Storage Bobbins for Spinning


I am a huge fan of using storage bobbins and a bobbin winder for spinning.

I use them because they are cheaper than buying more bobbins for my wheel. I rarely spin one project from start to finish without starting something else, so I store bunches of yarn.

Storage bobbins also help me work with color, to mix and match and just play with color in my spinning. 

I use small stickers on the ends of the bobbins or loop tags around the bobbins to keep track of the yarn on them. I usually use both.

Last week I wrote a blog post about how using storage bobbins makes my yarn better on the Schacht blog.


skewer 5.jpg

I also use cardboard spools when I want to store more yardage on a single bobbin. Spools won't fit on my bobbin winder, so I use cooking skewers. 

I bundle the skewers together with a rubber band and use an electric drill to wind them.

It's very easy to keep track of what's on a spool because I can write right on the end.

Do you use storage bobbins?


Making Magazine No. 5/Color

Color_Front_Cover_making color.jpg

Making Magazine has been around for three years now and it has defied the odds. It is a magazine that is consistently well-produced and beautiful, it is a print-only magazine and it welcomes and showcases a variety of fiber, thread and yarn crafts.

It's a magazine I read occasionally because it's not always in my budget. It is worth every penny of the $24 cover price. I find it more inspiring and it gets my fingers itching to craft more than a lot of books that are the same price. 

No. 5 is an exceptional issue. The topic is Color and the projects are marvelous. It's been a long time since I've wanted to make every project in a magazine.


making collage.jpg

Making invites you to slow down, to settle in with the magazine. I can never rush through. Partly because of the luscious paper it's printed on, I just like holding it and feeling the pages. Partly because the projects and photography encourage a little dreaming.

This issue has natural dyeing, knitting, quilting, crochet, embroidery, weaving, sewing, book binding, and that clever little rabbit of a craft that keeps inviting me down it's rabbit hole, rug hooking on a small scale. The hooking article is about finishing, not hooking, hooking is in No. 4/Lines. There are more crafts and projects, a total of 29 things to do with your hands. It is a grand issue and one that will last me through the summer with making or just dreaming about making.

If you like to listen the folks talking bout the creative side of life, there is a very fine Making podcast with interviews. 

Spinning with Thread

I've recently had a few questions about thread plying, spinning Racing Stripes and Auto Wrapping. Here's a quick spin through these fun spinning-with-thread yarns.

Using thread is one of my favorite ways to give a yarn, especially a yarn spun from a textured batt a little sparkle and a little stability.

1 fiber edit.jpg

I have this fab bag of Mega Batts from Gritty Knits that I got at the Dallas Fort Worth Fiber Fest. Each tiny batt is different and has a big variety of fibers and colors.

I'm paring these batts with a silver sparkly sewing thread. I use every one of my JoAnn's coupons for buying extra shiny and sparkly threads at a discount.

I'll spin a thread plied yarn, a Racing Stripe singles and an Auto Wrap singles. Racing Stripe and Auto Wrap I learned from Jacey Faulkner's fab book, Spin Art.

3 ply collage.jpg


Thread plying is just like it sounds. I make a 2-ply using a batt spun single and my sparkly thread. I use a cracked Jennie the Potter mug to hold my thread so it doesn't fly around the room, and ply like a regular 2-ply. Putting a little extra tension on the thread will squeeze the singles for extra texture.

6 racing stripe collage.jpg

Spinning a Racing Stripe, takes a bit of letting go of control. I put my thread cup between my feet, so the thread and fiber come from the same direction.

I let the thread rest in my palm as I go about my drafting business; I don't worry about it.

What happens is the thread wraps as the fiber drafts into yarn. It makes a singles that look marled with thread.

4 autowrap collage.jpg

Auto wrapping is the most fun ands give the most random look. I set my thread cup to the fiber side of my wheel.

As I draft my fiber I let the thread wrap on the singles however it wants. I don't hold it or tension it in any way. Sometimes it wraps on cleanly, sometimes it snarls around itself. It looks good as a singles, but I may like it even better plied on itself.

How do you spin with thread?

 Left to right: Thread ply, Racing Stripe, Auto Wrap and Auto Wrap plied on itself.

Left to right: Thread ply, Racing Stripe, Auto Wrap and Auto Wrap plied on itself.

A Spinning Tip for Getting to Know Your Commercial Fiber

crimp fiber .jpg

Here's something I like to do to get to know my commercial top a little better before spinning it.

I do this if I get something called 'wool', or if a fiber is listed as a particular breed and I think it's a mistake, or if I've lost the label (most likely), or just for fun (also likely).

Like smelling salts to a swooning Victorian maiden, I steam my fiber to revive it. A little steam revives the crimp in fiber.

Sometimes I steam just a little to see what the crimp is like without the combing. Sometimes I steam all of the fiber I plan to spin, if I really want my yarn to be airy.

crimp post collage.jpg

Here's some Corriedale (left) Southdown (right), in each photo the fiber strip on the left is top before steaming and the fiber on the right is the same top steamed.

My hair did the same thing in Dallas last month.

HUGE difference, and quite a peek into what the fiber is really like. 

The Corriedale snaps to it's famous medium crimp, zig zaggy with some spring and loft. The Southdown went sproing like in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, the crimp spiraled and it feels spongy and dense.

These steamed fibers would make for different spinning experiences and a different yarn than they would when they were still neatly combed top. It's fun to compare.

If I was going to steam ounces of fiber at a time, I would use a handheld steamer or a steamer basket on the stove (be careful of felting). For small samples like these I use my electric kettle. Here's quick video where you can see the crimp bloom.

