Spinning a distraction

words by Alissa Barton, fiber and yarn photos by Alissa Barton, photo of Alissa by Brad Barton, photos of sheep by Sian Tarrant

Anyone who follows my social media (see bio at end) will have noticed I spent the very early part of 2020 spinning some gorgeous purple roving. As a handspinner, I appreciate the story behind the wool, and this particular wool and this particular sheep have a fascinating story.

North Ronaldsay is a tiny, remote island off the coast of Scotland – part of a group of islands called the Orkney Islands. North Ronaldsay is the northern-most of these islands, lying farther north than the tip of Norway. The island was inhabited as early as the Iron Age, and some stone buildings from this era still stand. Nobody knows for certain how or when the sheep came to the island, but the North Ronaldsay sheep are part of a group of sheep breeds called Northern European Short-tailed Sheep. These are tiny little sheep, very primitive in their genetics – meaning they have not been bred or “improved” by mixing with other breeds to change characteristics such as meat yield or fiber quality. They stand only about 16 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh about 55 pounds or so. Each sheep produces a fleece weighing only about 2 pounds. Compare that to your average Merino fleece which can weigh upwards of 25 pounds and you can begin to see why there isn’t much North Ronaldsay wool in the market.

There are two main flocks in the world: one on North Ronaldsay and another that was moved to Orkney in the 80s. The North Ronaldsay flock is community owned, with each crofter being allowed to own so many. The flock is governed by the world’s only remaining “Sheep Court,” which originally consisted of 11 men (10 locals and a vet), but these days anyone with a stake in the flock is welcome. Only 50 people remain to inhabit the island which used to support about 500. Most of the population is older; the last student graduated and the school was shuttered years ago.

Other than their remarkable size, there is one more special thing I find fascinating about North Ronaldsay sheep. They eat only seaweed! Back in the early 1800s most of the people who lived on the island made their living harvesting seaweed and turning it into soda ash. The market for soda ash collapsed, so the decision was made to turn the islanders into farmers instead. The world’s longest dry stone wall (or sheep dyke) was built from native rock around the entire perimeter of the island – over 13 miles of wall. This wall keeps the sheep on the shore and allows the inhabitants to improve the interior of the island to better suit the raising of food crops and farm animals, including other breeds of sheep and cattle. The entire island isn’t very large, only about 2.7 square miles, so there isn’t much room for even that. The dyke keeps the sheep on the shore where their food supply is and also keeps them from getting inland and breeding with other sheep and diluting the breed. In fact, their very special diet keeps them from being able to graze on regular grass. They can get copper poisoning from the grass and die. There are very few of these sheep left in the world, with only about 600 ewes (females) still breeding. The Rare Breeds Survival Trust lists them as vulnerable.

All of this does nothing to explain my fascination with them, so here is how it began: I have a dear friend who was facing some pretty ugly medical stuff. The day before her first major surgery, I was reading through my morning news feeds while she and I were texting about the presurgical horrors she was enduring, and I stumbled upon an article advertising that the Sheep Court of North Ronaldsay Scotland was looking for a new Sheep Dyke Warden, someone who would come live on the island and repair the dry stone wall, who would be responsible for keeping the sheep on the shore and healthy. There were no real job specs given; you had to be willing to live and work in a harsh climate (wind swept, often stormy, rocky, full of birds and natural beauty) and walk miles and miles surveying, repairing, and exploring this beautiful old wall. You got to talk to the feral sheep – these sheep are actually handled very rarely, only during lambing season and when the herd is culled; otherwise, they roam the rocky, sandy shores of the island doing sheepy things. I found a picture online of the sheep (my friend is a spinner and knitter as well) and said, “You know, you could just skip all this surgery stuff and we could go do the sheep warden thing instead.” I knew full well she wouldn’t, but the fantasy was born and during her ongoing ordeal I would send her pictures of the sheep or the island, anything to divert her attention from the real situation, if only briefly.

One day, I found a shop update for one of my favorite dyers of fiber, Sheepspot from Ontario, Canada. I adore Sasha’s podcast where she talks about her quest to bring endangered sheep’s fleeces into the hands of everyday spinners and to expand everyone’s knowledge about these breeds to try to save them. Sasha had obtained a small amount of North Ronaldsay wool, which she had dyed and put in her shop after airing an episode about the breed. I ordered some! I got this lovely, violet wool that is very different from any other kind of wool I had ever spun, but with my friend facing yet another surgery, I was determined to spin it right away and see what would come to pass.

These sheep are double coated, meaning they have a soft, downy inner coat and a wiry outer coat. The inner coat keeps them warm. The outer coat wicks the water away from their skin. The outer coat is rough and not that great in handspun, and this wool still had a bit of that outer coat in the fiber. I decided I would spindle spin it on my Turkish spindles and carefully remove the outer hairs as I spun. Ha! That plan was quickly thrown out in the first 15 minutes of spinning. I decided instead I just needed to accept the fiber for what it was and enjoy the spin, not worrying about what I would do with the finished yarn just yet. It would become something.

I learned that the wool I was spinning was processed right there on North Ronaldsay in a wool mill made in Canada by Belfast Mini Mills. I had toured the little family-owned factory just months before while teaching on the Craft Cruises tour of Canada and New England. These mini mills allow for small batch processing of boutique fibers and yarns. The tour was fascinating. I highly recommend stopping by if you find yourself on Prince Edward Island, or you can virtually tour the mill factory yourself on their webpage. The Sheep Court purchased and installed a mill in the bottom floor of the old lighthouse on the island, and you can purchase finished yarns direct from that mill.

While I spun and my friend recovered, the Sheep Court was able to fill our dream position. I am beyond excited to tell you that the new Sheep Dyke Warden of North Ronaldsay Island is Sian Tarrant, a 28-year-old woman! Sian has started a fabulous blog about her adventures.

In the meantime, my 4-ounce bundle of roving became 380 yards of 2-ply fingering weight yarn. It is a wee bit rough for close to the skin wear, so socks were right out. Dreaming of teaching on a future cruise of the British Isles, I chose to knit my North Ronaldsay wool into a small poncho/shoulder cover. The virus has kept me home so far, but someday I will have a beautiful picture of me, standing on a ship, wearing this special piece. Better yet, my friend has made it through.

