Category Archives: Spinzilla

Spinzilla 2017 – it’s a wrap

Spinzilla ended Sunday, October 8th at 11:59:59pm. It ended for me at 10:40pm.

It was a good week of finding ways to fit spinning into my life. I worked all week so had to find time in the morning and evenings to spin. And, when I could, I spun at work. On Tuesday, I had my wheel with me because I was heading to the Team Sweet Georgia spin-in that evening. I brought my wheel into my office and spun a bit during a department conference call – about twenty minutes. Other times, I had my Jenkins Turkish spindle with me and spun during phone calls and over lunch hour.

My plan was to spin the entire bag of “Daisy”. Daisy is a sheep owned by a fellow guild member -1/2 north country Cheviot, 1/4 Suffolk, 1/4 Romney Dorset Karakul. Quite a variety and lovely, lovely wool. Last November, I bought a large bag of Daisy carded up into inviting rovings and had plans to spin it for a sweater. Perfect task for Spinzilla. I really thought that would take my entire week, so I didn’t have much of a back-up plan. Fortunately I have a bit of a stash so when I finished spinning Daisy on Friday evening and plied it up on Saturday morning, I spun up some Clun Forest I bought from my neighbour.

On Sunday evening at 7pm, after plying all the Clun Forest, I still felt like spinning. I had about 7grams of spun fibre on my Turkish spindle so grabbed the bag of that fibre, (Shetland 70%; Silk 30%) and finished spinning all that up while I watched two episodes of Shetland. Fitting isn’t it? It spun quickly due to an excellent fibre prep and silk. And I plied it while I watched Scott and Bailey.

All in all I had 6 bobbins of Daisy, 3 of Clun Forest, 1 Shetland/silk, and small bobbin of Turquiose Perendale/silk I spun at the spin-in after I spun up all the Daisy I bought with me. That all measured out to be 1,683 yards of 2-ply yarn, which translates into 5,049 yards of spinning for Team Sweet Georgia.

I’m happy with this result. I managed to spin a decent amount and I stayed sane. I didn’t stress myself out with trying to spin, spin, spin. I relaxed, went running on my days off. Did errands, and prepared an entire Thanksgiving Dinner.

I’m extra happy because I have all Daisy spun up and enough of it for a sweater – 1,100 yards. The Clun Forest is going to be added to the Clun Forest I spun for the last Spinzilla, dyed and woven into a shawl/blanket.

I love Spinzilla. It forces me to focus exclusively on spinning, and while it is only a week long, that is long enough to get a significant amount of yarn made. I also love it because it brings a community of spinners together, the members of our Team Sweet Georgia, and also other spinners from all around the world spinning for this competition. While there are team prizes for the most spun, and individual prizes for the same, I like to think about the grand total that all the teams are creating. Can we beat the total we reached last year, and if so, by how much?

So that’s ones in the books. What’s next?

(Photo on top is all skeins washed and drying in the Monday sunshine.)

Spinzilla 2017 – day 1

(Photo above is yarn spun for Spinzilla 2016)

Spinzilla – the monster of a spinning contest, started in 2013. Since then it has grown in size in terms of the number of teams participating and the number of miles (kilometres) spun. It is a fun, wild week.

I have participated every year it has been held – spinning for Team Sweet Georgia. Over time I have learned some things that have made my spinning week more pleasurable. And here they are:

  1. Spin for a project: this is a great time to spin up a huge amount of yarn. So if you have been wanting to spin up for a sweater or to weave a blanket, now is the time. This year I am spinning for a sweater I want to knit. It’s in the Down issue of Ply Magazine. It is a good time to get it all done, and to ensure that it’s the same weight and grist.
  2. Add some fun, wild spinning moments into the marathon of project spinning. Last year, I spun for a weaving project. It was grey Romney, yards and yards and yards of it. After a few days of that, I took a break and spun a two-ply thick and thin yarn. It was only 100 yards or so, but it also only took 1 1/2 hours and gave me such joy to be doing something with colour and something different with my fingers.
  3. Spin on days 1 – 5 and ply on day 6 and 7. Or some variation on that theme. I learned that my yarn benefits from sitting a bit. The twist relaxes and this makes plying a bit easier. This means you have to have a lot of bobbins, but it’s a good excuse to get more. Or borrow some from non-Spinzilla spinning friends.
  4. Skein and measure yarn when Spinzilla is over. As curious as I am about how much yarn I’ve made, taking the time to skein and measure is time away from spinning. So unless you desperately need those bobbins, don’t waste time on it. You will have time after the event is over, a couple of days, to skein and measure.
  5. Have fun. Seriously, everyone says it, I say it.  And then I put my head down to my spinning and get all competitive and lose track of things. Feel resentful when I have to work, make dinner or do anything else beyond spinning. It’s taken a few years, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I enjoy this more when I re-focus the competition. For me this is about how much yarn I can make in spite of the busy life I lead as a woman in the twenty-first century working full-time and involved in my community.

