Spin Together is coming in October

Spin Together is a week-long spinning competition taking place online and everywhere the week of October 2, 2021. A small group of indie dyers and fiber artists got together in 2019 to create a joy-filled spinning competition with a focus on creative spinning as well as yardage. The goal was to bring spinners from all around the world together for a team-based week of fun and camaraderie and an opportunity to spend a little more time spinning.

Now in its third year, Spin Together has yardage contests for spinners using spindles, spinning wheels, and e-spinners. There are also creative contests for Most Beautiful Skein and Wildest Art Yarn. Most of the teams are led by local yarn stores, guilds, and online yarn and fiber shops. New teams are being formed through August 30th, and then individual spinners can join teams throughout September. You can learn more and sign up on the website at www.spintogether.org.

There’s also a warm and friendly Facebook group at www.facebook.com/spintogether that is active all year long with new and experienced spinners helping each other out and sharing what they make.

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Handspinning Touchscreen Gloves

words and photos by Christie Schulze

Alberta winters can be brutally cold, which makes having a good pair of mittens or gloves an absolute necessity. After trying several pairs of gloves claiming to be compatible with touchscreens that either did not work as advertised or were nowhere near warm enough (seriously, how am I supposed to scroll through Insta while waiting for the bus without losing a thumb to frostbite?), I decided that if I wanted touchscreen gloves, I would have to make my own.

I researched my fiber options. I found some conductive thread and purchased it with the intention of holding it double with my yarn when knitting the end of the fingers, but when it arrived it was much thicker than I realized – nearly the same size as my fingering weight yarn – and a light beige colour that was going to contrast significantly against my darker yarn. Thankfully, one of the great advantages to being a handspinner is being able to make exactly the yarn you need.

I took a closer look at the conductive thread to see how it was made. It appeared to be a metallic strand plied with cotton. I had stumbled across a listing for spinnable stainless steel fibre on Etsy some years back and bought it as a novelty. Knowing it was conductive, I started my experiments there.

A previous bad experience told me that I didn’t want to just spin the stainless steel by itself and ply it with my wool. I had previously worked with a commercial yarn made of two plies of wool and one of stainless steel. The yarn was lovely and looked amazing, but as I worked with it, the strand of stainless steel seemed like it was cutting through the wool. I had to splice that yarn with great frequency – and what was meant to be a gift for my mother-in-law to wear to my wedding ended up being finished closer to our third anniversary. I decided to try blending the stainless steel into wool.

As so often happens with my fibre arts experiments, I experimented on my partner first by making him a pair of gloves. In my defense, he had asked for a pair of gloves in orange and grey, which seemed perfect colour-wise for blending in some stainless steel. Plus, the fibre I had set aside for my own gloves was a limited edition colourway from a dyer no longer dyeing – I wasn’t about to experiment with that!

I blended the stainless steel into the grey shade of wool for the gloves. I had no idea what ratio I should start with for my blend, so I decided on an 80/20 wool/stainless steel blend, thinking anything higher than that for the stainless steel might noticeably impact the warmth. I weighed my fibres and blended the stainless steel with the wool using hand cards. I rolled my fibre so as to keep the fibres as parallel as possible to maintain consistency with the rest of the commercially prepared top. My first experiment was a success: I had a yarn that could be used with a touchscreen!

I blended enough to use for the forefinger and thumb of each glove. Next came the true experiment. I knew the grey stainless steel blend would work with a touchscreen on its own, but I wasn’t sure if it would work when combined with the orange in the colourwork pattern. I made a small swatch and … success again! When knit together in the pattern, the yarn maintained its touchscreen properties, and my partner was able to swipe through his phone in comfortable warmth.

It’s been about a year since I made those gloves, and they have held up to the Alberta winters. I also made a hat to match! As for my own gloves, they’re still in the queue. I’ll get to them right after I finish this shawl…

Fibre used:

Grey – 50/50 Merino/Corriedale commercial top from Hilltop Cloud in the Storm colourway, blended with 20% stainless steel fibre (purchased from Divinity Fibers)

Orange – 100% Corriedale commercial top from Ashford (purchased from Stash Lounge) in Orange, Pumpkin Pie, and Nutmeg colourways, blended on a hackle.

