Core spinning involves wrapping fibers around a strand of spun yarn. The fibers cover the strand of yarn, which becomes the “core” of the new yarn.
You can use virtually anything for a core: another strand of handspun, thread, commercial yarn… Here I used a commercial fingering weight acrylic yarn that’s been sitting in my stash for quite a while. (Why did I ever buy acrylic sock yarn? Oh yeah, it was really cheap.) I finally found a way to use some of it up.
How to Core Spin
Feed your core into the wheel slowly, typically spinning in the same direction that the core yarn was spun. Hold the fiber against the yarn almost perpendicular to the core and the twist in the core will grab the fibers, wrapping them around the core. It’s a little funky to get used to, but when you do it’s pretty quick and simple.
The yarn here was spun using combed top, so all of the fibers were straight and mostly parallel to one another. This made it easy for me to produce a smooth and firm yarn. Different fiber preparations will produce different types of yarn: some spinners core spin from batts or even uncombed locks, resulting in yarns with spectacular character.
To finish this yarn in a way that locked the core on the inside, I used warm water with a bit of soap and agitation then shocked it with cold water. This slightly felted the fibers together to form a somewhat firm shell around the core. When doing this I made sure to separate the strands periodically to ensure that they wouldn’t stick together. Be gentle!
Whether you want your core yarn to show through is also your choice. With this yarn I tried to cover it completely, but it peeks out in a couple of places. Since the core yarn matches the colors in the fiber well enough it’s not a big deal to me, so I didn’t take the time to fix it.