit again.

    • (Heart)

  • And after you learn to spin, you will want your own sheep… mine are Miles and Olive.

  • I tried spinning about 5 years ago. It took a while to get the hang of it, but I love it.So meditative. Jillian’s book Yarnitecture is great! I highly recommend it, even if you don’t spin. Try a drop spindle first, you can even make your own.

  • What a great way to try out handspinning…I’m already lost in the rabbit hole of epic proportions-when the rescue squad comes I may leap over to the spinning universe rabbit

  • Being a male of the species I encourage anyone (male or female) to venture into any if the textile crafts it could very well become an insatiable hobby for you as it has for me and you too can learn why a pullover will last more than fifty years as it has for me on more than just one occasion. I will do these crafts until I’m hopefully taken to the next life with Heavenly Father and hopefully also make pullovers for Heavenly Father to be distributed all over Heaven
    (coukd tgat ever be possibke, ciuld soneone please help me to make it so?

  • As a 9 year old boy I could not have had the maturity way back then that knitting (and more recently, about 30:years ago, spinning would become the legacy from grandma that it has been).
    I’m absolutely convinced that Heavenly Father through His Holy spirit b played a significant part in initiating my start in my textile crafting interests because at 81 years if age I look back over the years if knitting and soinning and continually give thanks and oraise to Gid that I have been blessed with these crafts for a purpose by helping me through so many otherwise troublesome tines.

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