Alissa Barton (Knitting Fairy Original Designs) learned to knit and spin as a child and has never stopped. She discovered a love of teaching crafts in high school and has taught classes around the U.S. since 1990. She has published two books on knitting with bamboo and is currently working on her next book. You can find her on Ravelry, Facebook, Twitter, and Patreon as KnittingFairy and as TheKnittingFairy on Instagram.

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Not All Shetlands Are Double Coated

words and photos by Lynne Peachey

Recently, there has been much discussion on social networks concerning the Shetland sheep being double coated. But not all Shetlands are double coated, so spinners should be aware of the product they can expect when ordering a Shetland fleece for spinning.

Generally, in the UK the Shetland sheep in not dual coated. The fleece is very fine, of medium length staple, and with a soft handle. This type of Shetland could be considered the “classic” type.

During the latter part of the past century, breeders on the UK mainland, adhering to the Shetland Flock Book Society Standard and tradition have bred to maintain a fine-wooled, single-coated phenotype reflecting the best that Shetland had to offer.

The 1927 Standard which breeders work and show to states, “Wool – Extra fine and soft texture, longish, wavy, and well closed.” Judges look for around 10 crimps per inch when selecting a show winner.

The Shetland sheep is a primitive sheep, which means it is very hardy, surviving outside during winter when some commercial breeds would need to be housed. They also browse on various vegetation rather than depending on only lush grass. Having said that, it is believed that sheep with this fine fleece would not survive into old age on Shetland. And it is on the island of Foula (one of the Shetland isles) where this “double coated” type would be particularly found experiencing even wilder weather!

Some Shetland breeders sell their older ewes to a more southerly environment where it is not such a challenge to survive the winter.

On my visits to Shetland, I did note that some flocks bred for meat production have been progressively selected to provide a larger animal. These are still Shetland sheep but provide more meat and a larger, good single-coated fleece. I processed a beautiful large white fleece which I spun as a double knit equivalent and knitted a hip-length aran jumper. This fleece weighed about 3k, whereas the general Shetland on the mainland may yield about 2k.

Pure-bred Shetland sheep tend to shed their fleece in spring (sometimes starting as early as February!). The growth of new fleece can cause a rise or break, and where this is present the fleece can be plucked or rooed by hand. This process does not hurt the sheep, and in fact some of the older ones enjoy the process as we would with a spa treatment! The timing of this can be different in each individual sheep. Rooed fleece can be amongst the softest because the fibres have no harsh cut ends as occurs with a sheared fleece, and since it is not shorn, there are no second cuts!

For more information and pictures about the different types of Shetland fleeces, see Shetland Fleece Types on the North American Shetland Sheepbreeders Association website.

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April Vlog with Jacey and Jillian

On April 24, Jacey Faulkner and Jillian Moreno hosted another quarterly PLY vlog, with a live virtual chat with spinners from all over. If you missed it (or want to watch it again), you can catch up with it on YouTube. In this video, Jacey and Jillian share their favorite parts of the Spring 2021 Double-Coated issue, including the indie businesses that provided fiber or tools for the issue. Check out the behind-the-scenes information that Jacey talks about with the progression of one of the illustrations in the issue; you’ll get a good laugh at the earlier versions! Also, Jacey explains why the issue’s cover looks different than expected and originally presented. Jacey and Jillian also each spin on a Daedalus Sparrow, which is a really fun e-spinner. And Jacey shares tips for teaching kids how to spin, using her son as an example. Finally, get a sneak peek of the upcoming Summer Electric issue, which comes out at the beginning of June.

Links mentioned in this quarter’s video

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Replicating Lopi by Substitution

words and photos by Alexina Hicks

I like Istex lopi yarn. It’s got character, it’s pretty unique in its genre, and it garners the shelves of a huge section in Icelandic grocery stores for more affordable prices than junk food. It isn’t a surprise that many passionate handspinners have conducted extensive studies to determine how to recreate this type of yarn. What if I want to spin a DIY lopi yarn but I don’t have any Icelandic wool? Can I replicate the effect of lopi yarn by substitution? What do I need to get as close as possible to it? For my research to be as exact as possible, I needed to create a database of comparisons between handspun Icelandic lopi and multiple imitation samples. Through differentiation, I can grasp which components make lopi unique and which characteristics to strive for in order to imitate it.

Real deal lopi

For starters, I must define what lopi is. Thus I observed a strand of mill-spun Istex Léttlopi for a quick analysis. It is a singles yarn of about 9 WPI. The Z twist angle is somewhere between 10 and 15 degrees. To the touch, it feels as if it were finished by fulling. This makes sense since the process gives the singles yarn more strength. The composition is a blend of the undercoat and outercoat of Icelandic sheep. The preparation for spinning clearly seems carded as the alignment of the fibers and the halo effect stray away from worsted characteristics.

I then moved on to observing the locks from two fleeces I acquired during festival excursions: one golden brown and one stunningly grey and black. My goal was to distinguish the parts that make up lopi. I separated the two coats by hand, pinching the tip of the outercoat and wriggling it playfully right and left as I tugged it out of the undercoat. This undercoat, known as thel, is incredibly soft, airy, and fine. It also feels a little dry. It’s matte in appearance. The crimp is weak, uneven and somewhat flat. It’s a perfect example that low micron is not always synonymous with high crimp. The length is about 2.5 inches long. The outercoat, tog, is very inconsistent in length, ranging from 6 to 9 inches long. Luster is high, and the micron is also clearly high as it quite resembles hair. The crimp is almost non-existent at 3 waves per 5 inches.

I took multiple measures of the tog and thel ratio from the two fleeces. The results were constant, and the average is 45% tog and 55% thel.

From the Icelandic fiber I intended to spin two sample types. In one, the locks were carded as is, like Léttlopi. In the other, I separated the two coats first and then blended them with the measured ratio. I wished to determine if that extra step distorted the lopi. If so, I should expect my replicated samples to be different from the get-go.

I carded and dizzed the wool off into roving. I then settled at the wheel. My Majacraft Rose likes to dance this song to a ratio of 6:1 for a good groove. I drafted at every treadle to keep twist to a minimum. I started with the true lopi preparation. The two lengths and textures interplaying gave me a slight shock. I found that a backwards draft helped pull out both types of fibers. Used to spinning fine, I needed to adjust to fatten my strand to the right size, but the fibers were struggling against me and refusing to offer a constant flow. Once I did get the size I was looking for, suddenly thickness alone seemed to naturally draft out both types of fibers. As I spun the combined preparation, I noticed it was actually a little easier to spin, but wherever the fibers were not perfectly blended, each coat agglomerated when pulled out by the twist.