Pattern: Deep in the Forest Mittens by Tuulia Salmela, adapted to gloves by me.

Christie Schulze is a handspinner living in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. She holds a Master Handspinner Certificate from Olds College. Wool is her fibre of choice, but she’s always open to a good experiment. She can be found around the internet as madebyxie and documents her fibre adventures at madebyxie.ca.

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Send us your announcements!

Do you have or know about a new product, event, fiber, or tool you think the spinning community should know about? Tell us all about it here and we’ll share it on the blog or in the newsletter.

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PLY Magazine believes that Black lives matter, as well as LBGTQI+ lives. Those most vulnerable and persecuted in our communities deserve our love and support. Please be good to each other.

Hacking Yarn Tools: How to Twist Skeins with a Power Drill

words and photos by Carrie Sundra

Twisting skeins – it’s a deceptively tricky process which generally takes some practice to produce consistently tight and tidy results. Even so, I definitely encourage everyone who handles yarn to put the time into learning how to do this by hand. When you get it down, it can be a very quick and easy way to package your yarn into a non-tangling, easy-to-store, and easy-to-ship bundle.

That said, there are many reasons as to why a person may seek mechanical help with this task. One of the most common pieces of feedback I hear after a yarn dyer uses our production tool, the SkeinTwister, is that it has enabled them to perform this task without pain. Many people have injuries, arthritis, or other medical conditions that affect their shoulder, elbow, wrist, or finger joints, and the process of manually twisting skeins can by physically painful. Eliminating the majority of the twisting motions can reduce, if not entirely eliminate, that.

Hand-twisting skeins can also be a special kind of terrible when the weather is humid. The yarn should slide easily around your fingers (or thumbs if you’re a thumb-twister!), but in humid weather, it can stick to your skin and bind. Not only can you get blisters if you’re twisting a lot of skeins, but because of the binding and uneven tension, your twisted skeins won’t come out as nice and tidy-looking.

So I’m sharing with you a DIY method for twisting the occasional skein with some mechanical help – a power drill! You can also find these instructions on our Hackaday.io page and we’ve made a short video showing you the whole process:

Step 1: Hook the drill

You’ll need a power drill with a typical 3-jaw clamping chuck and a hook. I did a survey of the hooks available at our local hardware store, and even though it’s a little smaller than ideal, I liked the metal one best, even better if you can find one with a pointed tip. I do NOT recommend a bicycle hook – the plastic coating on these isn’t slick enough and the yarn is more difficult to remove.

Clamp the hook tightly in your power drill, threads and all.

Note: It’s possible to use an electric screwdriver instead, but only if it has clamping jaws. Most have magnetic hex chucks, which won’t hold a threaded hook.

Step 2: Rig something solid to pull against

The drill and hook is going to be in your hand, on one end of the skein. The other end will need to be firmly fixed to a table, rod, or shelf, enough that you can pull with 10–15 pounds of force against it. I settled on two different ways of doing this.

Method 1: Clamp a post/peg to a sturdy table. I used both a wide paper towel holder (without a bulb at the top) and a PVC niddy-noddy (“release” arm pointed up). It’s important that your post or peg be at least 1 inch in diameter because you want the skein to be held a bit open at this end, even after it’s twisted.

Method 2: S-hook to a very sturdy shelf or rod. This way isn’t bad either. I used the largest S-hook I could find at the hardware store and also tried a large plastic hanger S-hook. This method tends to be a little fussier because the skein isn’t held as open at this end, and the ball at the end of the plastic S-hook dragged against the yarn a little when un-hooking it. I prefer Method 1 but wanted to give you the option to use other items you might already have around the house.

I do NOT recommend having a friend hold the other end of the skein – with a power drill, it’s easy to overshoot and end up painfully squeezing their fingers. You have been warned!

