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Spinning Wheel Troubleshooting: How to Fix Common Problems

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!

Spinning Wheel Troubleshooting

Photo via Laura Chau

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?

looped-1Photo via Laura Chau

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!

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.

spinning yarn

Photo via Pixabay

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?

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.

You might also enjoy our post on spinning wheel maintenance.

spinning on a louetPhoto via Flickr user Eunice under Creative Commons license

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.

full bobbin of yarnPhoto via Hedgehog Fibers under Creative Commons license

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.

For “why is my yarn so kinky?!” and other pressing spinning questions, stay tuned for my next troubleshooting post. And if you have a spinning question or conundrum, comment on this post and we’ll try to cover it in the future!

Take an online spinning class!

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hilary holton

I wonder if you can help – the string going around the main wheel keeps coming off – very frustrating. I was wondering if it was my treadling technique? thank you if you can help. Hilary


I have this problem sometimes, you could try tightening the string.

Kathleen Hogg

Hi I have just purchased an Ashford Traveller its a Single Treadle with double cord (is this Scotch tension) I need to learn about using and setting up but all information seems to be about double treadle please can you help.Regards Kathleen Hogg

LynnAnn Thomas

Is there no one answering these questions? I have this wheel as well. There’s very little help anywhere for our model. My issue is that the bobbin reverses when I stop treadling. Which adjustment is wrong? I hope someone can direct us to help. Thanks for posting Kathleen.

Veronique Sterckendries

I’m struggling with my carding machine. The little wheel? (How do you call this ) get’s stuffed with yarn also and my carded batts seem not so smooth and uniform as the ones I buy online. The brand of the machine is Louet. Could you help me with this please?


Hello Veronique,

it’s probably because you overload the carder- try and card small quantities (enough to fit into your palm). Keep the fiber down on the feeder (careful with your fingers!) and turn the handle slowly. Once you have the wool wound on the large drum, take a flicking comb (I use my cleaning comb) and while turning handle, put your comb on top of the wool batt in the direction of combing and press slightly- you will see all the dirt/VM coming out of your fiber. Keep doing this until yo have a lovely, uniform surface. Take the wool of the drum, sing the cleaning comb . If you still have issues with your carder, then perhaps you may need to change the ratio (turning of the large drum: turning of the small drum)- yo will have to contact a supplier or the Louet company.


Trying to ply almost done and the yarn won’t twist no matter what I try. I have a ashford joy. And am not a accomplished spinner. However I have plyed before without any trouble. As I think back I do remember thinking some of my yarn in the past has had a very loose ply. Not knowing much I didn’t give it much thought. I put it away and just started spinning a free several years. I have been told you can’t get the bobbin too full. Is that true for the joy Thank you for your time. Jill


I have spun my wool to thin and have plied it. I have ended up with 4 ply. Can I add by repling another 4 ply bobbin.


I just started using a wheel and the problem I’m having is I’ll be doing fine and it’ll be winding good and then randomly will stop winding and I have to do it manually. I use an ’37 Saxon style and I find I have to keep my tension really tight almost the tightest. I’m not treadling very quickly, just getting very frustrated.


When I spin, sometimes the flyer/bobbin stops spinning even though the wheel is moving. What causes this? Thanks!


You know what’s annoying?

“For “why is my yarn so kinky?!” and other pressing spinning questions, stay tuned for my next troubleshooting post. ”

And, yeah, no future post to be found. Extremely irritating because I am having this problem.


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