Get Cored – How I learned to make core spun yarns


Tonight I’m thinking about those people that are just never satisfied with hand-made gifts. You know who I’m talking about, right? Of course you do! Lol. We all do. You give that certain someone a hand knit or a hand crocheted lovely thingy and you hear a version of this:

“That’s so nice! I love it. Yes…. very nice….. hmmm.”

“What? You don’t like it?”

“No, I do. Its nice. But it would be perfect if you had made it a bit larger / a bit shorter / a darker shade of blue / a sweater instead of a pair of socks.”

Well, I have a close friend, Shery, and she is THE EXACT OPPOSITE of that. She has raptures over my knitting. She loves every design I’ve ever thought up, including the ones that got ripped up, ripped out, and no longer exist. She showers me with so many complements that other people within earshot feel compelled to tell me how awesome I am too. Its a bit ridiculous.

I make stuff for her all the time. You would too. Its great for the ego.

Shery is a crocheter, so for her last birthday I decided I make some core spun yarn for her to play with. I’d never made core spun yarn in my life. Naturally I decided to make a pound of it.

In core spinning you start with un-spun roving and a commercial yarn. The commercial yarn is thin, light weight and forms the core. The roving is wrapped around it at a sideways angle. Core spinning technique is the work horse, the go-to method for all sorts of lovely one-of-a-kind art yarns. Like this:

No, that’s not mine. Lololol. That’s from Wild Violets.

I knew mine wouldn’t quite that eye-popping but I was able to proceed with confidence knowing that if it came out even just half-way decent, Shery would love it. Also, if it was a bit late, which it was, she would totally forgive me because she’s a crafter too and understands hand-made stuff is always late. Always.

So I decided Shery would get my first ever core-spun yarn. Then I decided that was a terrible idea and did some practicing with rough, scratchy red and black Jacob’s wool. Good thing. I needed the practice in a big way. That first-ever core spun was so spectacularly bad it went straight from the bobbin to the trash can. I didn’t even show it to the cats.

But the next attempt went much better. The most important thing I learned from that red and black Jacobs attempt was to use a core yarn that is the same color as your roving. That way when a bit of the core shows through (like it does in mine) no one will be able to see it. Its like cheating!

Here was my fiber and the yarn I used for the core:


The core is mystery yarn I found in my stash closet. Its a 2ply, lace weight, and mostly acrylic. The fiber is a hand-prepared purple merino with silk noils from Fiber for Ewe, which is sadly out of business now. See that white core yarn? It looks just like those white silk noils. When my wrapping got a little wonky and the core showed through it looked just like the noil-y part of the yarn. Ha! I do love cheating.

I did my core spinning in one step, pulling the core yarn right from the cone, spinning in the S direction, and wrapping my roving as I went. Going in the S direction un-plyed the core yarn which allowed it to get grabby and hold that roving tight. I have read that some spinners prefer to prep the core yarn first by winding it onto a bobbin, letting it un-ply, setting that bobbin in a lazy kate, and then spinning with the roving. I don’t mind extra steps but I found the one step method in a post on and it worked for me.

I did a lot of stripping and attenuating the roving at first but the more I spun (a pound is a lot!) the less fiber prep I had to do. The fiber is held to the side, perpendicular to the core yarn. I wanted to show pictures of each step but its tough to get a picture of yourself spinning since spinning required both hands. Its even tougher when you live with the Anti-Spinning Feline Overlord.


But I did get one decent picture of the actual spinning:


Once off the bobbin the yarn is over-spun somewhat and a bit kinky. But after good soak and dry


they came out pretty even.


By the end I had 800 yds of aran weight yarn finished to give to Shery. It was only …. 20 days past her birthday. Not too bad right? And, oh, yeah, she loved it. She had the pattern picked out for her new yarn before I was finished making it. She was working it up by the very next day.

I like core spinning. I’m going to do more of it. Its fast, works up a thick puffy single, and it uses up yarn stash! You can’t beat that.

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"There is no failure. Only feedback." - Robert Allen

1 Comment on "Get Cored – How I learned to make core spun yarns"

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Jean Sensat

Loved reading about your technique. Something I’ll have to try later.