Step 3: Hook the yarn

First, snap the skein between your hands a bit. This will even out some of the strands and help with consistent tension. Then hook one end of the skein around either your peg or S-hook. Hook the other end of the skein around the hook in the power drill. Take a few steps backwards so there’s a slight bit of tension on the skein.

Step 4: Twist!

First, make sure that your power drill is on the slowest speed setting. Then gently pull the trigger just for a second or two. Power drills can spin very fast, so go easy at first and don’t overdo it! As the twist builds up, you’ll have to pull against the skein more and more to keep tension on it. If you don’t, the skein will twist up on itself like a phone cord. Once this has happened, it’s almost impossible to undo, so just pull the skein off the hook, let it untwist, and start over. The right amount of twist is reasonably tight but not hard as a rock. You’ll have to practice this to get the feel for how much twist you like, and it’ll vary with fiber content and skein size.

Step 5: Fold the skein

You now have a skein that’s twisted just right, still attached to the power drill. Keeping tension on the skein, pinch it at the power drill using your free hand. Slide the hook out of the skein, and set the drill down (or hook it on your belt loop for a sweet yarnslinger look!). Still keeping tension on the skein, take your newly free hand and pinch the skein an inch or two over the middle, closer to the peg or S-hook end. Also keeping tension with that middle-holding hand, fold the skein in half. The end that’s in your other hand should be an inch or two past the peg or S-hook. Release the hand in the middle. If you’ve done a good job keeping good tension on the skein the entire time, it should perfectly twist back up on itself. You may find that releasing the tension slowly and twisting a smidge helps guide the twist and produces a more consistent result.

Step 6: Tuck tail

Everyone does this last step a little differently, and it depends on your setup, whether you’re using a peg or a hook at this end, and what feels comfortable. I like removing the skein from the peg or hook in a way that allows me to keep that end an open loop with both hands, and I push the tail through the loop with both thumbs. Others like to hold the loop open with the thumb and forefinger of one hand, grab the tail from the other hand, and pull it through. There is no right or wrong way of doing this. This step also requires motions that are totally different from hand-twisting, so expect to practice and experiment a bit before finding the way that’s right for you.

Happy twisting!

P.S. Sometimes people mix up terminology, which can be very confusing. This process is called twisting, not winding. Winding is the process of wrapping yarn around something in a circular motion, like winding yarn on a bobbin or winding a skein from a cone with a skein winder. Twisting is the process of wrapping two things around each other – like twisting fibers together to make yarn or twisting strands of yarn together to ply them, or twisting a skein back on itself to make it a tidy bundle.

Carrie Sundra is an engineer with a serious yarn addiction, who decided to leave a life of electronics and high-tech spy planes for hand-dyeing and knitting. Alpenglow Yarn started in 2009 with 3 words: Glowing Natural Color. Her most well-known products, the SkeinMinder and SkeinTwister, add automation to winding and twisting operations, make the process more efficient, and help scale up production. You can find out more at alpenglowyarn.com.

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PLY Magazine believes that Black lives matter, as well as LBGTQI+ lives. Those most vulnerable and persecuted in our communities deserve our love and support. Please be good to each other.

July Vlog with Jacey and Jillian

For this quarter’s vlog, Jacey and Jillian share their favorite parts of the Electric issue, including the story of the creation of the cover. Then Jillian spotlights the vendors who contributed fiber, wheels, or other items to this issue. Following the Electric theme, Jacey and Jillian take a spin on their new Hansen miniSpinner Pros; Jillian has been spinning on it for a little while and this was Jacey’s first spin. They discuss the advantages of this wheel and how it differs from the Classic. Laura Linneman, who researched the information for the chart of e-spinners in this issue was on hand to answer questions about e-spinners. Can you spin singles on a treadle wheel but ply on an e-spinner? And can you leave an e-spinner made of plastic in a hot car? (Yes, as long as it’s a specific type of plastic—those differences in plastic are also discussed.) Next up is information about next year’s PLYAway (finally, we’ll get to be together in person again!), including some teasers on the teachers and some of the classes that will be offered. (Classes will be listed on the website in late August and registration will be in October.) The vlog ends with teasers for the upcoming Autumn issue on Consistency.

