Spinning Tuesdays

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?


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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.

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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.


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Spinning Tuesdays: Dissecting Yarn with Amy King

Last Saturday I took a class with Amy King of Spunky Eclectic and Spin Control fame.

The class was called Reading Your Yarn and it was about learning to dissect millspun yarns and reproduce them. I have to admit this really had never occurred to me. Sometimes I pick a yarn apart to look at plys, but never anything beyond that.

We looked at prep, twist, spinning technique and ply.

We all brought a yarn or two we really like to take apart and try to make. I brought Osprey by Quince & Co., because I just bought it am in deep love. It’s a springy 3-ply with more loft than any 3-ply that I’ve ever worked with.

Osprey from Quince & Co

Untwisted I could see that it’s a 3-ply with a lot of woolen characteristics. Because it’s a millspun yarn, the finished yarn is a lot smoother than a handspun woolen. It was spun from a woolen prep, there is lots of air in each ply. It’s slightly over twisted from a balance yarn.

Osprey untwisted

Without doing exact measurements. I spun  Pear Tree merino roving woolen and plied it 3-ply.

Pear Tree merino spun woolen

I didn’t ply twisted enough to get the springy feeling throughout my skein, but I can see a few spots where I got it just right.

Needs a little more twist, but it's close

I love this yarn. It’s soft with loft, but would have much better stitch definition than any handspun woolen yarn that I’ve knit with. I’m dreaming about a slouchy cabled hat.

Of course, since this class I’ve been picking apart every commercial yarn I come across in my house.

Does everyone else already pick commercial yarns apart and try to replicate them in handspun? Am I late to yet another spinning party?

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Spinning Tuesdays: Spin in Public and Briar Rose Winner

The spinner who will be happily spinning Briar Rose Fibers silk is Deborah from Illinois.

Thanks to Briar Rose Fibers for a wonderful prize!

I took to the streets, (well a hallway really – it was chilly) with my spinning pals for World Wide Spin In Public Day. Amy came down from Toronto and met her new Sidekick. We spun at The Spinning Loft where there were treats and sales and at any given time 20+ spinners. I only took a few pictures because I was spinning.

Our hostess, telling stories and spinning thread-fine yarn.

Fleece, spinners and Amy with that second cup of coffee she shouldn't have had.

A Schacht threepeat featuring Amy and her new Sidekick. Yes, she loves it.

More spinners. Check out Erica's new to her Majacraft - a Tiny Tim, no longer made, but adorable.

We made a few new spinners answered lots of questions about spinning and ate cupcakes. What did you do for Spin in Public Day?


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Spinning Tuesdays: Say Hello to Fall with Silk

Did you know that Briar Rose Fibers now has silk fiber? She’s dyeing silk bricks.

I have loved Chris’ sense of color for a long time – deep organic shades. I frequently call it shades of dirt, but not in a bad way – it’s rich and multi-hued with color grounded in browns.

When Chris starts something new she sometimes sends me a little to play with, here’s my silk:

Greens, golds and blues on a silk brick


I dug in my stash for some Briar Rose fiber to blend it by plying with and came up with two possibilities in BFL.

Darker and lighter purple-ish colorways

Just from looking at the photo which one would you choose? I bet on the darker colorway, it has more colors that are similar, and it’s closer tonally for less marling. I spun finer than I usually do, woolen for the BFL and worsted for the silk.

Lighter colorway plied with silk

Darker colorway plied with silk

I was surprised (aren’t I always?) about a couple of things. The lighter colorway didn’t marl with the silk, they blended together really well, especially in the knitted swatch. The darker colorway didn’t pop with the silk like I expected, too many colors too close in tone. But I do like them both.

BFL-silk swatches

I can’t decide. I think I like them both equally, and I think they would look beautiful worked in something together.

What’s your vote?

To celebrate the beginning of fall (and my kids going back to school!) Briar Rose Fibers is giving away one dyed silk brick to a lucky Knitty Blog reader. The prize value is $45.00 US.

The usual rules apply: Leave a comment to this post before midnight, eastern time, on Thursday, September 8, 2011. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the reader answers correctly s/he will win a dyed silk brick from Briar Rose Fibers.



