Spinning for Something Big

So I’m in the midst of this big project that I brought on myself. I2015-08-02 18.19.05 probably have at least another year of spinning and weaving before I finish the original plan and since I began I’ve thought of new questions and experiments I want to look into.

The thing is there are many smaller projects inside the big project but the smaller projects aren”t even that small. You’ve probably heard that I’m spinning for weaving. I’m weaving yardage for skirts. The original plan has 7 skirts.

There are 4 blog posts about this project on my website starting here http://bethsmithspinning.com/the-great-skirt-project/

The Schacht Blog followed Jillian and I throough a weaving project. http://schachtspindle.com/smith-and-moreno-take-on-weaving/ There are 8 total posts there.

Now here’s the thing; each skirt needs a minimum of 5000 yards of 2 ply yarn. That’s 10,000 yards of singles. For the yarns I’m spinning for this skirts each bobbin takes 9 to 10 hours to fill. And I’d actually like to spin the next one a bit finer.

Please don’t misunderstand. I make my share of hats and scarves and cowls. They take a little less planning. But I’ve always like to go big. Big bags, big baskets and big projects.

See the card on top of the wool and bobbins and yarn? That’s my control card. It has singles wrapped around it and a 2 ply and 3 ply sample attached. See how it’s all bent up? By the time of this photo I had spun about 3000 yards of 2 ply plus those 3 bobbins of singles. So the card had been through a lot of handling. That’s how I make the same yarn over a long time.

2015-11-30 07.52.27But that’s not really what I’m here to talk about. Many, many people have asked me how I can spin that much yarn that is the same. Same size, same color, same everything. There’s no real secret. But I’ll tell yoou what I know now that I’ve finished three skirts and I’m spinning for the 4th.

After the first bobbin, the yarn begins to be something I can spin without a lot of thought. I’m not switching back and forth between projects too much so it’s not difficult to get back in the groove from one day to the next. I try to spin every day for at least an hour and usually 2 to 3 hours when I can. Practice makes perfect.

Also, I watch a lot of TV. I DVR plenty of things and there are also several series on Netflix that I watch. Since the yarn gets to be something I don’t have to think about I can watch the TV and spin at the same time. Lou is often amazed at that.

I’m very goal oriented. I like to set goals, and set a date for accomplishing that goal. Sometimes I am a bit late – ask Jacey! But usually I get there.

And finally, I like to spin. Come on, you can’t fool me. You have a favorite yarn size that you spin the most. So here’s what i would recommend if you have the desire to spin for a larger project such as a sweater…or crocheted pants. Begin with your favorite yarn. Once you finish the project, I promise you’ll want to do it all over again.

Want help planning your project? Let me know. Need moral support? I’m a great cheerleader!



6 replies
  1. Robyn Tanchum
    Robyn Tanchum says:

    Ha! ” Begin with your favorite yarn”! That’s where I get hung up! Right at the beginning! My favorite yarn is alpaca: it’s soft and smooth and non- scratchy. But because it has no memory, it begins to bag after a while in the elbows and sure would do the same in the seat area of a skirt. I use it for shawls and it is absolutely beautiful. Next favorite is cormo: soft and non-scritchy too but due to its extreme fineness and shortish staple, it pills like the devil. Merino has its scratch and pilling issues too. What to do, what to do? Polwarth and silk mix, CVM and silk mix? HELP!!!

    • Beth Smith
      Beth Smith says:

      I meant the begin with yarn thickness you love to spin the most. For less pilling add more ply twist. Also, handspun yarns almost always wear better than mill spun so the same issues may not be as pronounced.
      Like I love a 3 ply fingering weight so that’s where I usually start. I have at least 3 sweaters made from that yarn weight.

  2. Sayra Adams
    Sayra Adams says:

    I only have a Cricket loom. Which is still in the box…shameful! My 9yr old daughter is the weaver. She still has fin with her peg loom. If I made a woven skirt it would be post apocalyptic, with flaws. Probably in army green or charcoal! Finer yarn, with exposed hardware and grommets. So I could wear it with my combat boots and puffer vest.

  3. Leigh
    Leigh says:

    I’ve got a loom still in it’s box too. I’m partway through spinning some really neat Jacob batts. Barely carded and very streaky black white. I’ve three plied it and gotten probably an aran weight. I need to do a quick knitting sample, but I’m wondering if it might work better to weave it. I want a slightly fulled, zip front vest with leather bound edges. Knitted, it might be too think and stiff. Woven might be just the ticket. Guess I better get the loom out and do a practice piece – since I’ve only ever woven potholders on a peg loom. 🙂


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