Another Finished Project

Yarn on chair

Sheltland yarn, freshly plied this morning.

I was busy this morning. I plied the heather Shetland that I spun weeks ago.

There were a lot of thin spots that broke. However, it measured out as 217 yards.

Plying sounds easy. It’s really not. The idea is simple – twist two lengths of yarn together. But there are tangles and thin spots that break. And you have to manage the two lengths you are plying.

My Kickspindle base has two posts where I can put two quills of yarn. It works just fine, for small lengths of yarn. If the quills are over-full, they don’t spin right.

So for large amounts of yarn, I have two bobbins that will hang from just about anything. The problem is they hold a LOT more yarn than the kick spindle will. Oops. Guess I’ll have to get a spinning wheel for large skeins of yarn.

But not this week.

I’ve got 8 oz of brown Shetland that I’m spinning exclusively on the drop spindle. If I ply it, it will be with the hanging bobbins. The storage bobbins won’t fit on the posts.

Now I’ve got a hot date with some very soft Marino wool.


Merrily Spinning Along

Aqua yarn and the very last batt.

Aqua yarn and the very last batt.

It was just a week and a few days ago that I bought a bunch of fiber. I’m serious – I bought a pound of fiber locally and another half pound at the Fiber Festival. I’ve worked my way deep into this stash.

One of my first projects was to spin this aqua dyed-in-the-wool coopworth batting. I bought 8 oz, which was just two bags and four batts. What I’ve gotten so far is 175 yards of two-ply yarn. It was completely spun and plied on my kickspindle. My first large project.

There were a couple of thing about this fiber I found that I didn’t care for. First off, there are a lot of short bits that became bumps when I spun it. I debated removing them as I spun, but they add to the character of the yarn.

Secondly, the fiber felt very greasy. This made it more difficult to spin it evenly, so the yarn has thick and thin spots. I also used a semi-worsted draw, which exaggerates the textures.

Third, and worse IMO – the dye came off on my hands. I had to scrub to get the dye off, and my hands still felt really strange. I’m not sure if this is going to be colorfast, or if the color will gradually fade.

I didn’t do a close-up photo – but you can see the length and drape of this yarn. It has a great deal of character. It’s semi-worsted, bumpy, with some thick, puffy areas.

It’s lovely, in a very wild way.

Off to the Kentucky Fiber Festival – May 18th

I’m very excited to go to my first wool festival. I’m not sure what to expect. Lot’s of wool – lots of tools to process wool? Maybe lots of sheep and sheepdogs, too.

Lexington is just a couple hours away, so I’m going to see a few of my classmates while we’re there.

Maybe I’ll get some pictures.l

Adventures in Plying

Digital Camera
I had a very long and difficult yarn spinning lesson yesterday.

It made me very glad for all those years in Tech Support. (Yes, I’m going to degress a moment.) Because working in Tech Support, I had tremendous amounts of information thrown at me in chunks. I suspect it is the way the left brain works. I said that to say this: my instructor has tremendous knowledge of wool, spinning and all aspects of the craft. It all tumbles out in huge blocks of information that need to be absorbed quickly. That’s not easy to do.

The reason it was a long and difficult lesson is that I had to work with my first few skeins of yarn. I had to correct my own mistakes, and there were a hell of a lot of mistakes in the three skeins we plied into one, two-ply skein of yarn.

She’s the kind of instructor who gives praise, but not pointed praise. She says things on the fly. “I can see you took yor time with this.” She said as we worked over some odd spots in my yarn. “I can tell this was the first skein. The other two were so much better.”

There is no whining in Tech Support, so I didn’t let my own mistakes drive me to distraction. There were some doozies. I sat down at 2:30 pm and finally gave up my seat at the spinning wheel about 6:30 pm so she could run the wheel the last half-hour. My back was trashed by that time.

The first step in plying is to get the yarn (called a ‘single’ because it’s a single-ply) onto a spinning wheel bobbin. Since I had no bobbins at home, everything was in skeins. This isn’t a good idea.

After a couple of days in a skein, the yarn kinks. It twists back on itself and sets that way. Interestingly enough, there are a couple of ways to correct that.

(Fans of ’50 Shades of Gray’ should stop reading now. We’re going to fix the yarn by removing the kinks. Sorry.)

We used an industrial steamer. We put the yarn on a skein winder to stretch it. Then we steamed the yarn until it relaxed and the kinks came out.

At this point, I could re-spin the relaxed yarn, using a spinning wheel. What I learned is that I didn’t put enough twist in the yarn to ply it. There were a few places where it was too thick and yet was barely holding together. There were also snarls, places where the loose fiber got caught in the twist and plenty of breaks in the yarn.

I do not like spinning wheels. Or, should I say, I don’t like THAT spinning wheel. It has one peddle, which puts my back out of alignment. After 3 hours I was in agony. My instructor took over the peddling so I could get the plying finished.

I worked up a sweat, but we got it done.

Kick Spindle – Makeshift Bobbins

My inspiration for paper bobbins.

I’m a rank beginner at spinning. Just started in March and I’m not really sure what I’m doing yet.

One thing I noticed is that switching spinning projects is a hassle. I have to wind off onto something, like a niddy noddy, before I really know if that’s what I want to do or not.

So – I was surfing around and found someone who put a short length of PVC pipe on his/her kick spindle for a bobbin. They secured it with a cotter pin.

I thought it was a brilliant idea!

But I don’t want to marr the surface of my brand new kick spindle.

So…now what? How about I use something less rigid, more like…paper?

The shaft of my kick spindle is longer than an index card. I could wrap an index card around it, tape that down and it would slide off no problem.

Actually, there was a bit of a problem because the index card ‘floated’ around the shaft. But I used a wooden skewer inside the card to ‘lock’ it into place.

Now I can slid an index card bobbin into place, spin what I want for as long as I want, then remove the bobbin when I want to change projects.


Now, I need to figure out a way to make a ‘lazy kate’ bobbin rack so I can ply yarn.

Thoughts on Spinning Wheels.

I’ve sold a number of my laying hens to re-invest in spinning equipment. I’ve ordered a set of wool cards with the money I made off the hens. Now I’ve been thinking about a spinning wheel since I started this. After all – isn’t that what you do when you’re a spinner?

But, do I really NEED a spinning wheel?

I’m thinking ‘not really’ – mainly because I at such a basic skill level. Nothing I do requires something so high-speed.

Goodbye, Girls and Boys!


I’ve put six of my Comet laying hens and three of my Chinese Geese up for sale. It wasn’t an easy decision to make.

However, I need to raise money to support my spinning habit. I’ve got a set of fiber cards coming, and I’ve got my eye on a spinning wheel.

Spinning wheels are very expensive – even a Babe Production Wheel will run me over $300. So I’m saving my money. Also I’m getting out of the egg business for a few months while my itty-bitty pullets grow into their new job. Frankly, I don’t have enough energy to do everything I want to do this summer as far as farm chores go. Something has to go.

Babe Production Wheel

For now, I’m happy with my kick spindle. It does everything I need it to do, at this skill level, that’s not a whole lot. LOL

Update: The girls are sold to a good home.