Wool | Spinning | Terminology of Spinning

Terminology of Spinning

Batt A wide, rolled-up bundle of carded fleece that unrolls into a blanket.  
Bulk Wool's filling power or "bounce" and is the volume occupied by wool fibers. It can be applied to loose wools, sliver, or yarn and is expressed as cm3/g measured in a bulkometer. Loose wools can range from 20 to 35 cm3/g with the values for sliver and yarn being progressively lower.  
Butt-End The end that was cut in shearing the sheep.  
Carding Combing and aligning the fibers of the cleaned fleece. A hand carder or a drum carder is used.  
Drafting Triangle Fanned out fibers forming a triangle between an active hand and a passive hand in spinning.  
Draw A technique of pulling out fibers in the spinning process. The technique includes long draw and short draw.  
Drum Carder A drum-like tool that cards fibers for spinning.  

Raw wool sheered from a sheep or goat before it’s processed into yarn.


Yarn characteristic describing the relationship between yarn's weight and its length. Grist is expressed in units of length per units of weight. (Eg. 10 yards per ounce or 160 yards per pound.)

Hand Carder A tool used to hand card is typically a large paddle set with 1⁄4 inch (0.6 cm) curved metal tines.  

A coil or skein of yarn.

A measurement of the length per unit mass of cloth or yarn, which varies according to the type being measured. A hank of worsted wool is 560 yards long (560 yd/lb = 1.129 km/kg).


A yearling sheep (Brit.).

A lamb between weaning and first shearing (NZ).

Kemp Kemp is generally a chalky-white, brittle, weak fiber which may be mixed with normal fibers in a sheep's wool fleece. Kemp fibers are often detached from the skin. This hair is not desirable in a fleece, as it does not accept dye, minimizing both the quality and the value of the wool.  
Leader A piece of yarn that is attached to the shaft of a bobbin to start spinning new yarn.  
Niddy-Noddy A universal folk name describing a double-headed tool used to skein spun yarn. The implement was called a hand-reel in Colonial days.  
Noil Large clumps of tangled wool and knots combed out of wool fiber before spinning.  
Quill A weaver's spindle.  
Rolag A roll of fibre generally used to spin woollen yarn. A rolag is created by first carding the fibre, using handcards, and then by gently rolling the fibre off the cards. If properly prepared, a rolag will be uniform in width, distributing the fibres evenly.  
Roving Fiber is carded into a long continuous cord that is 2"-3" thick. The fibers are going in multiple directions (but generally more aligned than a rolag or batt). This preparation of fiber is best suited to woolen spinning.  
Scour The textile synonym for washing, especially in the sense of getting something thoroughly clean.  
Sliver Long strips of fiber created by carding or combing and drawing into long strips. Sliver is a thinner version of roving.  
Skein A length of yarn or thread that has been loosely coiled and knotted.  
Skeining Winding the thread off the spindle.  
Skirting The process of removing “junk” wool, stains, second cuts and vegetable matter (VM) from the wool fleece prior to processing or offering for sale.  
Slubs Thick and thin areas in spun yarn.  
Spinning Count A measure of wool diameter developed in England. It is defined as the number of hanks of yarn that can be spun from a pound of clean wool top.  
Suint (Pronounced Soo-INT). Concentrated sheep sweat. It consists largely of potassium-based salts of fatty acids, combined with sulfate, phosphate, and nitrogen compounds. The “grease” part is a form of wax. In the trade, this stuff is referred to as wool fat. As extracted from the scouring process, it is called degras, and in a refined form comes to market as lanolin.  
Top Fiber is combed to provide spinning fiber in which all the fibers are parallel. This preparation of fiber is best suited to worsted or semi worsted spinning.  
Woolen A yarn spun from a rolag using a long draw technique. Woolen yarn is soft, light, stretchy, and full of air as opposed to worsted yarn that is strong, dense, and sleek.  

1. A technique that involves spinning of long parallel fibers all aligned in the same direction from butt-end to tip. A short draw is used to spin worsted wool. The contrasting technique is woolen.

2. A particular weight of yarn that produces a gauge of 16–20 stitches per 4 inches of stockinette, and is best knitted with 4.5mm to 5.5mm needles (US size 7–9).

WuzzingSpinning out the water when washing, scouring, and rinsing fleece or yarn. It operates on the same principle as the spin cycle on a washing machine.