Get Mobile! 5 Tips for Spinning Yarn While You Walk

Think a day of handspinning means being tied to one location? Think again! In “On-the-Go Spinning” from the Spin Off Fall 2016 issue, Devin Helmen shares his tips for spinning yarn while you walk. Here’s one of his tips: Get mobile by automating your spinning practice.

I love spinning so much that I often try to find ways to fit it into my routine. One of my favorite things to do with spindle spinning is to take it to fiber festivals, family get-togethers, or other places where I can wander around such as art fairs and parks. As a bus rider, I have often spun walking to and from the bus stop and while waiting.

  A wrist distaff is an excellent tool for fiber management. With a little practice, you can rely on your sense of touch and spin without missing a step.

A wrist distaff is an excellent tool for fiber management. With a little practice, you can rely on your sense of touch and spin without missing a step.

Automating my spinning was the key to spinning successfully while walking around a crowded festival, along a busy street to the bus stop, or even when admiring a cardinal while taking a nature walk. By “automating” your spinning, you can rely on touch. This is easy to do with a little practice and can easily be done while you are watching your favorite television show or staring out at a beautiful sunset.

  1. First of all, practice securing your yarn on the spindle, whether by making a half hitch or getting the yarn seated into the hook securely, without looking.
  2. Once you can secure the yarn, work on setting the spindle in motion without looking. It is good to learn to judge the motion of the spindle by feeling the twist entering the new yarn.
  3. Once you can feel the twist, you will be able to judge when the spindle needs to be put into motion again, and you can do so without looking.
  4. Next, work on winding on each make of yarn without looking too often.
  5. Once you can secure the yarn, put the spindle in motion, and wind on, all without having to look, you can work on drafting by feel (or mostly by feel). I often draft with my elbows bent and my hands directly in front of my stomach. I can see the yarn without having to pay too much attention, and it does not put much strain on my shoulders. This way, I can keep an eye on where I am walking while also keeping an eye on what I am spinning.

Spinning while you walk is a fantastic way to get mobile while enjoying a favorite hobby. For those of us who like to keep our hands occupied, it is a great way to avoid getting twitchy. With a little practice to make your spinning more unconscious, it is an easy way to add more fiber into your daily life.

— Devin Helmen

Featured Image: Butterflying the yarn onto my drafting hand brings the spindle back up and keeps the singles under tension. Photos by Zeus Carrete.

Cubicle monkey by day, fiber fanatic by night, Devin Helmen has been feeding his fiber obsession since he taught himself to spin at age 8. He spins, knits, and is learning to weave in beautiful Minnesota. He has a passion for spindles and everyday textiles and blogs intermittently at

Take Your Spinning on the Go!

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