This is a video clip illustrating the worsted draft. It looks deceptively simple, rhythmic, smooth, and easy. In many ways it is and in many ways it isn't. Timing, choice of drive speed, choice of the amount of fiber, treadling speed and a comfortable take up make it easy. In the beginning it is a lot to understand so just concentrate on one thing at a time. For now watch the video, watch the rhythm, and listen to the simple instructions then read further to begin to understand exactly what is happening.
**Side Note** The worsted draft has been called numerous names, short forward draft, supported draft, and inch worm, to name a few. I personally like fingered draft, since you are fingering the twist as it moves into the drafted fibers creating a smoother less fuzzy yarn.
This draft has two major parts, for the forward hand. I'll describe each separately and try to point out the intricacies of each so that I can answer questions I think you might have. I can't talk fast enough or treadle slow enough to get all the information in while spinning. I would have to talk like the full disclosure guy on the advertisements and still not get it all said.
First, the back hand, the fiber holding hand, fortunately only has one task, simply to present fibers for drafting. The grip of this hand is relaxed and gentle, the way you would hold a pet bird so you don't squeeze too tightly. Or think of the way you would hold a sleeping child, so you wouldn't wake them or drop them.
Start with the yarn taut from the orifice and your hands about 2/3 of a fiber length apart. Get the wheel moving to the right, which is the Z direction. Begin the drafting. As long as your feet are treadling your hands should be moving. If you need to stop your hands, stop your feet first pressing down so the wheel is stopped.
Part One for the active hand, which is your forward hand. This hand almost never stops moving. This hand uses a firm pinch while the hands move apart and the fibers are drafted to a certain amount. Experience is your biggest teacher here. Look close at the amount I leave to get the twist and then size of my yarn.
Next Part Two, the forward hand releases the grip just enough to slide on top of the newly drafted fibers until the hands are now about 2/3 of the fiber length apart. If you slide until your hands become too close then the next set of fibers will not draft easily.
The BIG explanation of this Part One: In the video I am also moving newly formed yarn toward the orifice while I'm drafting and moving my hands apart. So I must be aware of two things that are occurring simultaneously. I must move the yarn into the orifice in a timely manner. If it moves in too slowly then it will gain too much twist and begin to "krink" up and resist moving into the orifice. Alas, this compounds itself with the next slow draft.
The other thing I must be aware of is how many fibers I am leaving in the drafting zone. The most difficult tendency for beginners is to leave too many fibers while moving their hands too slowly. More fibers create a thicker yarn which needs less twist and needs to move quicker into the orifice . Usually this happens because of fear that the fibers will come apart, so the thought is more fibers will be stronger. BAMP!!! Wrong answer! More fibers while the hands are moving slowly is one recipe for the dreaded OVER TWIST.
The great thing about this drafting style is the stability. Once you have drafted the fibers, if you don't pull the fibers apart, they won't come apart. Usually you should aim toward a thinner yarn, drafting until there are fewer fibers ready to get the twist, as that gives your hands and your feet a better chance to settle into a rhythm. It is actually okay to spin thin on a slow speed. Many historical wheels had only one or two speeds. If the spinner needed more twist they would treadle more since they often didn't have another speed choice.
Allow yourself to draft a bit fewer fibers and to spin thinner, as you can confidence with this draft. Just remember fewer fibers need a bit more twist to hold them
The BIG explanation for Part Two: The sliding grip is very important to understand. The tight grip is quickly relaxed so the forward hand slides over the newly drafted fibers toward the back hand. You will feel the twist moving right under your finger tips. The twist
will follow your forward hand if the yarn between your hand and the
orifice is taut. When the wheel is in motion it should always be taut.
If you don't release the grip enough, as the hands move toward each other, the yarn can be pulled out of the orifice and off of the bobbin. That is the exact opposite of what needs to happen. Unfortunately, another way to get the dreaded OVER TWIST.
If you release the grip too much then the twist will usually move between your hands. That often allows the twist to grab onto too many fibers and making it difficult to begin drafting the next time.
The speed of your hands is dictated by the number of fibers and the speed of the flyer. The speed of the flyer comes from the drive whorl chosen and the speed of the treadling.
But if your drive band is on the slowest - largest drive whorl, the single treadle spinners can count like a waltz, Uh, One, two, three, One, two, three. Here the One is your stronger downward push. Double treadle spinners need to think of a much slower One, two, three four; alternating feet of course.
When mastered the worsted or fingered draft can be very precise, smooth, and calming.