So this morning I was up at my regular time – 6am. Got a cup of coffee, took a few sips and then sat down at my Ashford Traditional to spin some lovely wool into a sweater. Just starting the day spinning is the thing that makes this competition worth while.

And now I have to get down to work and move away from the wheel. So enjoy the week, enjoy the attention spinning is going to get this week and the role you will play in drawing attention to the wonderful activity of making yarn.

Happy spinning!

Spinzilla 2016 — 4,661 yards (4,262 metres)

Last week I participated in my fourth Spinzilla event. Spinzilla is a monster of a spinning contest that lasts an entire week. Starting at 12:01am on Monday, October 3 and ending at 11:59pm on October 9, teams of as many as 25 spinners spin like mad and submit their yardage to their team captains. It’s all done on the honour system – anyone who lies about their yardage will be plagued with snapped drive bands and shattered spindles.

Much to my surprise I am a very competitive person about some things – seems that a spinning contest is one of them. So for the first three years of the contest I worked harder and harder to spin as much as possible. Even booking three days off work last year so I could maximize my spinning time. I was rewarded in year 3 with a spinning total of 8,672 yards. That’s nearly 5 miles of spinning.

This year I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take the time from work so my spinning from Monday to Thursday was limited to lunch hour spindling and wheel spinning in the evenings. As I have an early start to my day, I couldn’t stay up late or get up too much earlier to get in some spinning.

So I resigned myself to simply doing my very best with the time I did have, and not to fret about what I couldn’t get done. Here’s the photo story.

I started Spinzilla spinning some lovely grey Romney/Crossbreed fibre that I washed and combed over the summer. My aim is to make a fingering weight yarn for a friend’s weaving project. By Thursday evening I was tired of spinning fine and grey, so I switched it up, grabbed a bag of Mardi Gras by Kinfolk Yarn and Fibre. I took this lovely yarn and spun a two-ply thick and thin yarn. It only took about two hours to do both bobbins. Spinning slubs really chews into the fibre. It wasn’t going to give me a lot of yardage, but it was such a treat to make that yarn and play with colour and texture for a while.  Here’s a photo of what I had spun by Friday morning.

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On Friday I finished spinning all the grey I had prepped and started plying.

On Saturday I pulled out some Clun Forest roving from my neighbour. Talk about 100-mile wear – this yarn is from sheep living one mile away. I spun this woollen — using a long backwards draw. Here’s the first bobbin.

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And I spun for most of Saturday, in between making vegan cabbage rolls, pumpkin pie and apple crumble for Thanksgiving dinner. This is what I had by the end of the day.

On Sunday, I plied all the singles I made. Spun a bit more to finish up a bobbin and plied that in between stuffing and roasting a turkey and getting other items for the meal prepared and eaten!  By 9pm I was done. Really done. Unlike last year where I stayed up right until the last minute wildly plying hyper-energized singles into a three-ply yarn, I was ready to pack up my wheel. And so I did.

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Here’s my total production for the week. Eight skeins of two-ply yarn and two mini-skeins of singles yarn from my spindles for a total of 4,661 yards.

It’s a decent amount of yarn. Yarn that I am very happy with and have plans for. It was a good week.

Spinzilla 2014: Day 4

Here are the results from day 4 of Spinzilla. From bottom to top we have the following:

  • 64 grams and 367 yards of Bluebird Cafe – the second half of the braid that I spun on day 3. Superwash merino, spun fine for plying into a DK. I’ll probably do all my plying on Sunday – as that’s easy to do around making a Thanksgiving feast.
  • 97 grams and 292 yards of Penny Lane – superwash merino. These two skeins were spun to make soft singles. The merino will bounce up once it is washed and will fill out. If it isn’t as thick as I want, I’ll ply the two and get a chunky weight.
  • 96 grams and 280 yards – same as above
DISCLAIMER: I am carefully documenting my progress not to show off, but so I can have a good record of what I managed to spin each day.
Last night I went to the second spin-in hosted by Team Sweet Georgia. It was great to meet the rest of the team and to see old friends. General consensus is that plying is a good deal. You get to finish your yarn and you get credit for plying, which is way faster than spinning singles. So what’s to lose in that.
I also bought a couple more braids because they were the new fall colours – Bourbon and Grouse. Will spin those up today – polwarth and silk, can’t wait.
Over and out.

Spinzilla 2014: Day 3

Day 3 of Spinzilla proved much more productive because I booked the day off work. I had as much time to spin as I wanted. Talk about delicious.

So here’s what I produced. I finished the second half of the blue polwarth/silk you see at the top. Then I spun up the pink polwarth/silk you see in middle. And in the evening, I spun half a braid of Bluebird Cafe from the Sweet Georgia Yarns fibre club, September. It’s Superwash Merino and spins like a dream. All these fibres spin wonderfully.

Oh, and during my breaks from spinning, I tidied my studio. I reorganized all my tools and fibre from the Knit City workshops I did over the weekend.

The total yardage for day 3 is 973 yards. Not bad at all. This year you get credit for plying your yarn, so I may take a break from spinning singles and ply the Temptress skeins from day 1 and the Bluebird Cafe skeins. We’ll see. Right now I am just having fun busting through my stash and making a dent in it.

