Spinning and not doing what you’re told.


If you’ve spun for years you will be very familiar with spinning thinly as the go to method when you want to zone out, watch TV or generally spin without thinking.  And although everyone will say this to you as a beginner, once you reach the Holy Grail of fine yarn it is very difficult to go back to spinning a thicker yarn consistently.

It can be easy to get stuck in a spinning rut.  We find our comfort zone, our favourite fibre, drafting technique, wheel and we just stay right there.  We’re not alone in this regard.  How often have you seen on the Great British Bake Off, Sewing Bee, X Factor, people who are excellent at one area of their craft only to fail miserably when asked to bake bread instead of cake, sew on silk or sing a song which is wildly outside their comfort zone.

This is the reason why I dither over whether to attempt the Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Certificate of Achievement.  Participants are tasked with preparing, carding and spinning various breeds fleeces, creating a portfolio of examples which show your creativity and detailed records.  This would certainly push any spinner out of their comfort zone with an organised plan and a deadline to meet – although there is plenty of time to accomplish the whole thing.  It’s that commitment that holds me back.  I can’t be sure I would see it through.

So with that in mind, I bought Jill Moreno’s book Yarnitecture – A Knitters Guide to Spinning: Building Exactly the Yarn You Want.  It’s a fantastic book and I would wholeheartedly recommend it.  She goes through the building of a yarn as an architect would a house, creating it from the ground up, helping you to think outside your little comfort zone and get the best out of your spinning.

So I was inspired to try something new and began with Drafting against Type.  I decided to take some top and spin it woollen and see what happened.  Woollen spinning has always been a mystery to me and having been told that you cannot spin woollen if it’s top ( and even if you could it wouldn’t be right) I didn’t really attempt it.  Why didn’t I?  Well Jill said you can and so I did.


It’s not perfect by any means but I very much enjoyed spinning with a different technique.  It’s strange because when I’ve attempted spinning woollen before I’ve given up because 1) people told me it was hard 2) because I tend to spin with top and people told me it wasn’t possible or worth it.

What a lesson learned.  I need to not take everything people tell me as gospel and also be careful what I say to other spinners, I could be putting them off techniques that they will love.




This is the top spun woollen and I hope you can see it’s slightly fuzzy, with the fibres showing more.  This would produce a lofty yarn, with air trapped within the fibres making it a warmer garment once knit.


This is the top spun worsted, you can see the stitch definition is clear and there aren’t as many fibres floating around.  The resulting knit would be more compact.

So I’m going to push my boundaries a little and see what happens. Its gone well so far.




New Niddy Noddies

I posted some time back about Jim who is the genius behind the Niddy Noddies that I stock, I won’t go into lots of details but that again only to say that his attention to detail is perhaps even more now than before.  Nothing, nothing I tell you goes unchecked.

He stopped making for a little while as he was redoing his kitchen and rightly so domestic matters came first but now he is back on top form and I collected nine new designs just yesterday.

There is so much thought behind how these are made.  Here’s just a little insight into what Jim thinks about before setting to work.

1) The distribution of weight.  So the handles are thick – that’s where the weight is so that when you move your arm back and forth it won’t ache as quickly.  If you look at other Niddy Noddies, they are top and bottom heavy.  That will impact on your arm

2) The middle is thick enough so your nails won’t dig into your palm.

3). The top is tapered so the wool can slide off but also slanted for a smooth slide.

4) The is a little bit of decoration or interest on each one but never where your hand will go and no grooves so dust or grime won’t get in there and on your wool.

5) The top and bottom of the Niddy Noddy can be removed but will fit back snuggly but not overly tight.  The wood is smoothed into a clockwise direction so it slides easily.

6) They’re very light so that if you’re winding laceweight your arm won’t get tired as quickly.

They are wonderful, I have one of Jims Niddy Noddies and I also have a leading manufacturers which I take and let my students compare the weight of, there’s no comparison, Jims win every time.

So my Niddy Noddies might be a little bit more expensive than others but your certainly get what you pay for. I hope you love yours as much as I do


Lydia Flower Pattern

When we first started out spinning and writing patterns and kits – nearly seven years ago now, one of the first to appear on Knit on the Net, the online knitting magazine fun by Susan Crawford was this one, the Lydia Flower.

The pattern ended up on my ravelry page as a free download and it was really popular – downloaded hundreds of times and we received lots of lovely comments of thanks from fellow ravelry friends.

But then someone got in touch and I realised I’d made an error in the writing. It was a tiny error, the missing of an asterisk but it would have thrown a new knitter and I felt so bad that I removed it.

