Abby Franquemont’s 3 Tips for Spinning Large Projects

Have you been participating in the Spin Off Ravelry group’s #CombospinSALKAL? The spin-along officially ends on Friday, but I have a confession: I don’t think I’m going to finish spinning in time, much less knit a sweater. Spinning large projects can feel overwhelming. No worries! Abby Franquemont comes to the rescue with tips to help us go the distance.

combo spin

Elizabeth’s combo-spin-along singles in process.

The combo-spin-along is based on Debbie Held’s Spin Off Winter 2017 article, “Coordinating Handpaints: The no-frill method to a cohesive spinning mashup.” Participants gather eight 4-ounce handpainted braids of fiber from their stashes, break them up following a formula, mix up the bits of fiber, and spin them for a sweater. In her video Get More Spun: Spinning to Knit Large Projects, Abby uses spinning for a sweater as an example of how to spin for large projects. Perfect—that is just what the #CombospinSALKAL is all about. Abby suggests the following tweaks to your usual spinning routine to make your time at the wheel more productive:

1. Have everything you’ll need while spinning close at hand.

  • You’ll most frequently reach for fiber, so prepare your fiber ahead of time. Comb locks, card rolags, or break up prepared spinning fiber into smaller, more manageable bits before you spin. Don’t waste precious spinning time repeatedly stopping and starting to prepare more fiber.

2. Do a warm-up spin.

  • Time yourself spinning a set amount of fiber to get an idea of how long it takes to spin a particular length or yarn. This will help you calculate about how much time it will take to spin for your large project, which will help you reach your goal in time (and not wear a half-knitted sweater to the fiber festival). The warm-up spin will also help you notice if you need to make any adjustments to your wheel; for example, swapping out the whorl to add more or less twist could make your treadling more efficient.

3. Take frequent breaks.

  • Spinning without taking breaks is draining. Abby explains that when you get tired, you become less consistent and slow down. This is not the most efficient use of your wheel time. Abby spins for no more than 30–45 minutes at a time between breaks. Get up, stretch, take a little stroll, and grab a snack to keep you going.

I’ve got my fiber prepped, I know it takes about 15 minutes for me to spin a single portion, and my wheel is oiled and ready to roll. Check back with us on April 24 for a guest post by #CombospinSALKAL host and Spin Off contributor Debbie Held. She will fill us in on the combo-spin-along participants’ projects and show us her finished sweater. With Abby’s tips, by the end of April I may have some finished yarn to show off, too—and possibly a cast-on sweater. Better get spinning!


Featured Image: Elizabeth’s combo-spin-along fibers before they are broken apart. Photos by Elizabeth Prose.

Learn more great spinning tips from Abby Franquemont!

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