One of many valuable lessons learned from Judith MacKenzie


Judith MacKenzie sharing the majesty of her new home—on the windswept shores of the north Pacific Ocean.

Judith (right) with one of her early pieces of  knitted handspinning. Liz Hammond-Kaarremaa (left) purchased the piece when she took spinning classes with Judith some twenty-five years ago.

Keeping left and right straight in spinning

I've always had a hard time with left and right. You know the trick where you hold up your hands and make an L with your index finger and thumb on your left hand to tell the difference between your left and right hand? Well, to me they look the same—I really have to think about it to see the difference. If someone gives me directions, I'm much better off if they tell me to go north or south on a certain street rather than to turn right or left. And like many beginners, I had a couple skeins when I first started spinning that I spun counterclockwise and then couldn't figure out why plying wasn't working. My attempt to make yarn had turned into a jumbled, stringy mess. Eventually, I figured it out and paid closer attention to the direction I was spinning my yarn so that I'd get the results I wanted.

Since nearly everyone around me seems not to have this same problem with right and left as I do, I figured it was just a funny little quirk in my brain. However, recently when I was reviewing some of the footage I shot while I was taking Judith MacKenzie's workshop "Tribal Textile Treasures" in Forks, Washington, in April this year, Judith mentioned that a lot of spinners have trouble with right and left as well as Z-twist and S-twist yarns. Suddenly, I didn't feel like such an odd duck. Judith mentioned that a lot of the spinners she knows have little tricks for remembering how to insert the twist they want into the yarn—because as we all know, Z-twist and S-twist yarns react very differently when knitted, crocheted, or woven into a project. One trick she mentioned for thigh spinning in this video clip, is that when you move your right hand toward your heart (up your leg from your knee to your hip) you're introducing a clockwise twist into your yarn (also known as Z-twist), and when you move your right hand away from your heart (down your leg from your hip to your knee), you're introducing a counterclockwise twist or S-twist.

How do you keep track of the direction you spin your yarn? Do you have any little tricks or funny stories you'd like to share?

Happy spinning,

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