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


First Woven Handspun!

A few posts back I posted photos of handspun yarn I’d spun to use in my first attempt at weaving.


Although I was incredibly excited about starting weaving, I felt overwhelmed with the whole weaving process, it’s a pretty full on skill and I didn’t want to be a butterfly- fluttering around many crafts and not becoming proficient in any.

Also, any spare headspace was taken up with Spinning and Dyeing classes, family and other responsibilities (not necessarily in order of importance).

So when Heather, The Inquisitve Weaver turned up with a beginners loom that looked like this, small, easy with (relatively) instant gratification, I was hooked and booked!


Heather talked me through everything, we warped the loom with the chosen colours, I had no clue what to expect so I was completely in her hands


What is it about just looking at colours that makes your mouth water?!!

After a little while and some basic instruction I was on my way. My finished fabric looked like this


And my scarf looks like this


It still needs washing just to finish it off properly but I couldn’t wait to share. It’s a very simple beginners scarf but I’m incredibly pleased and because I’ve been able to take baby steps into the weaving process, I feel able to take the plunge into a table loom. I can’t recommend it enough.

If you fancy coming and having a look at the Beginners looms, Heather will be at the Spin In this Saturday to demonstrate how it works.

Yew Tree Farm
96 Grimshaw Lane
L39 1PE

1-4pm. £4