Links mentioned in this quarter’s video

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PLY Magazine believes that Black lives matter, as well as LBGTQI+ lives. Those most vulnerable and persecuted in our communities deserve our love and support. Please be good to each other.

Send Us Your Tips

We often spin yarns to cover the heads and hands of kinds, what is the best handspun for these high-wear but low-care projects? Blends, structures, fibers?

Share your tip by going to our Tip Jar submission page.

We share tips in every issue of PLY; these tips will for the Head and Hands Winter 2021 issue.

The person who submits our favorite tip will get a prize from us! It’s our way of saying thanks for sharing your wisdom with the PLY readers.

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PLY Magazine believes that Black lives matter, as well as LBGTQI+ lives. Those most vulnerable and persecuted in our communities deserve our love and support. Please be good to each other.

3D-Printing Spinning Tools

words and photos by Sissel Brun Ellevseth

When the Coronavirus cancelled our plans for summer vacation, I decided to invest the airfare refund in a 3D printer. The initial thought was to print fun stuff for the kids, useful things for the house, and bobbins for my EEW Nano and other tools for spinning and weaving. The printer is useful for all sorts of projects. Where I earlier had to make things of wood or metal, I can draw up my project on the computer and some hours later the finished thing is ready. Now, I must admit, it not always quite as easy as that. There have been a lot of trials and errors, a lot of hours cursing the computer for not understanding what I want it to do for me in the design program, and the occasional spaghetti incidents.

A lot of finished designs for spinners are available on sites like Thingiverse, ranging from simple drop spindles to entire plans for electric spinners. On Thingiverse, all files are free to use, and some you can even print for sale. Just be sure the designer has released the design with such a license. It is never fun to find your design being sold on Etsy by someone else if your intent is just to share designs for personal use.

The first 3D-printed spindles I saw in a spinning forum was Chivampi’s dealgan back in 2016. I had never even seen a spindle like that, and 3D-printing itself was quite new to me. The dealgan spindle is of Scottish origin from the 18th century and doubles as a nostepinne if you wind your yarn right. A dealgan is an easy to print, easy to use spindle (once you get your leader attached), and the spindle can be used just as is, straight from the printer. You can find a couple more dealgan designs on Thingiverse too if you should want a little more curved look. There are often many different options on a theme, and it is always encouraged to post makes and adaptions to a design; just remember to be nice and credit the designer if you use an existing design as a template.

Another fun and easy printed spindle project is Scott Snyder’s little Mayan paddle spindle. The design requires a 22mm bearing and a stick to get going, but if you have some of those fidget spinners lying around, you can easily pop out a bearing from the center of one. Since you now have a fidget spinner with no spinner action in sight, why not check out Scott’s other designs and print up a top whorl fidget spinner adaptor? Find a dowel and a hook and you will have two cool new spindle toys to play with.

Some of you might like a small distaff to help manage the wool while spindling. Verdrus uploaded a nice finger distaff a while back. I printed this design in wood-filament which is plastic containing real wood fibers. A print in wood filament can be sanded and oiled like real wood. I find this filament needs a lot of sanding and finishing while other plastic filaments are much easier to use, like the most common in use polylactide (PLA) family.

PLA comes in a wide array of colors and finishes. It prints on fairly low temperatures and can be used on the simplest of printers. PLA is a renewable thermoplastic and a polymer. It is “processed” from the starch of plants such as corn, sugar cane, and sugar beet, making it environmentally friendly and sustainable. It will not stand well for heat so it should not be used for things that will need to withstand the heat from the sun.

Now that you have made your spindles, you might need a niddy-noddy to skein your yarn? You have several designs to choose
from, like this quite easy to print, one-yard niddy-noddy from Sarahspins.

Are you going to knit with your yarn? Check out the sock blockers, stitch markers, yarn bobbins, and even several yarn ball winder designs available out there. Some even have full plans to motorize the winder. Now, not all designs available will hold water. There are incomplete files and downright awkward designs, but there are also perfect designs. You just have to go exploring. Be aware though, time flies when you’re down the rabbit hole… Other than Thingiverse, several other sites offer printing files both for free and for payment. Yeggi.com and stlfinder.com are useful search engines that will help you search multiple sites at once.

