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Wet Fingers & Flax Drafting


Wetting my forward hand while the back hand holds onto the point of twist.




Only using my back hand to direct/funnel the fibers to my wet forward hand 



Bringing the twist up the fibers, wetting them at the point of twist.


Q: I watched the Cotton, Silk, and Flax dvd. It was very interesting and helpful. When you were here, you taught me to use one hand for drafting the flax but in the video you use both hands. Did you discover that it was better with one hand? If so, why?

A: Yes, I have learned a great deal more about flax since the video was created. I find I prefer my yarns that have been spun with much wetter hands and more twist than I was using at that time of the DVD.  I try to keep my wet forward hand on the point of twist, (that place where the twist ends and unspun fiber begins), so that I can finger in as many fibers as possible. Wet-spinning the extra twist makes the yarn shinier and less apt to get fuzzy as a finished piece.

This is not the only choice, I have watched other spinners who prefer to alternate their wet hands. However, once the fibers in the drafting zone become wet it is harder to see and guage exactly what is happening. And damp fibers are harder to re-open if that section that has too many or too few fibers.

Here is the sequence, when I wet-spin flax First I need a towel on my lap and perhaps under my extended legs as I drip water everywhere.
  1. Staying out away from the orifice, I hold the point of twist with my back hand while I wet my finger and thumb of my front hand.
  2. Then I replace my wet hfingers on the point of twist and move back into the drafting mode. The back hand lightly funnels the fibers, but the distaff is actually holding the flax.
  3. Then when my fingers are still damp but no longer wet, I re-place my backhand on the point of twist while I reach forward and wet my front finger and thumb.
It is rather seamless now that I have repeated it so often. I usually continue to treadle while exchanging hands and wetting my fingers.  I also wet my fingers when I am plying. During plying I keep my wet front index finger between the plys and my thumb and middle finger on each side. Since the back hand is tensioning the two plys, I rewet my front hand when I have brought the twist all the way back on the tensioned plys and while I am moving the plied yarn into the orifice.  Although I prefer wet-spun yarn, it is easier for new students to start spinning flax with dry fiber so you could see the drafting process and guage how much twist is needed, before beginning to wet-spin flax.
PatsyZ