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Spinning Tuesdays: Phat Fiber Fluff Box

I got a Phat Fiber Fluff Box in the mail. Did you hear me squee?

Don’t know what Phat Fiber is? There is a detailed description here, but in a nutshell it is a box of samples, either fiber, yarn or a mix. Fiber artists contribute a certain number of small samples that they have dyed, carded and packaged as they are inspired by the theme of the month. Phat Fiber boxes go on sale once a month and there is a limited number of each box, so you have to click quickly.

The theme for August is Bollywood!

Look at the beautiful box full of fiber:

Phat Fiber Fluff Box for August

20 little fiber packages, not counting the extra goodies like buttons, henna and a cool bangle to wrap in handspun.

I knew you wanted a closer look

The fiber artists that contributed obviously had fun with the theme, it shows in fiber sample and  in the individual packaging. The detail is wonderful from special fonts and photos to silk ribbons to tiny bells.

Packaging details - look at the tiny bells

Unwrapped the fiber looks like this : 7.75 ounces of fiber to spin.

Almost 8 ounces of fiber - look at the sparkle!

The variety of fiber combinations and color is huge. So what doesn a spinner do with .5 ounce amounts of 20 different fiber blends?

This spinner corespins.

Corespinning in the sunshine

I plan to corespin all of the fiber, grabbing the fiber randomly from a big bowl. Sometimes I use all of the .5 ounce in one shot, sometimes I only use half. I am amazed at how it’s all coming together. Corespinning really showcases the fibers and makes a cool looking yarn. I am working on making my corespun yarn balance so I can use it to knit with.

Anyone have tips for balancing corespun yarn?

Let me talk about the collection of fiber artists that contributed to this particular box.

I am an unapologetic fiber wh*re – I have a big stash, I look at fiber and touch fiber every day, I talk about fiber and fiber people every day (yes, I love my job) , but most of the fiber folks in this box of fine fluff were new to me.  I love that.

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Spinning Tuesdays: Dyeing with Deb Menz

This past weekend I took a 3-day dye class with Deb Menz. I am still recovering. She completely cracked my brain open about dyeing color. I’ve perused her books   but I find it hard to learn solely from a book, especially about a topic that intimidates me.

This class was intense, 2 full dyeing days and an entire day assembling a 33 page dye book.

Here’s a quick photo essay of the class:

Deb talks about process

We had four dyeing stations and Beth let us make a mess

We dyed lots of mini skeins in quart jars

The Spin Doctor interviewed Deb for her podcast

We hung our mini skeins everywhere to dry

Many sample sheets make a book

We went home with 400 different samples to ponder

Deb explains how to use the dye book

Deb told us that she’s winding up her days as a traveling teacher. If you get the chance to take a class from her do it, it will be the most exhausting and fulfilling 3 days that you’ve ever treated yourself to.

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Spinning Tuesdays: Spinning with Jacey Boggs

This past week I took a 3 days of classes with Jacey Boggs, Corespinning, Boucle and Cable and Crepe yarns.  It was a lot of new things for me, I’ve had one other class in Boucle yarns, spun along with Jacey’s DVD, poked around on You Tube, and tried to figure highly textured yarns out from books, with not a lot of success. I was prepared to work.


What I wasn’t prepared for was how Jacey taught.

Many spinning teachers teach in a style that I call, “Want this? Do this.”  Sort of like paint by numbers, following along exactly how the teacher spins – how they hold their hands and treadle – you make the class yarns. It works, and sometimes spinners can adapt their style of spinning to make it work for them away from the class.

But for me these aren’t the classes that make a change to my spinning or truly open up a new pathway in my spinning thinking.

big boucle

Jacey teaches the thinking kind of classes. Actually, she can teach both kinds at the same time. If you are there to learn to replicate, fantastic, she’s a crack demonstrator – she’ll show you, then make sure your hands are doing it right, until you leave with yarns similar to hers.