Anyway, the lovely Frances from weavingwillow.blogspot.ca left a comment asking for it, so here it is all correct and no mistakes.  I really hope you enjoy knitting it Frances and anyone else who fancies having a go, it’s very easy (even I can knit it!)

  So get knitting and stick your flowers on hats, wear them as brooches, place them on your slippers! If you do, please send me a photo and let me see them.


Bits and Batts

Teaching spinning is a wonderful thing, you get to meet people with a like mind, some wild some wacky, some who will go on to become good friends.
All who begin spinning by leaving little bits on the floor.

Many ladies who spin will be troubled by the wasted fibre, they want to bundle it up and take it home and……well, they don’t know what. So they like to be assured that it will not go to waste. And it doesn’t!

I spent Tuesday afternoon with Heather, The Inquisitive Weaver, her drum carder and blending board. What a wonderful way to use up lots of fibres that could have ended up discarded.


Yep. Bags and bags if fibre just waiting to be loved.



First it was putting colours together and at first we played it safe, using tonal shades that worked together well but soon we were flinging everything in there, experimenting like mad

We ended up with a collection of shades that are destined to be woven.


My own favourite is this, my hand dyed Eliza fibre, carded together with Angelina fibres and Banana fibre, I’m so looking forward to seeing this woven.

The day was finished off at the Knit Wise Knit n Natter where there were knitters, crocheters, spinners and Heather with her teaching loom. Between tea time and 9pm, she wove enough cloth to make this little dog scarf, so imagine what can be done in a day!


Remember that it’s the 1st Spin In on Saturday at 96 Grimshaw Lane, Ormskirk, Lancs, L39 1PE. 1pm till 4pm. Bring your wheel and spin together for a couple of hours. Tea and coffee and cake for our local artisan baker. £4. Looking forward to seeing (anyone to be honest – it is Wonderwool after all!)

Inaugral Intermediate Spinning and Yarndale


Well the first Intermediate Spinning class I’ve done seemed to go very well! Embarking on a new workshop always brings a couple of sleepless nights while I work through my lesson plan. I like to know exactly what I’m going to do so that I can veer off topic for a while but always, always get back to where I want to be, if that makes any sense at all.

The ladies, as usual were wonderful and worked hard all day. We covered balanced spinning, balanced plying, Navajo plying and general troubleshooting. There was a range of ability from Gemma, who was coming along from the Beginners class to Linda who has spun on and off for about a decade.

We muddled along nicely and at the end there was talk of starting a regular group, which would be amazing


Myself, I’ve been spinning for Yarndale, yes, I’ll be there for my second year, this time as part of a co-operative of spinners weavers and knitters. We’d like to show the connection between these wonderful crafts to encourage all to have a go and keep them alive.

20140327-134643.jpg                                     Imagine using your own handspun for this!

We’re very excited about this venture so the next few months will be full of plans and experiments to make the vision come true. Very exciting!

So I’ll be back next week, in the meantime I’ll leave you with this picture take in a garden centre in Leyland, Lancashire. A boy, or a man? What do you think?


Spinning thinly drives woman to drink!

Spinning as thinly as possible is every beginners goal and what Joy when you finally get to the stage where a hairs breadth of fibre slips through your fingers and yarn that appears to have been spun by angels is in your grasp.

Spinning this thinly then becomes a default setting. You can spin and talk, spin and watch the television, spin and cook the tea. Almost.

So I embarked on a huge project to spin this nimbus fibre as thinly as possible and then Navajo ply it in order to weave it.


I’ve been spinning for weeks, I tell you hours and hours days and days of the same fibre. Granted, I can do other things, but it’s amazing how spinning the same colour can eventually begin to wear you down. I have no idea why this is, we’re doing the same task but a change of colour perks us up no end. Any suggestions why?



Added to this, I chose to Navajo ply using an ordinary Lazykate. Despite the fact that I have a tensioned Kate, well, just up the stairs. The problem with plying such thin fibre is that it spins back into the bobbin on the Kate, meaning that you have to keep unwinding every so often. This can happen to when your skein ing the yarn onto the Niddy Noddy. It’s infuriating.


So last night, I called it a day. I’m pleased with what I’ve spun, there is a fair amount of yardage on there. The Navajo/chain ply has kept the striping there and the colours true which is what I was after so I’m happy. But I’m exstatic that’s it’s over and I can spin something new!


I have an Improving Spinning at Wickerwool at Cedar Farm on Saturday where we’ll cover Navajo plying among other things, if it’s something you’d like to try why not take a look at the course page on my Facebook page and come along and have a go. This class is full but there are more in the near future.