Spinning Wheel Troubleshooting: How to Fix Common Problems

full bobbin of yarn

Photo via Hedgehog Fibers under Creative Commons license

When you’re first learning how to spin, you may get stumped by some common spinning wheel problems. Don’t despair! We’re here to help ease the frustration you may be facing with some spinning wheel troubleshooting. Trust us — you can figure it out!

Why won’t my yarn wind on?

This is one of the most common spinning wheel problems when you’re first starting out.

First, check that everything on the wheel is in the right place. Is your drive band seated properly? Is your bobbin correctly positioned? Is your brake band on?

Is the yarn looped around the hook or loop? This happens often to me — the twist in the yarn makes it liable to loop back on itself and get caught.

The yarn not winding onto the bobbin can be an indication that the brake tension is too low. Try taking the brake band off, then putting it back on with the tension very loose. Then slowly increase the tension until you can feel the wheel pulling the yarn into the orifice. You want just enough tension to pull the yarn in, but not so much that it yanks out of your hands (see the next question).

Lastly, make sure you’re not holding the yarn too tightly. Beginners often hold onto the fiber supply for dear life, but you need to let go a little in order for the spun yarn to wind on.

My yarn is winding on too tightly!

spinning yarn

Photo via Pixabay

If it feels like you’re fighting with the wheel, that it wants to yank the spun and not-yet-spun fiber out of your hands, the brake tension is too tight.

Take the brake band off, then put it back on with the tension very loose. Slowly increase the tension until you can feel the wheel pulling the yarn into the orifice. You might also want to try putting your drive band onto a larger whorl, which causes twist to enter the fiber more slowly.

My wheel keeps going backwards! What do I do?

It’s all practice! Try treadling without any fiber on the wheel to get it going consistently in one direction, then the other. Take note of where the drive wheel needs to be in relation to the treadles in order to make it rotate the direction you want. It’s also totally okay to use your hand to push the wheel in the correct direction.

Why is treadling so hard?

spinning on a louet

Photo via Flickr user Eunice under Creative Commons license

Check over your wheel to make sure all the bands and hooks are moving smoothly.

Depending on your spinning wheel, adding a couple drops of spinning wheel oil to the moving parts will help lubricate and reduce friction. Treadling generally requires more force on bobbin-led wheels with Irish tension, such as several Louet spinning wheels.

Why do I get blobs of yarn on the bobbin?

Change hooks or move the slide clip more often. When you’re just starting on a new bobbin, you’ll need to change hooks quite often since you’re close to the bobbin’s core. Generally, it’s a good idea to begin winding on at one end of the bobbin, then move up one hook at a time to the other end before coming back again.

If you hate changing hooks and just want to spin, the Woolee Winder might be a good option. This third-party flyer is made to fit various spinning wheel models, and uses gears to automatically slide the yarn guide up and down the bobbin as you spin.

I lost my yarn end! What do I do?

Don’t panic! Stop spinning and take a good look at your bobbin. Massage it a little and maybe the yarn end will pop out. If you know which hook you were on, starting looking there. You can also try using a piece of clear tape, patting it up and down the bobbin to see if anything comes loose. If you still can’t find it, a last-resort option is to (carefully) cut a strand of your singles close to where you think you lost your end, then pull yarn off the bobbin until the end reveals itself.

Take our online spinning class!

Enjoy personalized, up-close guidance on using your wheel and other essential spinning skills in the Craftsy class Foundations of Spinning with Amy King.

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