But if you are there to learn, to have your spinning brain cracked open and shaken like a dusty rug, you are in for the best kind of class.

no loop boucle

She explains the how and the why in detail. She wants her students to make yarns that are balanced, repeatable and useable. She has spent hours and years figuring out all of this and how to best explain it. She is excited by it all and it’s infectious.

tailspun sari silk

I was ready for it. I went to class  open minded, open brained. We went through many steps, many explanations and many fibers. Some of the best were the ones that didn’t work – it looks like corespun or cabled yarn but you wouldn’t want to knit with it.

cables and crepes

While she’s teaching, demonstrating and making you think, Jacey also talks about what’s exciting her now and what she’s puzzling on. A peek into future books and classes.

Fat cables


The best analogy I can come up with is that Jacey is a living, spinning version the the David McCauley book, The Way Things Work.

Like this, but spinning

All three of her classes so fully engaged both my hands and my brain that I was wholly present for each – no worrying about what wasn’t getting done at home , no mental or actual list making for the week to come – just thinking and spinning. My yarns didn’t come out perfect, the are all over spun, but I didn’t care because I was learning so much. I was tired, but not exhausted at the end of each day and mentally excited.


Now looking at my yarns from the classes I know exactly what to do to repeat them, make them better or make them different. I feel really ready to step on the textured yarn path.


Jacey has a book/DVD combo coming out in late Fall, Spin Art: Mastering the Craft of Spinning Textured Yarn. So, if you can’t take a class with her you can still get her to explode your brain. If you follow the book link and scroll down there is an 8 page preview of the book. Just try not to swoon.

Jacey's new book



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Spinning Tuesdays: Marled Textures

I spun and knitted samples of Merino/Tencel, Silk, Merino and BFL from CJ Koho Designs all in the same colorway: Henry.

I wanted to know how the difference in the texture of a fiber or fiber blend plied with a different fiber or fiber blend changes the look of the knitting – marling with texture.

I took these:

Merino-Tencel, Silk, Merino, and BFL

spun singles:

Merino-Tencel, Silk, Merino, and BFL singles

I was most interested about how the Merino-Tencel and Silk would look with the Merino and BFL, because while the Merino-Tencel and Silk are shiny and Merino and BFL are matte, they are all shiny or matte in different ways. So I plied Merino-Tencel and Silk singles with BFL and Merino singles.

BFL and Merino plied on themselves

Merino is lofty and so matte it looks velvety. BFL has a visual density because of the bit of of luster and less loft than Merino because of staple length.

Merino-Tencel and Silk plied on themselves

Even though the Tencel is mixed with Merino it gives a bigger pop of shine, Tencel reflects the light more and the contrast with the matte of the Merino makes it look shinier. The silk greys out the the colorway and even though I spun it worsted it absorbs the light, especially when plied on itself.


First up Merino-Tencel and Silk plied with BFL

Merino-Tencel plied with BFL and Silk plied with BFL

In these two combos I can really see that BFL has luster, the Tencel and the Silk don’t seem as shiny as they do with the Merino. The swatches are both physically and visually denser, but I like the subtlety of the not so shiny shine. I’m wondering about a sock yarn with the BFL and Silk. I think I’d add some nylon to the BFL first.


Merino-Tencel and Silk plied with Merino

Merino-Tencel plied with Merino and Silk plied with Merino

I have to confess that I’ve done a bit with combining Merino-Tencel and Merino before and I love it with a deep passion – the loft, the shine, the super squeezey sponge-y love. I want to spin and knit a sweater out of this combination.  The Silk combo is not too shabby, the Silk shine really pops against the Merino.

And because I know you want to see it – Merino-Tencel and Silk plied together:

Merino-Tencel plied with Silk

This one surprised me the most. I love how both the Tencel and Silk shine but differently. I thought the Silk would get lost, but it holds it own against the Tencel. I want experiment more with this combination, it would make spectacular sexy lace.


Tour De Fleece Update:

It is with a big sigh that I must report to you that I completely sucked at  the Tour this year. 1 bobbin, that’s all I spun. I was hoping for a pound at least. Life and deadlines just got in the way. Next year the yellow jersey will be mine!

So how did you do on the Tour? What is my experiment with texture inspiring you to do?



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