Once done, I gave the skeins a nice spa treatment with fulling. Then I showed them who’s boss and thwacked them silly. Finally I hung them up and kissed them goodnight. When I returned, they were all relaxed. The first thing I noticed occurred during a rub test on my neck. The yarns have different scratch levels. Between carding the locks and carding the two separated coats together, the first is definitely softer. After mulling it over, I realized that when I positioned the locks onto my hand cards, the thel was the first one to naturally nestle into the tines, while the tog remained in my hand and needed to be layered over. This was contrary to the order in which I had placed my 2 separated coats on the cards to blend them.

I prepped a new sample, separating the 2 coats and layering first tog, then thel. I blended more thoroughly. Once spun up, I’m astonished; the singles yarn is now softer, more similar to the original lopi sample. I knit swatches and can see the togthen-thel combination stands out: more toothy with wiry stitches and a soft halo missing. The brown wool has a more golden shade from the outercoat. In contrast, the thelthentog is almost identical to original lopi.

Replicating with other wools

Next was time to be creative and have fun. I did some stashdiving and pulled out participants.

As stand-in for tog, I selected Cotswold and Karakul. Cotswold is similar in luster but shorter, and the crimp is tighter. Karakul is similar in crimp and density but with a much higher micron count, and it is a double-coat blend in itself.

As stand-in for thel, I selected Cheviot, Jacob, and Finn. All three were chosen for their staple length akin to the Icelandic undercoat. Cheviot was chosen for its dryness, Jacob for its similar feel to thel. Finn was chosen for its softness similar to the undercoat and as an attempt to counteract the toothier longwools.

As I got ready to mix wools per ratio, I wavered, wondering if it wasn’t a little sacrilegious to take soft wools and mix them with a coarser fiber. Isn’t the trend to enhance softness? What could motivate this procedure?

The pragmatic answer that comes to mind is science; this experiment extrapolates on the two roles of the Icelandic double-coat: thel offers impermeability and tog helps to cut the wind. If I want to make outergarments, I need to understand how to imitate lopi to maximise these traits. I also find a reason coming from the heart. I enjoy spinning all wools, including that of coarser breeds. But I don’t always have a project to match the spin because the result is too rough for my skin. A lopi imitation would give extra meaning to those longwools we love to spin but aren’t sure we want to wear.

I started with two mixes: Karakul/Jacob and Karakul/Finn. During spinning they both feel more puffy and are easier to draft out. The resulting yarns are similarly dry to the Icelandic ones, but are lacking sheen. In retrospect, I realize the Karakul’s undercoat must have affected the ratios of my sampling with more shorter fibres, which are matte and voluminous. Knit up, Karakul/Finn has a round stitch similar to Icelandic. Karakul/Jacob yields a flat fabric and is the most rustic of all the yarns. Still, I’m pleasantly surprised to discover that although the Karakul mixes are rougher than Icelandic, they feel softer as a fabric than as a yarn, and I’m comfortable at the idea of wearing them.

I also spun Cotswold and Cheviot, which achieves a halo, but the longwool clearly has more fibres per weight than tog. Knit up, the yarn is more stringy and dense. Furthermore, the general appearance and texture is clearly down-like.

I moved on to Cotswold and Finn. This mix certainly feels amazing, but it’s definitely not as dry.  It’s slightly softer but not by much. The glow from the Cotswold shines through, imitating Icelandic.

Finally I tried combining some super long Cotswold (about 11 inches long) with my short Cheviot that barely reached 2 inches. I could only spin the longer fibers and the shorter ones surrounded the core unevenly, giving a wacky halo without actually gripping properly into the twist. The knit swatch shows a thin stitch and the Cheviot gives a chalky but diaphanous complexion and texture.

A difference shared by all mixes compared to Icelandic is elasticity. The Icelandic skeins have maintained the same circumference from when they came off the niddy-noddy. The others have shortened, pulled tight by the crimp of the short wools. We can also clearly see it in the width of the knit swatches.

Verdict: Can I make a true fake lopi?

All things considered, Icelandic wool is incomparable. But so is each type of wool. However, my answer is a little more nuanced regarding the necessity to make lopi exclusively with Icelandic wool. Let’s look at it this way: Can I make waffles without using wheat flour? If I use something else, are they no longer waffles? With the right adjustments, I can get close to the real thing. The taste is a little different, but the shape and presentation make the cut. So why not make a substitute yarn and call it a lopi?

If you wish to make a DIY lopi with your fiber stash, here are key elements that contribute to proper substitution:

  • Weigh for a ratio. Aim for a bit more of the shorter, finer stuff (around 55%) and a bit less than half of the coarser, longer stuff.
  • Layer the shorter fibers first when carding.
  • Blend your short and long fibers well.
  • Plan for a moderate difference in length between your two types of fibers, estimated at a third.
  • Check your crimp since it will drastically impact the thickness of your singles and the elasticity. For example, the Cheviot felt like an outsider with its helical crimp dominating the yarn.
  • Aim for luster in at least one of your ingredients.
  • Adjust softness levels by compensating one wool’s micron with the other.


Every step of the process was rewarding. The act of knitting the yarns triggered an irresistible desire to initiate woolly projects. I’m inspired to use coarser wools, and I’ve gained the confidence that I can make something wearable with them.
Even though rice flour waffles aren’t the same as whole wheat ones, the flavours brought on by substitution can still be rich and welcome. Luckily this principle applies likewise to my spinner’s diet!

Alexina Hicks with her husband and their children live in the charming countryside of Quebec, Canada, where she dedicates her days to her Master Spinner studies and teaches spinning, knitting, and all things in-between. Together with her darling man they form L’aime Laine (The Wool Lover), creating spindles and other spinning tools as well as handprocessed fibres from local farms. Learn more at www.alexinahicks.com.

Lopi par substitution

écrit par Alexina Hicks

Je suis de celles qui aiment la laine Istex lopi. Elle a du caractère, elle est unique en son genre et elle garnit les étagères d’une grande section des épiceries islandaises pour des prix plus abordables que les croustilles. Ce n’est donc pas surprenant que plusieurs fileuses passionnées aient déjà mené des études élaborées pour déterminer comment imiter ce type de fil. Et si par exemple je souhaitais filer une laine lopi DIY, mais que je n’avais pas de fibres islandaises? Est-ce que je pourrais imiter l’effet d’une laine lopi par substitution? Quelles seraient les conditions nécessaires pour arriver au meilleur résultat?

