Clean Off Those Bobbins (and spin some yarn)

Cleaning my craft area was one of my holiday chores, though most of it was more fun than work. I came across old friends in my spinning fiber, handspun yarn, commercial yarn, and fabric stashes, items I’d forgotten.

Handfuls of locks and bobbins of singles… That’s what pretty yarns are made of.

Handfuls of locks and bobbins of singles… That’s what pretty yarns are made of.

But as with any tidying project, there were the perplexing leftovers: samples of fiber from various classes that weren’t labeled, mystery skeins, and most troublingly bobbins of unidentified singles and weaving yarns. Before I start a large spinning project, I need those bobbins cleared off for storage, but I can’t bear to just trash those once-loved yarns that I spent so much time with. What to do?


Judith MacKenzie’s video The Spinner’s Color Toolbox is full of fun techniques to try. Some of the yarns are textured, some simple in structure, but all create a riot of color from whatever yarns you have on hand. Combine plied or commercial yarns with handspun singles to make bouclés, garnetted yarns (get out the scissors and handcards!), marls, and all kinds of fun yarns. There may not be enough yarn at the finish for a full project, but a few dozen yarns of colorful yarns to accent a weaving or knitting project (and a few hours of fun and dexterity building) are a wonderful way to spend an afternoon of spinning.

A rainbow of mystery bobbins!

A rainbow of mystery bobbins!

I have five bobbins of medium-thick Romney singles that might like to wind their way around some commercial wool three-ply to make a spiral yarn. And those frustratingly slippery bobbins of reeled silk—how about a sweet bouclé with some puffy mystery fiber?

(Judith also shares the secret of her new favorite yarn in the video, one that breaks all the rules. It’s a little like stone soup yarn: A little of this, a little of that . . . and the resulting yarn is stashbustingly colorfully delicious.)


Anne Merrow
Editor, Spin-Off

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