Monday, October 28, 2013

Bobbins Up!

As a spinner having more bobbins to hold yarn is important.  To make a multiple ply yarn you usually need to have multiple bobbins.  Even with a simple 2-ply yarn you need 2 bobbins of singles plus a third bobbin to ply onto.  Bobbins for spinning are fairly expensive, so having a less expensive alternative for storage and to ply from is a nice option.  This rewinding not only frees up your spinning bobbins for reuse, it also helps to equalize the twist through your singles which makes plying more even and thus more successful.

So I have been considering options for some sort of bobbin winder.  These tools aren't cheap, but with the price of spinning wheel bobbins it doesn't take to many to make the bobbin winder a relatively inexpensive option.  And storage bobbins are much less expensive than spinning wheel bobbins, making the long term cost much less.

When one is working on a large spinning project, say spinning a fleece, being able to store the singles until all the singles are spun can be a useful option.  My personal preference is to keep track of the order bobbins of singles are spun then mixing the order when plying.  So say you spun 6 bobbins of singles.  I would then either spin the first and last, or first of the first half and first of the second half together.  So numbering the bobbins in order by date of spinning, bobbin #1 would be plied with either 4 or 6.  Bobbin 2 with 5, and bobbin 3 with either 6 or 4.  This isn't a hard and fast rule, but since quite a lot of time can pass between my spinning sessions I prefer to average out differences in the way I spun the singles by mixing up the plying.

Some time ago I happened to learn of a product called Bobbins Up.  It looked like a very nice idea, nice large storage bobbins that could be filled with the use of an electric drill or screwdriver.  But I didn't order any at that point, figuring to do some more research before making a purchase.

Several months went by, then Spinzilla came along and I got to thinking more about bobbins.  So I did some more research and thought that I would just get a winder through a local shop.  Only due to Acts of Nature none were available for over a month.  I decided to try to find the other bobbins, only I couldn't remember what they were called!  Did some internet searches, but didn't see them.  Finally found the right reference and ordered some.

I've been really pleased with these bobbins.  I have weighed most of the ones I got and they were all between 30.15 and 30.19 grams, most were 30.18 grams.  Since they are made of a recyclable plastic I just marked on the end with a Sharpie the weight of that particular bobbin so in future when I weigh them with yarn I'll be able to tell just how much the yarn itself weighs.

Each bobbin comes with its own bit that fits into your electric drill or screwdriver.  You really only need one, but it is nice to be able to store each bobbin with its own bit so you always know you have everything you need.

Another really nice feature of these bobbins is that one end has a whorl.  Having a whorl means that you can use your tensioned lazy kate when plying to keep it from back spinning.  Ingenious.

My order arrived in 2 days.  In fact, before the mail came that day I had sent an e-mail to the supplier asking for an estimated arrival time.  I was sent a tracking number but the package had since arrived.  I thanked them for the fast service and was told that if an order is placed before 3 PM ET it will usually be shipped out the same day.

Just in case you are wondering, no, I am not affiliated with this supplier in any way other than as a satisfied customer.  So, if you are looking for a nice, affordable, option for storage bobbins, consider trying Bobbins Up!  I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Final Spinzilla Results

Finished measuring the last of the Spinzilla singles yesterday.  Here's my final submission photo.  I tried to insert that as an image, but it wouldn't accept it.  Weird.  In all I spun 3217 yards in a week.

I've got a bobbin winder on order, which I'm waiting to come in so I can put some of these yarns back onto bobbins ready for plying.

Monday, October 14, 2013


The first full week of October is Spinning and Weaving Week.  So this year there was a contest called Spinzilla.  I joined Team Stringtopia (#teamstringtopia) spinning up a number of different fibers during the 7 days the contest ran.  Each team can have up to 25 people, and the Spinzilla pages explain about all the details.

As someone for whom spinning is a relaxation, a way to relax and enjoy fiber going through my hands to become yarn, enjoy the process as much or sometimes more than the end result, the production spinning for yardage was a bit of a jolt.  However, I put aside all my knitting projects and spun as much as I was able.  Now mind, I work full time outside the home, we have a multi-pet household and I take some classes of an evening, so the amount of time I had to spin was limited.

Knowing myself it was important to have multiple projects to work on during the week so I selected a number of different fibers.  Some were single batts, some larger amounts.  Prior to the beginning of the week I cleared my spinning equipment of yarn so I could start from empty bobbins/spindles, making it easy to keep track of just what I did during the week.

I have 2 spinning wheels, a double treadle Lendrum, and a Mazurka, and a Butterfly Electric Spinner.  The Butterfly I have been spinning up some bouncy carded dark grey wool, so using an empty bobbin I spun more of this.  As of noon on Sunday I had spun 732 yards of this wool.  The Mazurka I spun some light grey CVM cross batts.  I had recarded the wool the week before so it would be soft, fluffy and easy to spin.  And it was.  I ended up spinning 901 yards of this.

The Lendrum I used for all the other bits of fiber that took my fancy.  In September I took a class at Stringtopia called Color Blending on Drum Carder.  We made a number of interesting blends as well as batt structures like layered batts and taking a roving off through a diz.  Several of these were spun up as part of my Spinzilla spinning.  I found it very helpful to be able to switch around to different projects either as my eyes got tired or I just needed to do something different for a while.  All in all I spun over 1168 yards of singles on the Lendrum.

In addition to all this wheel/electric spinner spinning I also took a carbon fiber micro trindle spindle and bison down fiber with me when I carpooled to work.  Over 4 days of commuting I spun 3.15 grams onto one spindle then 6.63 on another.  The 3.15 grams yielded just over 61 yards of yarn.

I still have to measure how many yards are in the 6.63 grams of bison fiber and how many yards I spun on the electric spinner last evening.  However, as of this writing I measured over 2800 yards of singles spun over last week.  In addition to the measuring of yardage I also need to get a photo taken of what I have spun.