Dallas Fort Worth Fiber Fest - All the Spinners!

I had the best time at the Dallas Fort Worth Fiber Fest! It was crazy-well organized, they treat their teachers wonderfully, the marketplace is fantastic, but it's the people that make it so much fun!

waving collage.jpg

Look at these spinners! They were so clever, willing to work out of their comfort zones, quick with the questions, happy and fun. We all learned a lot over the weekend.


no braids collage.jpg


I need to poke a little fun at these spinners because I said I would. Behold! Spinners that have none or 'just a couple' of hand dyed braids in their stashes. Tragic, really. I believe they may have shopped for some in the market.


knitting and weaving goodness collage.jpg


As  I wandered between and after classes, I was so impressed by the skill on display. Everywhere I looked there was beautiful spinning, knitting and weaving. I spent a fair amount of time touching strangers and talking about their work.


color and grist collage.jpg

There was time to spend with my teacher-friends here, too. I managed to squeeze in time with John Mullarkey and Franklin Habit (who gave a great talk on creativity). Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's and my hair got into the spirit of Texas and became very large in the humidity. We attempted to tame it by drinking beer and talking about the books we're reading, it was a scientific experiment.


louet s10.jpg


I have began to lust after what I think may be my next wheel. I spun on a few Louets in my classes and in the market. I don't need another wheel, but when one starts singing a sweet song to me, it's hard to ignore. 

A huge thank you to all of my students and the volunteers at the DFWFF!

A special thank you to Debi and Emily who made sure I was always in the right place at the right time. Debi, how's that Hansen Pro?

My Linen Apron - Questions Answered

apron cropped.jpg

This year I started wearing an apron when I teach. It slips over my head and has four massive pockets for tools, samples, my tea thermos and whatnot. It's made of midweight linen.

I have never had so many questions about a garment of clothing before.

Mostly, "Where did you get that". Here are all of the details about my apron. 

I bought mine at an Etsy shop called Not Perfect Linen. The one I have is called : Linen pinafore apron / square cross linen apron / japanese style apron. Washed long linen apron

There are three sizes Petite (xxs,xs,s), Regular (s-m, m, l) and Extra Large (xl-xxl). I have the extra large size. I might shorten it. I'm 5' 3". They will do custom sizing. It might take longer.

It comes in elevenity-billion colors (really 35). Mine is Moss Green. Yes, I want another one. I'm thinking Teal or Grey. I just noticed there are two that are made from a linen-wool blend (squee).

I want to embroider all over mine, but haven't started. I should do a little each time I teach, using yarn made in class. 

Not Perfect Linen has many things that are not aprons. Please don't send me your bill. They are on Instagram. They are busy, but worth the wait. I ordered an apron gift while I was at Ply Away and it just shipped.

Tell me what you buy and what color!

baby apron.JPG

For those of you who thought I was telling tales when I said this apron reminds me of the aprons I've seen sometimes used to evacuate babies in emergencies......


Ply Away 3: All the People and Fun Times!

Every year PLY Away is more fun! Here's a quickie recap from my corner of Ply Away.

PA people collage.jpg

There are always so many happy people, and this year brought me some surprises.

My Ply Away kicked off with a dinner with friends Greg Cotton, Janine Bajus nad Marilyn Van Keppel. We never stopped talking and opinionating.

Thanks to John Mularkey I made a new friend, Michael. He is a newish spinner, a talented fiber artist and photographer.

My biggest surprise was finding Donna. She used to be Donna Muller. She is a weaving hero of mine, and I was obsessed with her book Handwoven Laces. I've had the tickle to to weave and had been looking for her. Finding her at Ply Away was one of those signs that I can't ignore.

The Knitgirlls were both at Ply Away taking classes. I was lucky enough to have cake and celebrate Laura's birthday. There were no canoes involved.

I got to meet Alan and Sasha of DM Fibers in person. They are the wonderful people who bought the fiber part of the business from Louet. We also had a big winner of a Louet wheel in one of my classes.

PA classes collage.jpg

My classes were a crazy blur of fiber, laughing and a lot of spinning. 

My favorite thing to hear in my classes, besides laughing, is that exclamation when something clicks or something excites a spinner. 

I had new spinners trying all kinds of new-to-them techniques. I had experienced spinners planning and plotting ways to make yarns for projects.

Probably my favorite thing was the ever widening smile on the face of the woman who was back to spinning after a decade. 

I thought I'd throw in some photographic evidence of my spinning and cheese class. It is not a myth! See the woman in the background? That's Christie, she is one of the reasons Ply Away runs so smoothly!

PA teachers collage.jpg

I spent more time this year with other teachers. So many have become friends and we tend to only see each other at events. Usually in my breaks between teaching I head to my room to recharge. This year, I had extra tea and hung out with my teaching friends.

Jacey and Levi  host a teacher dinner that is always loud and delicious. 

This year Stephenie Gaustad and many others spoke and celebrated the life of Alden Amos. It was a touching tribute to a man who loomed large in the fiber world for so many years.

Jacey and I spirited away Maggie Casey, Judith MacKenzie, Deb Robson and Stephenie Gaustad to a photography studio to capture some pieces of an as yet unnamed project.

My fondest memory this year were the meals I shared with Judith and Maggie, talking books and listening to their thoughts on weaving.

My one regret this year is that I somehow had almost no time in the marketplace. Next year I'll do better.

Speaking of next year, the dates are set! Ply Away 4 will be April 9-13, 2019. All of the details, including teacher proposals and vendor applications are on the the Ply Away website.