Ce questionnement offre l’opportunité d’une nouvelle étude. Afin que ma recherche soit la plus pertinente possible, je dois monter une base de données comparative entre la lopi islandaise filée à la main et de multiples échantillons d’imitation. C’est en les examinant que je cernerai quels éléments rendent la lopi unique et quelles caractérstiques viser.

La vraie affaire

Tout d’abord, il me faudrait définir ce qu’est la lopi. J’observe donc le fil provenant d’un écheveau Istex Léttlopi de filature pour une analyse rapide. C’est un brin d’environ 9 TPP (tours par pouce). L’angle de torsion se situe entre 10 et 15 degrés. Au toucher, on sent que le fil a été bloqué par chocs thermiques, sans agitation. C’est logique puisque le procédé offre plus de force au brin seul. Comme la plupart des lecteurs le savent, la composition est un mélange du sous-manteau et du manteau externe des moutons islandais. La préparation de filage semble clairement cardée puisque l’alignement des fibres et l’effet de halo s’éloignent des caractéristiques du style “worsted”.

(Photo 1) J’observe ensuite les mèches de deux sublimes toisons acquises lors de mes excursions dans des festivals, dont une brun doré et l’autre exquise par ses tons contrastants de gris et de noir. Mon but est de distinguer les parties formant la lopi.

Je sépare les deux manteaux à la main en pinçant la pointe des longues fibres pour les extraire  du sous-manteau, avec des secousses de gauche à droite, tout en tirant. Ce sous-manteau, connu sous le nom de thel, est très doux, léger et fin. Il semble un peu sec et il est d’apparence mate. L’ondulation est faible, inégale et en quelque sorte aplatie. C’est un bon exemple qui démontre qu’un micron bas n’est pas toujours synonyme d’une ondulation prononcée. La longueur est d’environ 2.5 pouces. Le manteau externe, le tog, est très inconstant en longueur, passant de 6 à 9 pouces de long. Le lustre est fort et le micron aussi, car la fibre s’apparente aux cheveux. L’ondulation est quasi inexistante avec 3 ondulations par 5 pouces.

Je prends plusieurs mesures du ratio tog versus thel sur les deux toisons. Les résultats sont constants et la moyenne est de 45% tog et 55% thel.

À partir de la fibre islandaise j’ai l’intention de filer deux types d’échantillons. Dans le premier, les mèches seront cardées telles quelles, comme la Léttlopi. Dans le second, je séparerai d’abord les deux manteaux puis je les mélangerai selon le ratio calculé. Je souhaite déterminer si cette étape supplémentaire changera le comportement du fil lopi. Si oui, je dois m’attendre à ce que mes échantillons d’imitation soient différents de prime abord.

Je carde et passe dans un diz pour créer un ruban. Je m’installe au rouet. Mon Majacraft Rose chéri me raconte qu’il aime danser sur cette chanson à un ratio de 6:1 pour un bon rythme. J’étire la fibre à chaque coup de pédale pour garder ma torsion au minimum. Je commence avec la préparation originale de lopi. L’interaction des deux longueurs et textures me causent un léger choc. Un étirage arrière m’aide à extirper les deux types de manteaux. Habituée au filage fin, je dois m’adapter pour élargir mon fil à la bonne taille, mais les fibres me résistent et refusent de former un fil égal. Une fois la taille recherchée atteinte, la largeur semble soudainement se calibrer pour marier naturellement les deux types de fibres. Je passe ensuite à la préparation combinée et je remarque qu’elle semble plus facile à filer. Cependant, là où le mélange n’est pas parfaitement égal, les manteaux ont tendance à s’agglomérer séparément.

Une fois le filage terminé, je donne aux deux écheveaux un traitement spa nordique avec chocs thermiques. Ensuite je leur montre qui est le boss avec une bonne fessée. Finalement, je les suspends, les embrasse et leur souhaite une bonne nuit. À mon retour, ils sont sagement détendus.

Lors du fameux test de “frotter dans le cou”, je fais ma première observation. Les laines varient dans leurs degrés de “piquant”. Entre carder les mèches et carder ensemble les deux manteaux, la première préparation est définitivement plus douce. Après réflexion, je réalise que lorsque j’ai appliqué les mèches sur mes cardes à main, le thel se logeait naturellement entre les pics en premier, alors que le tog restait dans ma main et devait être appliqué par-dessus. C’est le contraire de l’ordre dans lequel j’ai placé les manteaux séparés.

(Photo 2) Je prépare un nouvel échantillon en séparant les deux manteaux et en appliquant en premier le tog, ensuite le thel. Je mélange plus méticuleusement. Une fois filé le brin m’épate: il est maintenant plus doux, plus semblable à l’échantillon de lopi original. Je tricote des carrés tests et je vois que la combinaison “tog-puis-thel” sort du lot. Elle est plus rêche avec des mailles maigres et un halo manquant. La couleur en est même affectée, s’approchant de la teinte plus dorée du manteau extérieur. (Photo 3) En contraste, le “thel-puis-tog” est presque identique à la lopi d’origine.

Reproduire avec d’autres fibres

Le but est d’être créative et de m’amuser. Je sélectionne mes participants. (Photo 4) Pour remplacer le tog, je choisis le Cotswold et le Karakul. Le Cotswold est semblable en lustre, mais plus court et avec une ondulation plus étroite. Le Karakul a une ondulation et une densité similaires, mais avec un micron plus élevé et des fibres constituées d’un double manteau. (Photo 5) En tant que remplaçant du thel, je choisis le Cheviot, le Jacob et le Finnois. Tous trois ont été choisis pour leur longueur proche de celle du sous-manteau islandais. De plus, le Cheviot est choisi pour sa sécheresse, le Jacob pour son toucher semblable et le Finnois pour sa douceur analogue au sous-manteau et pour contrer les fibres longues plus rugueuses.

Alors que je me prépare à mélanger les laines par ratio, j’hésite, me demandant si ce n’est pas sacrilège de prendre des laines fines pour les combiner avec des fibres plus rêches. Le réflexe habituel n’est-il pas d’augmenter la douceur? Qu’est-ce qui motiverait cette démarche?

