Blind Spot

I have to tell you something very silly I did.

When I was first coming back to spinning, I was hearing about the different drafts. Short forward draw made sense to me; it came naturally. In that draft, your fibre hand is still, and your drafting hand moves back and forth from the fibre source. It is sometimes described with the word “inchworm.”

One of many yarns I have made with SFD (short forward draft).

When I heard about short backward draft, I just assumed it meant the opposite. Your hand closer to the oriface holds still, while the hand holding the fibre pulls back and feeds the fibre forward. This was just a guess. I tried that a few times, it didn’t work, so I just figured short backward isn’t for me.

Here’s the funny part: it never occurred to me that my guess was wrong.

So when I saw other spinners doing short backward draw as something different, I just subconsciously assumed they were doing something else and calling it short backwards draft. Which I had already decided wasn’t for me. Which meant I wasn’t going to try that.

My assumption turned into absolute cement in my brain, such that I as a beginner thought that spinning teachers were wrong about something I had never done. All in my subconscious. That is so ridiculous as to deserve all those italics. Aren’t brains weird?!

Finally it began to occur to me that maybe I should try what I was seeing, that I might be missing out on something.

When I did, it was a revelation.

What you actually do in short backwards draft is that your fibre holding hand drafts backwards, then your other hand smooths backwards to meet it. Both hands move back, one at a time. This is repeated a few times times, then you feed the yarn onto the wheel as both your hands move forward.

What really surprised me is how fast this technique is.

Compare with short forward. In SFD, one hand is moving back and forth, over and over. You can only draft as fast as your arm or wrist can move back and forth, shifting direction repeatedly. I usually get into a nice rhythm in which my hand is moving at the same tempo that my feet are treadling.

In short backwards draw, your limbs are only moving in one direction. Your hands inch backwards one at a time, and don’t have to change direction until you wind on. That was instantly so much faster, from that simple difference of not changing directions as often. I couldn’t treadle fast enough to keep up with how fast my hands wanted to go, even with some fibre that wasn’t that well prepared. Suddenly a ratio of 27:1 made sense to me.

I’m not sure it’ll ever become a default for me unless I change how I sit. For relaxing back into a couch, SFD is my preference. But for the pure speed in a more worsted draft, I’m thinking about trying more SBD, and sitting up in a straight backed chair.

I like to think I’m open minded, but the thing about being closed minded is you might not know when it’s happening! There’s a reason they call it a blind spot. Anyway, I’m grateful that the lightbulb came on for this spin.

Do you have any stories about finding out that you didn’t know what you didn’t know?

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