PLY Registration Rocked!

As the clocks clicked over to 10:00, everything went live.

I was nervous that I was throwing a party that nobody would come to (highschool was a tough time for everyone, right?) but at 10:01 we had 2 orders! The guides worked! Those first 2 spinners went through there like the wind! Or like somebody posted on Ravelry, like silk.

By 10:11 we were 48 registrants deep and Stephenie’s 2-dayer was sold out! By 10:20 Deb’s 2-dayer was gone too! Over the next hour over 110 spinners zipped through registration and by the end of the day we topped out at 150 spinners, most with full schedules.

Here’s how it shook out:

All the 2-day classes are sold out except for Coleen Nimetz’s Silk, the temptress unraveled, which is dangerously close to being sold out too! If you want this class, hurry, Coleen is amazing! I had her as my 1st year teacher in the Master Spinning program and she knows lots of secret things about silk!

There’s a bit more space in the 1-day Friday classes. Jillian’s Cheaper by the dozen class is long gone and it’s soon to be followed by Esther’s Wild Fibers class and Amy’s Sock it to me, both of which should be awesome and lots of fun.

The other 2, Illegal yarns and Technically Twisted both promise to be great but very different. Illegal Yarns is taught by the great Patsy Sue Zawistoski and she’s got such a brain in her head that I just want to walk behind her all day and hope some leaks out onto me. It’d be gross but probably worth it. Her class should be super fun and teach you how to break all those rules you want to break but are afraid to. Technically Twisted with Michelle is going to blow your mind! Michelle is the lead teacher for the Master Spinning Program and girlfriend can spin! She’s cutting her teaching down some after this so get in this class if you can! You’ll learn a ton, I can promise you that! If you can’t get in the 1-day, any half day with her would be worth your while!

The half day classes are a mixed bag. Many sold out right away (but some have other time slots available) and lots are on the brink. The totally gone ones are Deb’s and Jillian’s but Beth’s Going Steady which I may sneak into, is almost there as are all of Abby’s spindle classes and most of Amy King’s classes. Amy Tyler’s variations on long and short draw classes are also pretty full.

Ones that should be sold out but are only half full:

Silk Tasting: all the silk! Testing, trying, learning from a silk master! Seriously, I can’t believe there is any space! Did you read her silk articles in the Silk issue? Amazing!

Twist and Twine: If you have space for one more class, take this! Chris is so fantastic, you love her articles, she’s better in person!

Maximize your minis: I’m not as good at fiber prep as I should be so don’t be surprised if I totally crash Michelle’s classes! She knows so much.

Twist for Grist: If you want to know how to adjust the size and feel of your yarn, get in here! Michelle is great with twist and grist and again, she just knows a ton about spinning.

Wild Combing: It’s Esther, come on, the queen of texture!

There are a lot of great classes gone but there are still some gems to be had. I scheduled each of these classes/teachers based on how great I knew they would be, the things that I want to learn, and the people I want to learn them from. It’s going to be amazing no matter what classes you get! If you want to come, here’s the reg page!

And to those spinners that made yesterday such a success, thank you so much! And Jessica, man alive, you were outstanding!

A Little More About Consistency

Last month I talked about consistency and gave you a couple of my favorite tips but I left out the one thing I do at the start of every project. I make a sample card.

I know that lots of people love those spinner’s control cards with the diffeerent line thicknesses to compare your yarn to.  I have a couple of those laying around but I find I am more consistent over the whole project if I make my own and it only takes a minute.


I find it easier to compare the singles this way. My eye can see it easier and I spend less time trying to figure out if IColumbiasamplesmall am remembering the correct line or if the yarn was slightly inside the line or not. Check out my card. This is the card I used for the columbia yarn I am using for the skirt I made on my floor loom and the one that is currently being woven on my rigid heddle loom. So that’s about 10,000 yards of 2 ply that I needed to spin. Obviously, consistency of yarn was pretty important. And it all was spun using this lowly card as a reference.

This particular card is done on a blank index card. I also use those large shipping tags which are easy to attach to my wheel if I have a long term project happening.

It’s pretty simple. I take the singles and wrap them around the card several times. I just tie the ends together on the back. You can tape them but tape doesn’t necessarily staty stuck forever. This is my reference during the spinning of the singles.

I punch 2 holes in the card and make a ply back sample that is 2 ply and 3 ply. These are my references for a balanced ply. I don’t always match this exactly but it is my starting point. If I want a more drapey yarn I may put less twist and if I want a sturdier yarn or a more elastic yarn I might add more twist than the balanced angle. But I always have this reference of fresh twist as my refernce.

I make both a two ply and a 3 ply sample regardless of what my plan is for the yarn because I save some of these cards for future reference so I can avoid all of the sampling that happened before the start of the project. I have a lot of these cards.

On the card I write the kind of fiber and the preparation – this card should say roving corriedale1but I neglected to write that. I write the spinning method and often I will add the rhythm I’m using like 12 inch draft to 5 treadles. Again, I didn’t write that here but let me give you a photo of a card I did the right way. This Corriedale project card has all of the information I need to reproduce this yarn. Often I attach it to the swatch or sample I made with the yarn to make sure the yarn would work. All of these samples go into a bag with that breed so I can find them later.

