Before you do anything, you need to set the wheel up and get it ready for spinning. Place an empty bobbin in the flyer and treadle a few times to check to see if the tension or drive band is too tight. It should treadle very easily. Loosen the drive band until it is just tight enough to work effectively. While you do this check to make sure you are using the largest whorl available. This will make it easier to spin until you get the hang of it. Once this is done, loosen the tension knob as well. Is the wheel treadling very easily and smoothly? Tighten the tension until you feel a bit of resistance. If you have an instruction booklet it should explain how to make these adjustments.
Once it is treadling smoothly, practice treadling the wheel, and concentrate on making the wheel go clockwise. Practice starting and stopping the wheel, as boring as this is, practice it until you feel comfortable and understand how to treadle CLOCKWISE, without accidentally treadling the other way.
The first thing that must be done is to tie a leader onto your bobbin. Make sure that it is at least 24” long and tie it very snugly. Once you have a leader attached to the bobbin, you can thread this through the orifice. You should have gotten a small hook with your wheel to do this. If for some reason you don't have one, you can easily make one from a piece of wire. Simply use a pair of pliers and bend the end of the wire into a small hook shape, but be sure it is small enough to fit inside the orifice, but not too small to catch a yarn. It only needs to be long enough to reach from the opening of the orifice to the hole located at the bottom of the U shape made by the flyer.
You put the end of the hook into the orifice opening and then you can catch the yarn and pull it through to the outside of the orifice for spinning. There should be a small hole for the yarn to travel through from the flyer to the inside of the orifice.
My hook is inside the orifice and it is hooked over the purple yarn and ready to be pulled through.
Notice that the drive band is on the largest whorl, this will help tremendously.
Once you have hooked the yarn, simply pull it through the orifice to the outside.
Once you have hooked the yarn, simply pull it through the orifice to the outside. Pull the whole length through and hold it in one hand a few feet away from the orifice. Give the wheel a little spin with your hand, and as soon as it begins to spin, move your hand with the leader towards the orifice. The yarn should have went inside and wound onto the bobbin. If it didn't you may need to tighten the tension, give it a small turn and try again. Remember that if the yarn gets too twisted it will not wind on, so if you start getting too much twist, let the yarn dangle and unwind a bit. You are looking for it to wind on well, but not grab the yarn and yank it out of your hands. Once some yarn is wound on you can pull on it and it should unwind easily but have some tension, and not just unwind with no resistance. Once it feels like everything is working well, you are ready for roving. Predraft your roving by splitting it lengthwise into strips about the size of your little finger.
Break off a piece about 5 to 10 feet long and pile this in your lap. Split the ends of your leader a bit and place the tip of your roving in the V that forms.
Pinch this join in one hand and hold the roving in the other, it doesn't really matter which does which, do whatever feels most comfortable to you. Give the wheel a little spin with your roving hand, not much, just one turn of the fly wheel will suffice.
The spinning of the fly wheel will spin the fibers into a yarn, it's almost like magic, and it is facinating to watch.
You can see where the fibers have spun together, creating a joined place. As you practice you will be able to join new roving on and the place will be unidentifiable from the rest of the yarn. For now just try and get it joined on sturdily. Test your join by giving a small tug on either side of the join to test the strength. If it holds, then you can place the fly wheel in the position where the treadle is at the highest height (single treadle). This way you can start it by pressing down, and it will go clockwise. If you have a double treadle you can do the same thing, just use one of the treadles and one foot.
Now it gets kind of tricky but never fear, after some practice you will get better, it isn't hard, but it is a process of rhythm and you can't achieve it until you practice and get the hang of it. I have tried to describe the steps to take, but the success of your spinning depends on you learning the proper rhythm that works for you.
You are going to hold the roving in one hand and pinch the fiber with the other hand. This pinching hand keeps the twist out of the drafting triangle or zone. This is the area between my hands. See how the fibers are smooth and not twisted? Pinch just hard enough to keep the twist from traveling back into the drafting triangle. With the other hand hold the roving smooth and taut. While you treadle as slowly as possible slide your pinching fingers back towards your holding hand. Once this is done move your hands towards the orifice and the yarn will take up onto the bobbin.
These two photos show the different steps.
Here you see my pinching fingers holding the twist out of the drafting zone. My drafting hand holds the fibers taut so my other hand can glide back along the fibers as the wheel creates twist.
Now you can see that my spinning hand has come back to my drafting hand. The next step will be to move my hands forward to allow the yarn to wind onto the bobbin.
If your yarn is knotty and overtwisted, treadle slower, and double check that you are using the largest whorl. If it gets so knotty that the wheel won't take up the yarn, wind it on by hand and try again.
That's about all there is to it, but I have a few other reminders for you. Be sure and change hooks regularly so that your yarn doesn't get all snarled on the bobbin. Strangely I also like it to look as neat and tidy as possible on the bobbin, because I enjoy looking at it. Keep trying and soon you will be spinning the yarn you dream of for all your knitting projects. Keep on trying and please let us know if you have a particular problem or question, we will answer it if we can.