Spinning Tuesdays

Spinning Tuesdays: Sometimes Simple is Best

I’m going for simple gifts this year.

So far this one is my favorite

Chunky woolen Polwarth, 2x2 rib on US #11 - cozy and fast.

Chunky 2-ply Polwarth, spun woolen. The colorway is Hopworks from Abstract Fibers. The color was inspired by a line up of different beers at a local pub and this hat is going to a friend that’s a brewer.

I love connections like that.


Spinning Tuesdays: I Bought a Fleece and Something I’m Excited About

It started in August.

During Deb Menz’s class at The Spinning Loft I noticed a fleece. A Babydoll Southdown, short, fine and sproingy bouncy. Unwashed it was the color of spilled pepper. When I washed a lock or two it turned to a gorgeous taupey brown.

I decided against buying it because, well, I have other fleeces just sitting and waiting for me.

But this fleece has been on my mind for months! During the Dream Wheel Weekend I couldn’t stand it anymore. I bought the whole thing, almost four pounds.

I washed and carded some right away.

Washed Babydoll Southdown

I even remembered from my spinning along with Deb Robson’s Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, not to over wash the fleece.


I carded it on my Patrick Green Deb’s Delicate Deluxe drumcarder. I ran it through four times.

All ready to spin

I’m not sure what I want to make with it. I have an idea about a cabled shawl. Woolen spun of course.

What do I want to be?

I’m going to start spinning and swatching soon.


Now you can listen to me go on about spinning

I will be a little bit busier in the future and I am so excited about it!  I am joining Sasha at the SpinDoctor podcast. Starting in December, I’ll be talking with her about what we’re both spinning and I’ll be doing an interview or two. More time to obsess over spinning.

Come over and give us a listen!

Spinning Tuesdays: Dream Wheel Weekend

Julia Farwell-Clay of Takoma fame came to The Spinning Loft with Kelly (who makes those spinning wheel cup holders that are on every wheel you see) for a Dream Wheel Weekend.

On Friday night Julia gave a talk with slide show that expanded on her wheel maker article in the most recent Spin Off.

It was called “I’m Not Dead Yet” or Custom Wheel Makers Alive and Well in North America. It was fun and informative and just primed the pump for what happened on Saturday.

We got to spin on a whole bunch of wheels by custom wheel makers. Yes, we did. I have the proof in pictures.

Alden Amos wheel - thank you for the loan Marcy!

Reeves Norwegian

Pat Russo wheel

Jenson Production Wheel

Jensen Gossip Wheel - Kelly spinning 2 singles at once

Watson Norwegian

Sasha spinning on the Watson

Carson Cooper Sierra

Julia helping Erica adjust the Cooper

Magnus Drudik 28" Castle Wheel - I tried to keep it, but Kelly said no

It was an amazing experience! I fell deeply in love with the Drudik wheel, the Cooper and the Watson. Thanks to Julia and Kelly for sharing their treasured wheels with us.


Spinning Tuesdays: Another Thing I Love About Fiber People

We love to trade.

I used to be a weaver. I have an eight harness Might Wolf that I haven’t used for years. It’s been hanging out at friend’s house just visiting.

Then another friend got bitten by the weaving bug, big time. “What would you want for your loom?” she asks. Offering just cash is boring, we decided a combo was in order.

You know how a spinning wheel can get stuck in you heart? I don’t need another wheel, but wow, this wheel waves to me, blows me kisses every time I see one.

So I tell her, “I’ve always wanted a Lendrum double treadle”.  Cat out of bag, the words and wish set loose into the universe.

Last week she shows up at my door with a big box.

My new Lendrum

She found me a Lendrum. I don’t think the old owner used her more than once or twice. It came with the jumbo plying head , the fast flyer, a carrying bag and 9 (!) bobbins.

My friend will get her loom in early December.

And my new wheel? She spins just fine.

Abstract Fiberarts, polwarth, Hopworks colorway

I love a good trade.


Spinning Tuesday: 2 Ply or 3 Ply for Cables?

I’m spinning and knitting and fair amount of my holiday gifts, all accessories because I’m not completely crazy.

Right now I’m working on a scarf for my father-in-law. It will have a cable running up the center of the scarf. The same cable that will be on my mother-in-law’s mittens. They will notice and they will get misty over it. I know! Just the type of folks you want to spin and knit for.

For the scarf I’m using some New Zealand gotland. It’s commercially prepped roving. I want the cable to be smooth so I spun it worsted (don’t faint). I want the cables to pop so I spun it 3-ply.