I hope this extra little tip has helped. It’s so easy and has made a huge difference in my spinning projects that require more than 4 ounces of yarn.




I love a smooth, consistent yarn. I do. I love how that kind of yarn feels and drapes. I love to spin them too. I love the rhythm of it.

I’ve spent almost my entire spinning career working toward getting my yarns to be more consistent and learning what helps to make that happen. The great thing about all of that focus is that learning those things has helped me to be able to have the control I need to make almost any yarn that I try.

Every spinning skill that we learn transfers to so many other techniques.

So, let me give you two tips for how to be more consistent in your spinning.

Tip number one: When you are drafting using a short forward draw, draw out only about one half of the staple length for each draft. This will improve things almost immediately if you are sturggling with consistency. Do that with every draft and your yarn will improve.

Tip number two: get your hands and feet into a rhythm. This works with both woolen and worsted spinning. For example, say you are treadling at about the tempo of a waltz. 1,2,3 and 1,2,3. Now draft in the same rhythm. Draft, slide, hold and draft, slide hold. Often inconsistencies in yarn can come from inconsistencies in twist so if you can get your hands and feet to work together the twist will be pretty consistent over the whole bobbin.

If you are interested in knowing all of my tips for consistent yarn, I have a new video that was just released yesterday that’s called Spinning to Get Even. It’s from Interweave and is available as a DVD or a download. 


Proper Chairs

Don’t ask me about what chair to sit in when you spin. Don’t ask me about posture. I got nuthin’.

I will say that when you are learning to spin it is important to sit in a chair that is a height that allows you to reach the treadles. I think one with a back is nice.

I have always been a comfortable chair spinner. I sat on the couch when I was learning but at home I have a rocking recliner that I sit in.
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Sometimes I like a little stool off to the side so I can prop one foot up. The arm on this chair is just about right at my elbow so when i’m doing long draw I can prop my elbow and just move my fore arn back and forth. It’s very comfortable.

But last weekend I went to spin at Jillian‘s house and I sat in the spot I usually spin in. I like that spot. There is a table on my right side just like at home. I can put my cup there and it’s very comfortable.  One thing I noticed this time (and maybe it’s because I’ve been spinning so much lately) is that the arm on Jillian’s couch is much higher than the arm on my chair at home.20150830_102219_002 - Copy

Seriously, it’s like armpit height. That means I had to adjust my spinning technique. Instead of holding my arm at a 90 degree angle like at home, I held it straight out. See? I still found a way to use the arm rest and make myself comfortable.

I’m not saying that certain chairs don’t work better for different wheels. My Norm Hall Castle wheel has treadles that are a bit higher off the floor than the Schachts and it is a bit more heavy feeling to treadle and so I need a chair that is a tiny bit higher. That calls for Lou’s (Mr Beth) recliner with a pillow behind my back. It works great.

All I’m saying is get comfy when you spin. Try out all the chairs and try different sitting positions. And if you are very comfortable and your one foot is propped up and you are too far away to move the thread to a new hook, get your kid to do it, or teach your dog to do it. Not sure if the cat will, though.


Thin? It’s All Relative

Moreno Big Yarn 1 sm Our latest issue of PLY is all about spinning thin yarn. When I think about thin yarn I think about that finer-than-fine yarn, that’s really thread, some spinners can spin.

I say some spinners because so far I’m not one of them.


As I read through this issue I realized that thin is relative. I usually like to spin fattish yarn, aran weight or worsted so my particular thin is a 2-ply fingering weight yarn. One person’s thin isn’t another person’s thin and it doesn’t have to be. I’m happy with that. All of the knitting I’m doing lately is for fingering to aran weight yarn, so my thin-for-me yarn is perfect.

I’m sure I could spin finer if I had a burning desire or a particular project where I want to use a finer yarn. Actually, there may be finer yarn for me in the near future because my current fingering weight yarn isn’t quite fine enough for the stitching I’m getting more and more excited about.

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How fine will I go?


It’s a Process

Last week Jillian spoke beautifully about rejection. She said it all perfectly. I agree with every feeling.

Today I thought I’d talk about my process of writing an article after the joyous news comes that my article idea has been accepted. This is the way I go about things and I happen to know that Jillian’s process is completely different than mine so ask her to tell you how she works.

OK, so when I submit an article idea for consideration I have an idea about how the yarns will look if I use a certain spinning method and I often want to talk about the technical details about how to get to the final yarn. That’s usually all I know and more often than not, I don’t have samples to back my words up.

When I write I need to have the yarn and swatches sitting right next to me so I can feel them in my hands. If I get stuck I pick up the samples and sniff them, hug them, feel them, rub them, anything that will get a littel spark going.

What that means is that all or most of my samples need to be spun before I start writing. What that also means is that I need to have a pretty good idea of what I want to show. I’m not great at writing detailed outlines. So for articles I usually just have a short paragraph that I’ve written to give me some idea of where I’m heading and then I choose fibers and spinning techniques that will get me there.

