Monthly Archives: February 2020

Colour and Spinning Playground – new workshop

My newest workshop is a full day of colour, experimentation and fun devoted to learning how to use blending equipment, blending colours and spinning the results. In this class you can make all the yarn needed for the wrap featured in the photo.

In the first half of the day, we use the most portable tools for blending colour for spinning: hand carders, blending boards, combs and hackles. In the second part, we will spin it up and reflect on our results. In addition to experimenting with different blending tools, participan learn colour theory in a practical and applied way.

And here are the results of several of those colour/yarn experiments.

To promote my classes, I carry around several skeins to show what the results could be. After all the trial and error for this class, I ended up with a lot of yarn.

Instead of the hassle of all the skeins, I decided to make a large piece of fabric, leave the fringes long, to show you what the yarns and colours look like woven up.

Below is the warping process on my 32″ Ashford rigid heddle loom.

I saved yardage from each of the warp yarns to use in the weft, and wove it all in a random way.

And many thanks to Kylan Rivers at Kinfolk Yarn for the photo of my finished piece, modelled by yours truly.

Now I can show the yarn and colours in action.

So join my in my class on March 14 – at Fibres West in Langley, BC, and you can make all the yarn needed for this wrap.

Does spindle weight matter?

At the Langley Weavers and Spinners Guild Annual Sale, I added two Turkish spindles to my collection — a 20 gram Pacific Yew and a 35 gram Arbutus. They are beautiful tools, lovingly and carefully made by a high level spindle maker and crafter – Ed Jenkins.

I am often asked the question – what effect does spindle weights have on the yarn we make? Or more specifically – what weight of spindle should I buy?

So I felt a bit of an experiment was in order. I lined up three Turkish spindles – of three different weights — 20, 35, and 50 grams. I used the same fibre to spin yarn on each spindle, trying to keep the yarn weights similar.

For clarity in this discussion, let’s call them spindle 1, 2, and 3 from smallest to largest. Here are my observations:

When spinning spindle 1, the smallest one, I noticed that it didn’t keep a spin for as long as the others. It was easier to set into motion than the other two, but even so, I had to flick it twice as often to get enough twist into my yarn. It was also hard to keep the yarn the thickness I wanted. This spindle wanted me to spin fine yarn. The thicker the yarn, the more it slowed the spindle down.

Spindle 2 kept a spin going for a long time. It needed a bit more of a flick than 1, but kept the spin going. It was easy to draft the fibre and keep the yarn density the same throughout.

Spindle 3 kept a spin going the longest, but it was the one that needed the most effort to flick. Once the spindle got the weight of fibre on it, it got harder to flick.

Once all the spinning was done I made plying balls from each turtle – that’s what we call the singles yarn that is being stored on the spindle. I marked them with removable stitch markers so I would know which yarn belonged to which spindle.

I plied the singles with my Snyder Steampunk spindle and then washed the yarn.

I’m having trouble with my camera, so photos of the washed skeins will follow later.


The main thing I learned from this exercise is that it is difficult to spin yarn of equal weight with different weights of spindles.

The smallest and lightest spindle (1 – 20 grams) wanted the yarn spun fine. When I spun fine yarn on it, the spindle kept the spin. When I made the yarn thicker, to meet the grist of the other two spindles, the spindle slowed down quickly and need more effort to spin. The resulting yarn is not as consistently spun as the other two.

There wasn’t as dramatic a difference between the two heavier spindles, despite there being 15 gram difference between them also. What was noticeable was for the heaviest one how much more effort it took to put the spindle into motion once it started to accumulate spun yarn. A 50 gram spindle with 15 grams of fibre on it means 65 grams you are putting into motion.

So what weight of spindle should you buy? Whatever one you want to make the kind of yarn you want. Just know that it is more difficult to spin thick yarn with a light spindle, and more difficult (but possible) to spin fine yarn on a heavy spindle.

Finding pink

This year I am joining in on Spin Off magazine’s Mitt Along. Despite living in the lower mainland of British Columbia where we rarely see below zero weather, I decided to make a super warm pair of mitts. So in my experience, that calls for a stranded knitted pattern.

Last weekend I experimented with several fibres and made the main colour yarn. That’s the skein of green you can see below. For the contrast colour, I want to pick up on the pink noil flecks I put into the green yarn, and so the search is on for the right pink.

I want the yarn to behave just like the green yarn – meaning I want it to be the same thickness and have the same bounce. To do this I thought that adding a small amount of the dark brown Friesian (that’s the name of the breed of sheep from whence the brown fleece came) to some pink and white rolags I had in my stash.

I carded up a sample on my hand carders and this rolag below was the second sample. The first sample is the small skein of yarn to the left of the rolag.

And here is what it looked like spun up. It turned out darker than I wanted it to be. But the brown fibre produced the bounce I wanted. Back to the drawing board to find some white fibre with similar properties of the brown Friesian and make another sample.

Stay tuned.