You can also find a lot of different bobbins and some other wheel accessories for various wheels to print too, like for the EEW e-spinner family. In addition to the EEW community’s designs, Maurice Ribble – the inventor of the EEW e-spinners – has made all design files for bobbins and accessories available to print and customize the spinners. He even allows people with 3D-printers to print and sell his designs. The EEW Nano has a lot of gadgets to choose from like battery boxes, various lazy kates, bobbins and yarn guides. With the new EEW 6.0 with its big bobbin capacity, I expect we are going to see some very cool bobbin designs in the future.

For the much smaller Nano, you have a lot to choose from if you want to buy finished fancy bobbins. Swedish Wool and Yarns as well as Snyder Spindles on Etsy sell fun bobbins, as do Snortimers Hub and Theresa Ehlers from their own web shops, and there are others out there offering the standard bobbins Maurice has designed.

Designing for 3D-printing can be done in various programs. I like Fusion360, which is free for personal use with limited functionality. It is quite an advanced program, and I don’t need the limited functions for my designs in any case, so the light version is good for me. One other commonly used program from the same developer is Tinkercad, a simpler program which also is free to use. Any design program will take some time to learn to use, but when you master designing on the computer there is little limit on what you can make. My husband is my best customer, often coming home with ideas of what I could make to hang this and that to the walls in his home brewery. I have also repaired toys for the kids by replacing a water tank in a loved fire truck, rebuilding the trailer hitch on a small car model, and making tons of Among Us miniatures for the tween.

I find the 3D-printer especially useful for making band weaving heddles in all sizes imaginable, and I have made loads of the different Turkish spindles on Thingiverse to gift my friends who are interested in spindling.

3D-printing as a hobby is both fun and challenging. A lot of resources are available online to master both designing and how to perfect your prints, and a lot of forums are available online to get answers to problems. There are a lot of different printers available in all price ranges, so if you are in the market for a printer, be sure to use your time to choose the right one. If you don’t want to invest in a printer yourself, some libraries have printers and will let you use them, sometimes for a fee. Also, if you have a Makerspace community in your area, go check them out! Makerspaces usually have printers and all the other cool toys and tools, and Makerspace people are usually super cool people.

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PLY Magazine believes that Black lives matter, as well as LBGTQI+ lives. Those most vulnerable and persecuted in our communities deserve our love and support. Please be good to each other.

Spinners During Lockdown

Thanks so much, everyone, for sharing your experiences of spinning during lockdown. We’ve shared responses throughout the past few months in the newsletter and blog. Here’s the final collection of responses.

“I have been spinning on my wheel to calm my mind if it was too frazzled to knit. I have also ordered fibre online from producers I hadn’t tried before, such as the fabulous Countess Ablaze. It’s a pity many producers haven’t been able to restock their shops or send out to customers easily, but I had a good time spinning what I could get, and planning the projects to make with the finished yarns.” ~Mickey T., UK “For Christmas received an e-spinner so learning to spin on a wheel since I have been using spindles. Love listening to audio books while I spin. Very relaxing while I spin fiber samples, learning as I go.” ~Marilou, Murrysville, PA

“Around the start of the pandemic, I had been in a spinning slump for a while. But once I was working from home, it was much easier to get a little spinning done here and there, not to mention the time gained from not commuting. My mojo came back, and over the summer I found myself (finally!) finishing processing my first fleece, a Jacob that I split into three groups by color, combed and spun. In the fall I made a great big comfy shawl out of that yarn that’s the perfect thing to wrap up in on chilly mornings.” ~Daisy F. W., Columbus, OH

“On my electric wheel.” ~Jessica P., Clifton, TN

“Sitting in my recliner with my 3 mini dachshunds. I use my Hansen pro and have been working on an order of lace weight 100 percent vicuna. Mostly I’ve been spinning exotics the last few months to restock my online stores. The luxury yarns such as qiviut, mink, and cashmere seem to sell out pretty quickly. Next up is to tackle the mountain of French Angora fiber from my bunnies, then back to exotics.” ~Gayle P., Coos Bay, Oregon