La réponse pragmatique qui me vient à l’esprit est de le faire au nom de la science. Cette étude extrapole sur les deux rôles des manteaux islandais, le thel offrant de l’imperméabilité et le tog aidant à couper le vent. Si je souhaite créer des vêtements d’extérieur, je dois comprendre comment imiter la lopi pour maximiser ces caractéristiques. Mais je découvre aussi une raison venant du coeur. J’apprécie de filer toutes les laines, incluant celles des variétés plus rustiques. Mais je n’ai pas toujours un projet qui s’agence au filage, car le résultat est trop rude pour ma peau. Une imitation de lopi donnerait d’autant plus de valeur aux fibres longues que nous aimons filer, mais que nous ne sommes pas certain de vouloir porter.

Je commence avec deux mélanges; Karakul/Jacob et Karakul/Finn. Durant le filage, ils sont plus faciles à étirer. Les fils qui en découlent sont semblablement secs comme l’islandais, mais tous deux manquent d’éclat et sont plus gonflés. Avec le recul, je réalise que le sous-manteau du Karakul doit avoir affecté les ratios de mon échantillonage avec les fibres plus courtes qui sont mates et volumineuses. (Photo 6) Au tricot, le Karakul/Finn a une rondeur de mailles semblable à de l’islandais. (Photo 7) Le tissu Karakul/Jacob a un rendement aplati et est le plus rugueux de toutes les laines créées. Tout de même, je suis agréablement surprise de découvrir que malgré la rusticité plus grande des mélanges Karakul, ils sont plus doux au toucher une fois tricotés qu’en tant que simple fil. Je suis à l’aise avec l’idée de les porter. (Photo 8)

Je file aussi du Cotswold avec du Cheviot. J’atteins un effet d’halo, mais le Cotswold a clairement plus de fibres par poids que le tog. Tricoté, l’effet est plus dense et filiforme. De plus, l’apparence générale et la texture sont clairement spécifiques aux laines de “type down”. (Photo 9)

Je passe au Cotswold avec Finnois. Ce mélange est très plaisant, mais n’est définitivement pas aussi sec. C’est légèrement plus doux. L’éclat du Cotswold ressort et imite celui de la lopi.

(Photo 10) Finalement, je tente de combiner du Cotswold très long, d’environ 11 pouces, avec mon Cheviot  qui peine à atteindre 2 pouces. Il en résulte que je me retrouve à ne pouvoir filer que les fibres longues, les plus courtes s’enroulant autour sans intégrer la torsion, créant un halo. L’échantillon tricoté montre des mailles minces et le Cheviot impose une apparence crayeuse et diaphane.

(Photo 11) En comparaison à l’islandais, une différence partagée par tous les mélanges est l’élasticité. Les écheveaux de fibres islandaises ont maintenu la même circonférence que lorsqu’ils ont été enlevés du mandrin. Les autres écheveaux ont plutôt rétréci, ramenés par l’ondulation des fibres courtes. Cela est mis en évidence par la largeur des échantillons tricotés. (Photo 12)

Verdict: Puis-je faire une vraie fausse lopi?

Tout bien considéré, la fibre du mouton islandais est incomparable. Ce qui est aussi vrai pour toutes les fibres. Ma réponse est toutefois nuancée sur la nécessité d’utiliser la laine islandaise pour faire la lopi. En effet ne puis-je pas faire des gauffres sans utiliser de la farine de blé? Si j’utilise une autre farine, peut-on dire que ce ne sont plus des gauffres? Avec les ajustements adéquats je peux en préserver l’essence. Le goût peut être différent, mais la forme et la présentation sera celle d’une gauffre. Alors pourquoi ne pas faire une laine substitut et lui reconnaître le procédé d’une lopi?

Si vous souhaitez faire une lopi DIY avec vos réserves de fibres, voici les éléments clés qui contribueront au succès de vos substitutions. (Photo 13)

  • Peser vos fibres selon le ratio. Visez une plus grande quantité de fibres courtes et fines (environ 55%) et un peu moins que la moitié des fibres plus longues et rustiques.
  • Déposer les fibres courtes en premier sur la carde.
  • Mélanger bien vos fibres (les courtes et les longues).
  • Prévoir un écart de longueur modéré entre vos types de fibres, estimé à un tiers.
  • Vérifier les ondulations, car cela aura un impact significatif sur l’épaisseur de votre brin ainsi que sur son élasticité. Par exemple, le Cheviot détonnait avec son ondulation hélicoïdale qui dominait le fil.
  • Sélectionner au moins un ingrédient pour son lustre.
  • Ajuster les niveaux de douceur en compensant le micron d’une laine avec une autre. (Photo 14)

Pensées après coup

Toutes les étapes du processus étaient gratifiantes. En tricotant, au simple contact des laines filées, un désir irrésistible de concrétiser des projets laineux s’installe. Je me sens maintenant inspirée à l’idée d’utiliser des laines plus coriaces. Jai également gagné en confiance qu’elles puissent devenir un vêtement non seulement confortable, mais pratique à porter.

Même si la farine de riz n’a pas les mêmes caractéristiques que la farine de blé, les saveurs amenées par la substitution sont tout de même riches et bienvenues. Heureusement ce principe s’applique aussi à ma diète de fileuse!

Alexina Hicks habite la belle campagne québécoise avec son mari et leurs enfants où elle se dédie à ses études de Maître Fileuse et enseigne le filage, le tricot et tout ce qui entoure ces disciplines. Avec son amoureux ils forment L’aime Laine, créant des fuseaux et autres outils du filage, ainsi que des fibres préparées à la main provenant de fermes locales. Apprenez-en plus sur www.alexinahicks.com.

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.

Fiber Salad: The Firehouse Spinners create lasting threads of connection

words and photos by Lisa Mitchell

In February 2020, we had no idea that The Fiber Salad Gathering would be one of our last meetings. As a newbie to spinning and the Whidbey Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild, I had been relishing the weekly gathering of spinners. That summer, when I first joined, I had never seen so many wonderful spinners in one place. Every Thursday this close-knit community of women gathered to spin together for 4 hours. With great food and extensive knowledge, they greeted me with open arms. When I won the Grand Champion ribbon for my handspun skein of guanaco laceweight yarn at Black Sheep Gathering, many of them were there with tears in their eyes. When I came back from my son’s wedding in California, they wanted a full report. I felt so fortunate to have found a circle of women who loved fiber and friends as much as I.