I’ve always heard and read that a 3 ply makes a nicer, more defined cable. I had some singles left after plying my 3 ply (because my bobbins never match up), so I plied the leftovers 2 ply, and knit cables with 2 ply and 3 ply yarns.

Here are the pictorial results of the, Cables: 2 ply or 3 ply ?, smackdown

The yarn:

Gotland 2ply front, 3 ply back

I was really struck by how much hairier the 2 ply is than the 3 ply. They were spun exactly the same. The 3 ply seems to trap and tame the fuzziness of the gotland.

The swatches:

I used a six stitch cable crossed every 8 rows for both swatches. I used a needle one size bigger for the 3 ply swatch.

2 ply swatch

A nice cable, fuzzy but clearly a cable that pops even with the halo.

3 ply swatch

What a difference! Even taking into account that the yarn is bigger by one ply, that is a meaty cable. The rounder yarn makes that bad boy stand up and wave.

2 ply swatch left, 3 ply swatch right

Here they are side by side. I would use the 2 ply cable for a softer look, like on a slouchy beret or a soft looking sweater, but the 3 ply is the look I want for my scarf.

2 ply and 3 ply from the side

Here they are shot from the side, the 3 ply is definitely a crisper cable.

I love experimenting and swatching. It always makes me excited all over again about spinning.

Do you have any cables in your upcoming projects?




Learning to Spin

Misty Mountain Farm BFL in color Pumpkin spice.

Amy and Jillian – and many of my friends around the knitting world – are avid spinners, and it seemed inevitable that I would eventually want to give it a try.

I knew that Rhinebeck is a big spinning event, so I decided that my objective for the trip would be to learn to spindle spin.

I did some research into what to look for in a spindle and some fiber, and set myself the most excellent task of shopping.

The lovely TsockTsarina got me hooked up with a plain and simple GnomeSpun spindle, and I bought myself some gorgoeous Blue Faced Leicester roving – since the experts told me that it was easy for beginners.  I chose a color inspired by the wonderful fall foliage I was seeing around.

On the Saturday evening, I sat down with some spinning friends from the shop Shall We Knit. The fabulous Lise opened up her bag of tricks, and pulled out some green Shetland (also very beginner-friendly), and got me started.

In action, with excellent coaching from Lise.

And after a few false starts, some fumbling around, and much laughter, I was starting to get the hang of it. I was making something that looked like something you could knit with.

After an hour watching me play with the top whorl spindle, Lise quietly offered up a second spindle to try: a Jenkins Turkish Delight. I had no idea: this is the spinning equivalent of offering a learner driver the keys to a Cadillac. I was immediately hooked. Being a clever sort, Lise had bought it for me, expecting I might enjoy using it.

We worked together for a couple of evenings, me spindling, Lise providing coaching and supportive laughter, and by the end of the weekend, I had made my first yarn!

I had about 6 yards of a maybe worsted weight, slightly slubby, hand-dyed green Shetland.

I made yarn! I am a spinner!

Naturally, I wanted to knit something with it. Something I could keep and show off… spinner extraordinaire Denny suggested a leaf. It’s a perfect leafy color, and I knitted it at a leafy time of year… and so…

Very proud!

my first project with my first handspun! A leaf, with a pin on the back to make it a brooch. I will be wearing it with pride on my coat this winter.

I’m saving the BFL roving until I am feeling a bit more confident. I’m going to visit my friends at Shall We Knit this weekend, and my spindles are definitely going with me.

Spinning Tuesdays: Corespinning with a Spindle?

In a recent class I took  someone talked about Sarah Anderson’s method of corespinning that she calls Wrap and Roll.

The basic idea is to wrap your core on a spindle, suspend it between your knees as you spin and let the extra twist put into your core yarn untwist via the spindle. It was mentioned in passing, but the idea kept knocking on my brain, so I went and looked it up on You Tube.

Sure enough, I found a video, not by Sarah herself but by someone who had taken her class.

I sat down and tried it. I knew it would be fiddly to get started, so I sat out in the sun and tried to just go with it.

I used 2-ply laceweight as my core and wound it on a favorite Indigo Hound spindle.

Indigo Hound spindle wrapped with core yarn

After a few false starts, I got it working. The spindle unspun the extra twist I put into the core.

Spindle hanging between my knees as I spin

I didn’t spin with my knees quite so far apart, I did that for the picture. And no, sadly, it’s not that sunny today.

