Long Draw Spinning – its how pro spinners do it!

free tutorial for how to long draw spin yarn

Have you ever wanted to spin yarn at lightning speed? Well, too bad because that’s not possible. Spinning yarn ain’t quick (unless you are huge machine in one of those commercial mills) no matter what. Its slow. But handspinning with the long draw method is a pretty fast kind of slow. Its faster then short and medium draw at any rate.

And when you can do the long draw, it looks so effortless and easy. Honestly it looks like magic. It feels a bit like magic for the spinner too. So if you’ve never tried long draw spinning, let’s get you started.

Long draw is for making a woolen-spun yarn. There are other ways to make woolen spun but this is the classic method. Its an old method too and goes well with fiber that has been prepared for spinning by hand. In the videos below, I’m using hand carded alpaca.

Want a refresher on the difference between worsted-spun and woolen spun yarns? I have just the thing. A while back I wrote a snark-filled guide on the difference between worsted and woolen and how they are made. Handspinning is not Hard …Except the Vocabulary has been a popular. People come every day to read that which is very nice and makes me smile and encourages me to be a snarky as I please!

Back to long draw spinning…

In this demo I used alpaca. But this method is great for all sorts of fiber including wool and cotton. Of yes, this is the way to spin cotton. Short-draw cotton spinning is awful/terrible/bad and gives me headaches. When you have short fibers (like cotton), go with a long draw!

The thing is, before you can long draw spin, you have to prep the fiber for it. Worsted-preps aren’t made for this; they are too dense and compact. I use hand carded fiber that I roll into small rolags. Drum-carded fiber made into batts would work but I don’t have a drum carder.


FYI, you can buy me a drum carder for Christmas if you want. I’d let you do that.


So my first video demonstrates how to use hand cards and make rolags.

And the next video demonstrates how to long draw spin them!


If you are trying long draw spinning for the first time here are some words of advice:

  • Don’t sweat the imperfections. Woolen-spun yarns are not smooth.
  • The settings you need on your wheel will take some figuring out. For me, it means using a harder take up (more tension) and a faster speed.
  • Start with a supported long draw and work your way up to unsupported. And don’t forget that spinners spend years/lifetimes getting good at this. If you can’t do it in the first 15 minutes the only one who is surprised at that is you.
  • Breaks happen in woolen spinning. Its very easy to pull that loose fiber fast fast. Fortunately joins in woolen spinning are easy. Just rejoin with the fiber and keep going!


If you like free tutorials, I have more.


I’m pretty sure I have enough of those to keep a crafter happy and avoiding productive work this Sunday. Enjoy!

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13 Comments on "Long Draw Spinning – its how pro spinners do it!"

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How did you know that I am trying to learn longdraw, LOL. You make it look so easy. I’ve been using some crappy roving (not top); I think I need to switch to rolags as they might spin better.


I’m psychotic! I mean psychic! (that’s how I knew)

Long draw is… not as easy as it looks. But using the right prep sure does help. Think puffy, air filled fiber pillows because that is key. And as always good fiber = easier spinning.

But you know that. What are you thinking trying to learn something new with crappy roving? Bad spinner. Go sit in the corner and play with some good fiber until you’ve learned your lesson!


I kinda like hand carding. The bits of fiber blend/cover up all the pet hair and that means….excuse for a messy house! It is not a floor that needs sweeping, it is a useful project.


I like the way you think!


Here is the degree of difficulty I have just trying to get any of this straight in my head: I keep forgetting the difference between worsted- and woolen- fiber prep because they both start with “wo.”
Seriously. 🙁



You can always blame that sort of mental backfire of the distractions in your life. Like bad kitties. Bad kitties that never give you a moment of peace could EASILY be why you can’t keep that straight.


I learned how to make rolags in SCA and it is so far the only part of spinning I can do decently! As always it was great fun to watch you work, and one day (when I can afford a wheel) I will have to learn to do this!


I’ll hold you to that!