I’d been hearing about a tradition the group had done for years. They called it The Fiber Salad Gathering. I wanted to experience this event and asked if we could schedule it. On February 20, 2020, over 20 of us joined together to make Fiber Salad. At the time, we didn’t know this was going to be our second-to-last meeting before the pandemic shut everything down. At the time, I didn’t know how much I would treasure spinning and knitting the Fiber Salad I took home that day.

Making the fiber salad Each spinner brought leftover fiber or old braids to contribute to the Fiber Salad. The only criteria we set was that the fiber had to be clean and all natural. That made every color and every stray bit fair game. We weighed our contributions and then proceeded to separate the fibers into small, bite-size pieces. We made a circle and stood over a bedsheet that covered the floor. There, we shredded and separated all of our fiber and made a huge mountain of fiber.

Once in a while we would toss the mountain to mix in the newly shredded pieces.

It was beautiful and I couldn’t resist. I lay down in the mountain to feel the full experience of all that fiber at once. Peg poured more over me. The room was full of laughter and glee.

After we tossed the mountain of fiber thoroughly, we each gathered the weight of mixed salad that matched the weight of our initial contribution. Some of us ran our fiber salad through the picker.

Some of us ran it through the drum carder.

It was a fine day. It was an important day. It was a day that we all love remembering.

Spinning the fiber salad

At home, I couldn’t wait to start to spin my fiber salad. I had run my 2 ounces through the picker at the meeting, so I decided to spin handfuls straight from these random and chunky clouds.

It was not a smooth or easy spin as many of the fibers were different in length and texture. But it was exciting. As the pandemic locked the world down around me, I focused on enjoying the spin. I loved it when I came to some of the magenta roving that Ann had contributed. I thought of her and her sweet face. Then came some Gotland locks from Joanne which reminded me of her and her flock. And the beautiful blue/turquoise Merino that Cheryl had contributed popped against Janis’s white alpaca. I spun the salad into a random, artsy single. Then I plied the colorful with some beautiful rose grey alpaca.

A gauge-forgiving pair of ribbed fingerless gloves were the perfect accessory to make with my new yarn.

We haven’t met as a full group in over a year. I miss those women. I miss our gatherings. But I’m comforted by my Fiber Salad fingerless gloves and the memory of our Fiber Salad Gathering.

Lisa Mitchell raises guanacos and other luxury fiber animals on Whidbey Island in Washington. She spins, knits and writes essays about the connections between fiber, life and love on her blog at www.afiberlife.com.

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.

Lofty Yarn Spun from Finger-Opened Locks

words and photos by Donna Kay

I love preparing fiber – whether it is handcombing lustrous locks or carding puffy rolags. But sometimes we forget about the oldest tools of all: our hands. Consider getting “back to the sheep” and spinning hand-prepared (literally) locks into a rustic lofty yarn. It is a fitting and extremely satisfying method of preparing and spinning a primitive-type fleece. There’s something special about the way the individual character of the two coats can be highlighted in one yarn.

Choosing a fleece

Dual-coated sheep produce fleeces with amazing variation in character and color. Breeds I have had the pleasure to work with include Icelandic, Shetland, and Norwegian Spelsau, and each has something wonderful to offer. When choosing a fleece to spin from the lock, I consider the qualities I want for my project. Locks with more undercoat than outercoat spin up into a soft, lofty yarn. Locks with dominant or long outercoat produce a thinner and denser yarn.

Spinning from the lock also allows for random or controlled color placement. I can choose a solid color or a variation since the inner and outer coats are often different. For an article of clothing, I look for open, VM-free locks with dense, fluffy undercoat and relatively silky and flexible outercoat. Fleeces with a coarse outercoat are wonderful but better used for rugs and other hardwearing pieces. (Note: the longest and coarsest outercoat fibers can easily be removed when preparing the locks for spinning.)

Primitive sheep exhibit wide variations of length and diameter within the fleece, so I sort the fleece into sections of similar locks to achieve a consistent yarn. The sides and shoulder will often be the closest in length and diameter and often the softest outercoat. The neck, back, and britch areas tend to be shorter and/or coarser and are set aside for other uses. Locks with excess sun damage, scurf, kemp and imbedded VM are discarded.


A freshly shorn fleece can be prepared and spun in the grease. Locks from a fleece that has been stored unwashed will not open as easily and the drafting will be uneven. To prepare a low-grease fleece, I often use a cold water soak to remove the dirt and suint. Dual-coated fleeces wash easily and often require only one wash. I am careful not to use too much detergent or the fiber can feel harsh and dried out. Locks are placed in plastic mesh baskets, maintaining lock formation, and then washed and rinsed in hot water. Felting happens easily with primitive fleeces, so keep handling to a minimum.

I use my fingers to open up the cut ends of the locks and remove any loose or felted bits. These can resemble second cuts but usually are the immature beginning of the next year’s fleece if the shearing took place after the coats natural rise in the spring. For smoother, consistent yarns, I keep the lock formation intact, leaving the tip as is. Another option is to open the locks completely into a cloud of fibers.


My Majacraft Suzie is put to good use for spinning this yarn. It is equipped with a delta orifice, a large open ceramic hook, and scotch tension. There is nothing for errant tails to get snagged on, and the scotch tension allows me to quickly adjust the take up so the yarn winds on smoothly. For yarns with a soft twist, I want 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 twists per inch with a twist angle between 10 and 20 degrees. For the yarns shown in the photos, I used a of 4.5:1 ratio with a light take up. A rhythm of drafting 1x per treadle gave me the amount of twist I wanted. The low angle of twist ensures that the finished yarns will be light but strong thanks to the longer outercoat fibers acting like glue holding everything together. These worsted to bulky weight yarns contain a good mix of both outercoat and undercoat.

To spin from the lock I hold a small handful lightly in my fiber hand and draft from the cut end using a backwards woolen draft. I pinch the end of the twist with my forward hand as I draft back half the length of the undercoat with my fiber hand. My fingers open, releasing the twist to capture the newly drafted fibers. When a small amount of undercoat remains in my hand, I add a new supply of locks, joining undercoat to undercoat so as to maintain the mix of fibers and diameter. This method affords me some control and consistency, but these yarns certainly display individual character! For the smoothest yarn I draft both coats together as evenly as possible. If I want texture in the form of “tails” I concentrate on drafting the undercoat, allowing the outercoat to slip through my fingers and wrap around the outside of the drafted fibers. It is important to relax and let go, allowing the lumps and bumps to enter the yarn. If at any point drafting becomes difficult, I make sure I am not holding the fiber too firmly.