I made a mistake in choosing my spindle for this project. My spindle has a relatively long shaft and the Sidekick has a lowish orifice. I should have used the lightest, shortest shaft spindle I had because I spent more time than I wanted unwinding and rehooking the core.

But the method works

A little over twisted

The yarn was a little over twisted, somewhere in between the regular core and the unspun core. I think that extra twist was me not being a very relaxed spinner with this method.

I love the idea and now really want to take a class with Sarah Anderson. I can’t imagine what I could learn from the brain that came up with this!


Spinning Tuesdays: The Core of Corespun

On my path to Corespinning Enlightenment – a balanced corespun yarn that I can knit with, I am exploring all of the ways that I’ve been taught in classes , heard about or run across in life or on the internet.

To compare the core and spinning styles of corespinning, I’ll be spinning the different styles of corespinning on my Sidekick using the largest whorl that came with the wheel. I’ll be using the same fiber in each example too, BFL top from Three Waters Farm.

Three Waters Farm BFL, Sangria and City Nights

First up corespinning on a fine 2-ply, two different ways.

Here’s what I used for a core:

Jaggerspun Maine Line

Because spinners are a curious bunch, I’ll show you how I hold my hands when I corespin.

I put the fiber supply on my left side and the core on my right side.

I let the core run over the palm of my hand

When I spin I rest the core and fiber on my index finger

When I need to draft, I drop my right thumb and hold the core and spun fiber briefly, while I draft with my left hand

I know there are spinners who don’t like to fluff, pre draft or attenuate their fibers. I love to fluff fibers, for me it leads to a more even yarn.

For corespinning I strip my top into thirds and fluff it open. I even attentuated just a little.

Stripped and fluffed

I spun 2 samples of yarn this week. Remember, my goal is to get as balanced of a corespun to knit with that I can get. One sample I spun with the core right off of the cone, which further twists an already plied (twisted) core. One sample I unplied the core by running it through my wheel in the opposite direction it was plied. Even fresh off of the wheel – the difference was dramatic.

My biggest challenge is to treadle slowly enough to not overtwist the core, but have enough twist in the core to grab the fiber. I get in to the zone of working my hands and find that soon my feet are going at a regular spinning rhythm instead of a slower corespinning rhythm.

On the left - regular spun core, on the right - unplied core

I don’t set my corespun under tension. I want to knit with it, and I find a squiggly, pig tailed yarn made to be straight by setting it with tension or weight – springs right back to it’s curly ways with the slightest re-wetting. Just like my hair in humidity.

I soak my yarn in hot water for a few minutes, snap it on my hands a couple of times then hang it outside.

The regular core yarn on the left would skew mightily when knit. The unplied core yarn on the right would play well with knitting.

Have you tried corespinning yet? What tips do you have? What do you use the yarn for?


Spinning Tuesdays: Phat Fiber Corespun

Remember this pile of fiber from my Phat Fiber Bollywood box?

Almost 8 ounces of Bollywood inspired fiber

It’s become about 220 yards of corespun yarn

220 yards of corespun with swatch

Closer on the yarn:

Wrappy goodness

the swatch:

I want to wrap around you


I am well and truly hooked on the corespun. The knitting was unexpected like a lot of knitting with handspun. I used needles at least a size or two bigger than I would with commercially spun yarn of the same size. I think handspun yarn takes deeper breaths and fills up more space. The yarn I’ve made is going to become a scarf with a bit of shaping, maybe crescent, so it hangs on a little.

Over the next few weeks here on the blog, I’m going to go back through all of the ways I learned to corespun this year, so you can find your favorite way to wrap up your yarn.

Spinning Tuesdays: Double Marl

For someone who doesn’t care for the look of marled yarns, I spend a lot of time playing with them. I think I like the idea that it’s an easy way to blend color.

During my class with Amy King she showed us what I like to call a double marl. It’s fun, it’s easy and the results are gorgeous.

I chose 2 variegated BFL/silk Abstract Fibers tops. One that I liked and one, not so much.

Abstract Fibers BFL/Silk

I stripped the fiber into pinky width strips

Pinky-sized strips

I held the two strips together as a spun my singles, creating a marled single. Then plied the singles together in a 2-ply. The effect is densely mixed up colors. My favorite kind of marl so far.

A little bit of gorgeous

Look at the difference between a regular marl and double marl.

Double marl on the left, regular marl on the right

I like this way of marling so much I spun 8 ounces. I think next time I’ll choose colorways that have fewer colors in common, just to see what happens.