Tonight’s the second spin-in at the Sweet Georgia Yarns studio, and I’ll get to see other members of the team, and see what they’ve been up to.

Spinzilla 2014: Day 2

Day two of Spinzilla was a bit more difficult because I had to go into the city to work. I brought my tahkli along to spin cotton because it is so portable, and I can also get a decent amount of yardage on it. Finally.
So this is the amount I spun over lunch. I haven’t measured it yet. I plan to fill another spindle with cotton, wind them into a double-stranded ball and ply it. Then I’ll measure it. 

I didn’t have much time after work as I had an Executive meeting for the Langley Weavers and Spinners Guild. Despite that, I brought my Ashford Joy along to the meeting and spun half of this skein. I finished it up on the morning of Day 3. So the yardage for this has to bridge two days.

And that ends the day 2 show and tell.

Spinzilla 2014: Day 1

I’ve been silent for a long while and there are a variety of excuses for this, but they aren’t half as interesting as this. Ever since Monday, October 6th at 12:00 am I’ve been involved in the second Spinzilla contest.

Spinzilla is a monster of a spinning week. It is a full week where spinners sign up in teams to work to spin as much yardage as they possibly can. I was a member of the Sweet Georgia Yarns team in 2013. I spun 630 grams of fibre resulting in 4496 yds. That’s 2.5 miles of singles!
I am surprisingly competitive, so this year I joined again and have challenged myself to beat my last years yardage. I gave myself an advantage this year by booking off the last three days of the week so I could spend the entire days spinning.
In the next several blog posts I will show you the progression of my spinning.
Here is day one:
This is the first bobbin. It is Temptress a Superwash Merino 80%, Cashmere 10%, and Nylon 10% blend from Sweet Georgia Yarns Fibre Club. I managed to do all this spinning around a work day. One hour in the morning right after I woke up. A half-hour a lunch time. And then when I booked off at 4:30 I spun my heart out putting in another three and a half-hours. 

And here it is wound up on the Niddy Noddy. That’s the way I have decided to measure my yardage. For me it is a more precise way to measure the singles and it also conditions them by allowing the twist to even out as it it wound into a skein. The twist doesn’t leave the singles, it just gets evened out along the line.

And here are two of the lovelies. Almost equal. The top one is 293 yds and the bottom one is 294 yds. Imagine that.

More tomorrow.

Story of a shawl – Part 2

I tried another shawl with the Waterfall yarn I made during Spinzilla week. This is the Spiral Staircase pattern from Ravelry. Easy peasy. While it does do what I was hoping it would so, show off the subtle colour gradations – I should have used larger needles. This shawl is too small for my liking and the fabric that knit up — on the 4mm needles is too dense. I’m going to try it again with 6mm needles so the fabric will be looser and have a chance to drape.

And I will plan it better, so I use every inch of the yarn, unlike the sample above.

Story of a shawl – Part 1

This incomplete story is the tale of a shawl — from fibre to yarn to shawl. The shawl itself is not complete as is this blog post. But stay tuned. I’ll find my camera and take pictures of the next phase of this art object.

This shawl started out as a lovely roving from the Sweet Georgia Yarns fibre club. The colourway is called Waterfall.  In the notes that accompanied the roving, Felicia suggested we try an Ombre approach. Separating all the colours, spinning them in the single colour sequence and then chain plying. So that’s what I did.

This was the first thing I spun  for the Spinzilla contest. And here are all the rolags nicely carded into the colourways and put into some kind of Ombre order.

After an hour of spinning, I was mostly finished with the blue.

After a couple of hours, the green was done too.

[Not sure why this photo is the size of a postage stamp.]

Here is the final yarn, chain plied to preserve the colour ways. You can see the silk shining through.

And here’s the first attempt at a shawl. It’s the Adhara Rainbow Shawl — pattern was from Elann.com but I can’t find it anymore. It’s essentially a feather and fan pattern that grows.

I kept getting lost in the pattern and ended up un-knitting more than I was knitting. So decided that the yarn/pattern were telling me something.

So I tried another one.

Photos of that one tomorrow.

Spinzilla: The Final Photo Shoot

Spinzilla is over and the plying has ended. The first three skeins are double-plied, the next two are Navajo plied, and the last one on the right is a singles, and will stay that way.It has all been washed, thwacked and bashed about. In other words, it’s all ready to be made into some fantastic object.

Though right now, I am not entirely sure what that will be. Some things to consider: all the yarn is a wool/silk and at times, something else blend. It’s sleek, fine, and has potential for a lovely drape.

The only skein I have plans for is the Waterfall one. That one is the fourth from the left. It was done in an Ombre mode, so the colours blend in a long colourway. That one begs to be a shawl. Over the weekend, I’ll tour around Ravelry and see what’s possible.

I will of course keep you posted.

PS – Team Sweet Georgia – the team I spun for, came in 6th out of 34 international teams. I’d say that’s a good showing.