When spinning from the cloud, it is a little harder to maintain consistency. I use a short backward or a supported long draw. Holding a good-sized handful of fiber gives me the best results. The yarn has a lot of variation in size and texture and works well for a rustic knit item or as weft in a woven piece.

A worsted draft creates a denser yarn because the fibers are smoothed and compressed as they are drafted. It seems counterintuitive, but this draft actually accentuates the lumps, creating a noticeably thick and thin yarn that has a firmer hand. I usually do not use this draft unless it is to be used as warp yarn.

After spinning a few locks, I stop and create a plyback sample by pulling a length of yarn off the side of the bobbin and letting it ply back on itself. Am I happy with the diameter and amount of twist? If so, I spin enough to make a small sample of my intended yarn whether single or plied and finish it before evaluating. Do I want to change something? My options include tweaking my drafting method, the ratio of the wheel or the amount of fiber I have in my hand.


I soak the skeins with a small amount of detergent in warm water, gently squeeze out the water, “whuz” it, and lay it flat to dry. I prefer not to agitate, use hot/cold rinses, or “thwack” since these methods diminish the loft of the undercoat. As the final step, I use steam to set the twist and stabilize the yarn. These yarns transform when washed! Held in place by the outercoat with a low amount of twist, the disorganized crimp of the undercoat has room to bloom, creating a contrast to the smoother outercoat. The finished diameter of the yarn will vary from fleece to fleece depending on the percentage of undercoat vs. outercoat in the locks. Yarns with a higher percentage of undercoat will be thicker with more loft.

The white yarn contains a larger percent of undercoat that bloomed and shortened as the yarn dried.

The long outercoat of the natural-colored locks was spun into a low-twist singles yarn that showcased the color variations. As the amount of outercoat increases, the denser the yarn will be. Yarns spun from the lock are individual and are a true reflection of these unique fleeces!

Donna Kay is a knitter, spinner, designer, instructor, and shepherd, often all in the same day. Her home is a farm in New Hampshire that she shares with her husband and an assortment of livestock. She spins as much as she can, teaches here and there, and designs for her company, Tree of Life Designs. You can find her on Ravelry as treeoflife.

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.

Book Review: The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook

reviewed by Sukrita Mahon

If you have been spinning for any length of time, you have probably heard of The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Carol Ekarius and Deborah Robson or maybe own it yourself. If not, you probably should – it’s a collection of over 200 varieties of fibre from around the world, methodically catalogued. Each fibre is spun, usually using different preparations, and its characteristics explained: how it spins up, how it takes dye, what it’s best used for. There is so much diversity in types, textures, and how they all behave that each could be an in-depth study on its own.

As a spinner, breed studies truly excite me because it’s such a tactile experience and so different every time. It’s hard to articulate certain aspects because fibres can have seemingly conflicting characteristics, like shiny and silk-like yet coarse; poufy and springy but also rope-like if spun a certain way. Because of this, I am always looking to explore breeds that are new to me and even spin the same one a lot to become more familiar with it.

When other people find out that you spin, it’s quite common to be offered bags of raw fleece; I tend to decline most alpaca but love to receive wool. Although alpaca is much more common in my area, it tends to be dustier and more difficult to work with when it’s full of second cuts, for example. For some reason I find that I don’t mind doing some extra work to salvage wool because it usually comes out well after a good scour. So when I was given a mystery bag of wool from a local farm, I sought the help of this book to identify the sheep breed. I won’t lie, there are probably easier ways of identifying wool – like going to the source and finding out or asking someone who is more experienced – but this was a nice challenge that gave me an excuse to flip through a beautiful book. How could I resist? The book could also be helpful if you have a bad memory for breed names or just forget to label your wool.

Right out of the bag, my mystery wool was yellowed, fluffy, and full of second cuts that were quite careless, so it was likely the sheep weren’t reared for their wool. To go about identifying it, I tried to answer specific questions: Does it feel more hairy or woolly? Is it soft, coarse, or somewhere in-between? Is it greasy/does it seem to have a lot of lanolin content? Is there a noticeable or visible crimp in the fibre? What do the tips look like? This isn’t a complete list but should give you enough to start searching.

In my case, the wool felt springy, not at all like hair, and perhaps downy, although I was a little vague on what that term meant. It wasn’t especially coarse, but not soft. I didn’t think it had the kind of greasiness of Merino or even some Corriedale. It had no visible crimp, and the ends were, for lack of a better word, sort of tippy. This is in contrast to, say, Corriedale which often has blunt tips, or Border Leicester, which has more pronounced tips.

Starting in the Down section of the book, I could immediately see a resemblance. Even the more crimpy down breeds had a similar kind of ‘feel’ to this wool. It helped a lot that the photos are so clear and detailed, with multiple samples. Here it’s evident that Cheviot has more crimp and tippiness compared to my wool.

The Suffolk seemed to be a good match because it had the same kind of reddish brown tint in the raw sample, which I initially thought was feces. One of the samples pictured in the book shows much more crimp, and the other has barely any. After scouring they come out bright white, with a bit of tippiness remaining, which is what I found for my wool as well.

The other breed that came close in similarity was Texel. The colour of the raw wool is slightly different, but the textures and finished wool are so similar that it could easily have been this breed.

I suspected it wasn’t Texel because Suffolk is much more common in this area, in addition to the odd red tinge that none of the other raw samples seemed to have. Both Suffolk and Texel are primarily bred for their meat, so the wool is often discarded. According to the book, though, where handspinners are concerned, there are no disadvantages and both make excellent, warm yarn and garments.

Fortunately, I was able to get in touch with the person who gave me the wool to ask if they knew what breed it came from. They confirmed it was Suffolk, and you can imagine how excited I was to hear that. I also learned that the sheep were named Lamb and Chop, which is apparently a common set of names for sheep in Australia.

Needless to say, I think all spinners should have access to this book; it’s such a treasure. The only negative I have to say about it is that it’s not a complete catalogue of all the sheep breeds on the planet; it’s mainly focused on the ones known in the Americas, Europe, and Australia, so if you live in Asia or Africa, it may not be as helpful. I do hold out hope that we will get more editions in the future as interest in handspinning and sustainable farming grows.


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.