“Yak/silk dyed by Greenwood Fiberworks on support spindles and BFL gradients on my wheel from The 100th Sheep.” ~Katrina K., Colorado

“I mostly used a drop spindle and spun infrequently. Once the pandemic measures were in place, I didn’t have the bandwidth to work on my usual lace projects. Spinning was a simpler more soothing , stress relieving activity. I took up support spindling for even more ease on the body. I’ve really embraced the spinster life. My collection of spindles has gotten a little out of control and I’ve been experimenting with lots of different fibers. Spinning has definitely (for now) overtaken knitting as my #1 hobby.” ~Marilyn E., Dallas, TX

“A friend who lives near a bison farm sent me a big bag of fiber. She’s not a spinner, and she said ‘it’s not much, sorry’ but it’s an overstuffed 2-gallon ziploc bag! It’s now all been washed and I’ve been chipping away at it as I binge-watch TV. Some of it is too short for me to manage and some of it is coarse, so it’s like hunting for treasure in this big bag, but I’m finding lovely, soft fiber about 1-1.5″” long and cleaning out the grit with a dog flea comb because my carders made a mess of it. If nothing else this pandemic has taught me patience and given me the time for projects like this. I am spinning it on a fairly light spindle and the spinning goes beautifully, it’s the prep that’s taking forever, but it’s destined to be the weft for a scarf that will go to the friend who send me the fiber.” ~Anne S., Los Angeles, CA

“More than usual. Over 5,5 kg 2 ply yarn and total in singles over 29000 meters. Part of it from my own sheep’s wool.” ~Sanne H., Sweden

“I was lucky enough to be able to take a full-day breed study class with Devin Helmen last winter in which I learned about the Shave ’Em to Save ’Em program. So I embarked upon that last summer and have been using it as DIY professional development – I’m shooting for completing 15 breeds by Labor Day 2021 (just finished #5 this morning).” ~Lindsey S., Stanwood, WA

“Non stop . Actually when I’m not working!” ~Susan B., Port Sydney, Ontario

“I started spinning around 3 years ago, but hadn’t touched my wheel in 18 months, my hands were constantly sore especially my fingers, and it was almost impossible to draft and or spin, then I moved from a hardwater area to Lincolnshire lockdown 3 arrived and although my hands were constantly being washed they started to heal, I seemed to be reading about other peoples spinning tales, questions and seeing beautiful yarns being created, inspiration all around so I dug the wheel out of its cupboard (Ashford Joy 2) and tried spinning some Jacobs to see if I could still do it. In my stash I have merino, Jacobs silk, Polwarth, amazing how much you can acquire I am now on Merino/silk the days fly by as my wheel spins away, I am by no means perfect, but getting more consistent, but most of all I am enjoying myself, its very therapeutic, and the days fly by looking forward to when I can sit in the garden and spin, for now I am in the living room, trying not to take over the whole room! How am I spinning in one word, happily.” ~Sandra M., Lincolnshire

“Going back to basics – drop spindle-and learning new spinning methods – takli and supported spindle.” ~Christi, Nebraska

“Before the pandemic I had a monthly spinning meetup at a yarn shop in Ontario, once the pandemic hit we could not longer meet in person so now each week on Sunday at 11:00am we meet virtual and spin together. It is a fun way to relieve stress and chat with other spinners while working on projects and having a show and tell session. Conversation is often lively and humorous but also supportive and caring as each of us have had our own struggles with the pandemic. Some of the spinning group requested that we start a breed study to help pass the time and continue learning about spinning and sheep fibre. Each month I distribute a fleece to all and we wash, process, discuss and spin our portion of the fleece. Each of these events give us something to look forward to and keeps our group open and sharing information about sheep and spinning and fibre. It is a wonderful supportive group that allows us laughter and relief. We are thankful for each other as it helps keeps us grounded and sharing about our spinning adventures.” ~Jane S., Ontario, Canada