For example, the article in the Leicesters issue, I knew that I was limited to the three Leicesters and my article was about spinning for softness. Of course I wanted to choose the most coarse Leicester to demonstrate what I do so English Leicester was the choice (aka Leicester Longwool, or Dishley Leicester)

After I choose the fiber then I choose the wheel that will do what I want most easily. Often that is my Schacht Matchless. I can treadle pretty slowly and count treadles or whatever I have to do to make the yarn exactly what I want on that wheel. My other wheels have much larger drivewheels and I usually choose one of them when I want to get the work done fast and I don’t have to slow down so I can describe the process later.

This was actually the same process I used for writing my book. I had an outline which really was just a list of chapters. I wrote the breeds I wanted to use for each chapter under each heading and started spinning. Spinning for that project took about 6 months with 6 months of writing following the spinning. But having all of the samples right near me for inspiration was the greates thting I could have done for myself.

Right now I’m almost finished writing an article for the Singles Issue of Ply that’s coming up. It’s due in 5 days. I think I can make it because I have my samples.

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Studio Time

Sometimes I call my work room at home my studio. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I was in an actual recording studio with cameras and stuff!

I recorded two vidoes. One called Spin Thin all abut how to spin fine yarns and the other is Getting Even, all about spinning more consistently. It was scary and fun all at the same time.

Plus I had professional makeup with EYELASHES!



I took a lot of stuff.




There were plenty of samples.

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I was really nervous but I pushed through it.

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The camera guys were awesome. And funny.

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And then it was all over.

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The videos are being produced by Interweave and will be out in July and August of this year if all goes according to plan. Don’t worry, I’ll remind you when they are ready.


I’ve been spinning a lot lately. Sometimes there are so many deadlines for writing that the spinning kind of gets pushed to the back but other times I need samples and things for articles as well as classes and I also get sad that my personal projects are being neglected and so i spin and spin and spin for hours every day.

This amount of spinning has gotten me thinking about bobbins. 2015-01-29 12.59.52

I started a project on my Norm Hall Wheel. I have 6 bobbins for that wheel but 4 of them are full with the yarn for the personal project. I have been spinning samples on my Matchless. I have about 18 bobbins for that wheel I think but usually only about 4 of them don’t have yarn. There’s another personal project in process on the Schacht Reeves. I only have 4 bobbins for that wheel and 3 are currently full.

As you can see, no matter how many bobbins you have for a particular wheel, it never seems to be enough for me.

Bobbins can be pricey. so what’s a spinner to do? Storage bobbins!

For storage of singles that I have spun for a project but I’m not ready to ply yet I like to use a couple of different types of bobbins for storage. There are 6 inch weaving bobbins that are great for finer yarns. They look small but you will be surprised at how much yardage can fit on one bobbin. Also, I like the cardboard bobbins that weavers use for warping. They are very cheap – less than $2.00 each – and can be reused.





Now using these bobbins for storage may bring up an issue about how best to wind the yarn from the spinning wheel bobbin onto the storage bobbin. If you are a weaver, you probably already have a winding tool for weaving bobbins and this will work just great whether it is electric or hand cranked. Another option is an electric drill with a dowel put in where the bit goes. Then you put the storage bobbin onto the end. If the bobbin opening is too big, just use some wool and jam the bobbin on tightly.

I choose to use other bobbins as storage rather than winding the yarn from the bobbin by hand into a ball because it’s faster and also because I can put my storage bobbin right onto my kate for plying.

If you do choose to wind into a ball, make sure you wind from the side of the bobbin and not over the end as this can change the amount of twist in the yarn and mess up any calculations or work you have put into planning.

What do you do about bobbin storage?

In With the New

…But not out with the old.

I love lace and it’s not a secret to anyone who knows me. When I was a kid, my mom made custom wedding dresses and we lived near Philadelphia so I would travel with her to the fabric district in Philly whenever she neede to by fabric for the next wedding. I would get sucked into the room with all of the laces. From all over the world. Some hand embroidered, some beaded, some that cost hundreds of dollars per yard. I had a hard time not toouching them and I got in trouble a lot.

When I learned to knit, one of the first things I tried was lace after I had the basics down. But bobbin lace has been calling my name for years. I love the pillows and the bobbins and the very fine thread and oh how I wanted to try it. But I was a little afraid that it would be too much for me. Maybe I wasn’t smart enough.

Well, last fall Jillian – you all know her, right? – told me to just go for it. And she bugged me until I found a teacher. I was able to find someone a little less than an hour away. I got myself a pillow (not the fancy one I really want) and a few bobbins and I’ve been going for it.

This is the last project I worked on.






It’s not perfect butI can’t believe I can do it!

I have big plans for spinning for bobbin lace next. A fine, smooth, tightly plied thread. And because I am me, I will try it with a soft Romney and Blue Faced Leicester and maybe Polwarth and see how the laces differ from each other.

I’ll let you know how it goes.