Mood: Summer 2022 – The Mix Issue

Mix Moodboard (Summer 2022)
Much of the time we’re happy spinning along doing our regular thing, but sometimes we just want to mix it up! What about you? What do you like to mix up in your spinning?
Do you mix fiber, preparation, draft, color, types of yarn, or types of crafts? If you do, we want to hear about it. Do you mix woolen and worsted in your spinning? Between preparation and draft? What about mixing woolen and worsted plies? Why would you do it? How does it look and feel? What do you make with it?
What are your favorite fiber blends and do you have special ways of spinning them? Do you make your own blends? What process do you use to create a new or unique blend? Do some breeds mix better than others? How do you sample your blends? How do you keep track? Are there fiber-mixing tools you use that you can’t do without?
Have you experimented with mixing twist direction in singles or ply? What did you find out? What effect does reversing direction have on yarn and cloth? What about mixing dye to create unique colors in dyes? How do you plan? How do you keep track?
Do you have tips on dyeing blends that are mixtures of animal, plant, or synthetic? Have you mixed natural and chemical dyes in a single yarn? What was the result? Do you mix fibers or colors at the wheel? How does it look? Why do you choose this method over carding or combing? Are you a shepherd? How do you choose which breeds to mix for your flock? What has been your greatest success? Do you know the history of a now-favorite breed that started as a mix of 2 classic breeds?
We’re looking for patterns that mix it up, too: weaving with some knitting, or knitting with some crochet, or adding layers of handspun as embellishments. Anything that mixes this and that, we want to hear about it!
If you can help answer any of these questions or have a good idea for an article, please let us know! If you’ve got an idea for a fantastic project, let us know that too! Whether it’s your first time proposing an article or your 100th, we want to hear from you!
Submit your ideas here
Proposals of articles and projects are due by June 1, 2021. We’ll get back to you in July, and final pieces are due December 1, 2021.

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.

Ask Jacey #2: Margo is too twisted

This month, Margo asks, “How do you control overtwisting and setting the take up on a scotch tension?”

Well, Margo, this is a super common question. Overtwisting is something that happens to everyone, both in the beginning, the middle, and well into our spinning careers. Honestly, every time I switch to an unfamiliar spinning implement or fiber, I overtwist (if I don’t undertwist; point is, I rarely hit the right level of twist immediately). So let’s talk about it.

One of the most popular ways to decrease twist is to adjust your scotch tension to pull in the yarn quicker and with more force; in other words, want less twist, turn up that tension!

And that will work, but – I don’t suggest it be the first thing you do. You see, it’s my experience that many spinners use too much tension already. Once you turn up your tension enough that you have to grip your yarn to keep it from flying onto your wheel, you’ve lost control. You can no longer spin the yarn you want to spin and you’re going to have crampy fingers to boot. There is a huge spectrum of uptakes that are possible, from zilch all the way to oh my, are my knuckles usually that pale? However, the workable range of uptakes is so much smaller than the possible range.

The workable range ranges from zilch to oh, I think I can feel it…oh wait no…oh yeah there it is. If your wheel is pulling on your yarn, you’re using too much uptake. If your forward hand is cramping, you’re using too much uptake. If your scotch tension spring is sprung, you’re using too much uptake. If you think you might be using too much uptake, you’re using too much uptake. If you’re reading this, you’re using too much uptake. Okay, not really, but if you can use less and still have the yarn you’re spinning slide gracefully into the orifice, give it a try. If you are using too much, decreasing it will give you a more comfortable spin (once you get used to it) and you will gain more control over your fiber and drafting.

How do you figure out the right tension? My advice is to set yourself up to spin your yarn with your scotch tension totally loose and light, so light that it doesn’t pull in your yarn AT ALL. Now slowly increase the tension until it barely starts to move toward the orifice. Now just a bit more so your wheel takes exactly the yarn you spin but doesn’t try to make you give more than you’ve already spun. Yes, your wheel should accept but not take. That’s the best tension for that yarn. When you change the grist of the yarn you’re spinning, your tension will need adjustment too. For instance, if you decide to spin a thicker yarn, you’ll need more uptake. That’s because a thicker yarn is heftier and the wheel needs to pull harder to accept it. However, it shouldn’t feel harder to you and your drafting hands; it should feel the same to you. The opposite is true if you go to spin a thinner yarn, it’s lighter and the wheel needs to work less hard to pull that thin little strand in, so decreasing the uptake should feel the same to your hands (notice if you left it the same, the wheel is now pulling the yarn from you instead of just accepting it).

Now that you’ve got your tension adjusted and I’ve probably scared you away from cranking your uptake way up, this is how increasing uptake can work to decrease twist in your yarn (which is what you asked about, Margo). It works like this – the longer your yarn hangs about in front of your orifice, the more chances it has to pick up twist, much like the longer a teenager hangs about in front of a convenient store, the more chances said teenager has of picking up something even less desirable than too-much-twist. Same same. The quicker your yarn zips through and onto your bobbin, the less twisted it will be.

But before you do that, try these things first! Choose a big pulley (this is often called a whorl). The bigger you choose, the less twist each treadle will put in your yarn. The next thing I’ll suggest is likely the easiest to describe and hardest to do. As spinners, heck, as humans, we have this thing called muscle memory. It’s both a blessing and a curse. It makes better spinners out of us, allowing us to just sit and spin without having to remember how to draft or think about our treadling. The drawback is when we want to change what our muscles have memorized, they sometimes sneak back into doing what they remember. Judith MacKenzie calls it our lizard brain. Our lizard brain dupes and double crosses us. However, if you can manage it, and I know you can, adjusting your body is a powerful tool on the journey to creating the yarn you want. If you want less twist in your yarn there are two things your body can do: slow down your feet or speed up your hands. You can do either or both in varying degrees. Of course, in adjusting your body, you will only gather less twist if you keep the diameter of your yarn the same. If you let your lizard brain lead you, your yarn will likely get a bit thicker because a spinner’s lizard brain knows that a thicker yarn requires less twist and so that’s what a lizard brain wants to make. But if you keep your yarn the same diameter as before you slowed your feet/sped your hands, you won’t be able to help but to get less twist.

Of course, you don’t have to choose just one or the other. Choose them all! Yep, you can cast off your lizard brain, replace it with a gear-head and pick a pulley the size of Australia, grow sloth feet and demon hands, and spin a yarn that would make a pencil roving blush.

And if that doesn’t work, you can increase your tension/uptake – but just a bit.

Here’s a video of Jacey demonstrating and rambling.

Do you have a question you’d like to ask Jacey? Fill out the form and maybe your question will be the one Jacey answers next!

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.