“Our guild, Treadles to Threads has had a drop-in casual spinning group on Monday afternoons at various member’s homes. When we were locked down we went to Zoom. There are usually 10-15 people who meet up including some who have moved away. We share what we are working on, get help from each other on spinning and knitting, etc. Our guild is working on a Jacob Sheep project using the yarn to knit one of two sheep related hats. Jacob Sheep have white, brown, black and gray wool. We have a member who has a flock of these sheep. Deb Robson gave a presentation to our guild (via Zoom) this year and we decided to use the Jacob Sheep wool as part of primitive breeds. We have been busy and in touch with each other and our fiber crafts!” ~Joan A. Walnut Creek

“If anything the pandemic changed my daily routine from having time to pick what I wanted to do to having to be more creative with my time. I became the full time caregiver to my two grandsons, which included virtual school. I’m working on my level II Master spinner certification from Olds College so I’m spinning lots of camelids and fine wools. We also acquired our first flock of Finn sheep (in the fall of 2020) on our small homestead. I’m fitting spinning in where ever I can (during zoom school for the boys), in between animal chores and now gardening. I’ve also enjoyed more zoom spin ins with friends from school and joined other spin groups with zoom! I do enjoy that I have these outlets to see others and spin at the same time!” ~Wendy C., Rochester, WA

“Constantly, but finally used some of my stash and actually knitted 2 sweaters!!” ~Susan S., Marshall, NC

“I’ve spun my remaining North Ronaldsay roving … a joy for the senses.” ~Sharon G., Kentucky

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PLY Magazine believes that Black lives matter, as well as LBGTQI+ lives. Those most vulnerable and persecuted in our communities deserve our love and support. Please be good to each other.

Review of Power Spinning (video) from Sarah Anderson

reviewed by Sukrita Mahon

Electric spinning has been around for some decades now and is seeing a rise in popularity, particularly in the past ten years. Most spinners have their preferences based on their lifestyle, whether they opt for spindles, wheels, or e-spinners. The devices take up little space, can be reasonably affordable, and are capable of making any kind of yarn. There don’t seem to be any downsides, other than simply lacking the “feel” of treadling or spindling.

Accessibility makes electric spinning very attractive: spinning on a wheel or spindle can be taxing to the body in all kinds of ways that don’t happen on an e-spinner. For people with mobility issues, it can make a huge difference in being able to focus on the spinning itself. I’ve even known people who love to take them on road trips, spinning in the passenger seat or in the back of a caravan, where wheels or spindles may be impractical. An advantage that particularly appeals to me is that there is no need to worry about wheel ratios; any kind of yarn is doable with the turn of a knob.

It’s interesting then to note that so few resources are available about e-spinning; no major books have yet been released about it. Part of the reason could be that there is just little to say that hasn’t been covered in other books, but I’m not sure.

About the length of a Hollywood movie, Power Spinning by Sarah Anderson is set in a craft room, with yarn and knits furnishing the walls. Sarah is seated on a small table with an electric wheel and guides us throughout the video.

The first third or so is dedicated to a general understanding of the components and varieties. Next she talks about the actual spinning, which is explained clearly – beneficial for those who may need the instruction. There is a portion about making slub yarn that I enjoyed. Sarah is a good teacher and makes sure to explain what to expect and look for at each step while making the yarn. She demonstrates spinning woollen yarn in different fibres, including cotton, which could be useful to some. However, this video, while very informative, is lacking subtitles or transcripts, which could be an issue for some viewers.

Personally, as someone who has been spinning for a while, I didn’t learn much from the video. I tried electric spinning briefly at a local guild and found it quite intuitive, so to my mind, a guide wasn’t necessary. Ravelry forums were mentioned a fair bit, which makes me wonder if all the relevant information is already available for free online. I have to admit that I found it a little tedious in parts, to the extent that the poor editing made me rewind in amusement.

For someone just starting out though, who is interested in giving spinning a try for the first time, this provides a great resource with lots of advice and tips. As self-taught beginners, spinners end up watching quite a lot of video content, but I’ve found that it’s all useful in subtle ways.


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