The First Spin Off Combo Spinalong & Knitalong

Confession time: I love to spin a whole lot more than I like to knit.

So when a few readers asked me to organize a SAL/KAL (spinalong/knitalong) based on the combination spinning method I’d outlined in Spin Off Winter 2017, I knew that was a challenge I needed to take. Four months later, here’s the Reveal, Getting Real, and Lessons Learned.

The Passioknit Spinner podcast’s Tracy Lew shared her method for choosing, dividing, and recombining braids of handpainted fiber with me for my article, and the idea sparked a movement in the Spin Off Ravelry group. Many others joined in using the #combospinsalkal hashtag on Instagram. The challenge: To spin and knit a sweater using the combospin technique between December 28, 2016, and March 31, 2017.

Spinalong: Spinning the singles for the #combospinsalkal used up every bobbin—and then some! Photo by Debbie Held

Spinning the singles for the #combospinsalkal used up every bobbin—and then some! Photo by Debbie Held

Our “-along” has just ended, and not only did I complete my sweater, but many other participants completed their sweater spins and knitted (or at least got halfway through knitting) their sweaters. A few rock stars finished multiple sweater quantities and/or garments.

It was an inspirational (virtual) gathering of minds.

Here’s what I learned during these past few months:

  • To help thwart my usual knitting nemesis, Sir Analysis Paralysis, I ran a Ravelry search using the parameters of my yardage, its gauge/weight, and patterns I owned within my library, and I told myself that I was to pick one.
  • Yes, I can indeed knit a sweater for myself with the awkward and scant amount of just 930 yards of yarn. I used a bit of commercial stash to line the insides of my pockets once I’d run out of my handspun, which included knitting up my swatch. Were I of different measurements, a capelet, vest, or short-sleeved sweater would have served me equally well. I wrote it up on my Ravelry project page.
  • There is truly power in numbers. The excitement, commitment, and just plain talent found among this group of women who banded together to spin and knit their own one-of-a-kind handspun garments was motivational—more so than I’d imagined it could be.
  • There is nothing more satisfying than spinning your very own custom colorway from a mashup of your favorite braids of fiber and then knitting that yarn into a wearable garment. I so thoroughly enjoyed my knitting that I can’t wait to do it all again!
Beginning with just 22 ounces of fiber (instead of the recommended 32 ounces) yielded 930 yards, just enough for a sweater. Photo by Debbie Held

Beginning with just 22 ounces of fiber (instead of the recommended 32 ounces) yielded 930 yards, just enough for a sweater. Photo by Debbie Held

Getting real with myself, it’s time to de-stash most of my remaining commercial sweater quantities of yarn. Now that I know what I can do with my own hands, I can’t see ever going back.

Get inspired by taking a peek in our #combospinsalkal thread in the Spin Off Ravelry group. We plan on doing it all again next January, but until then you can always join in with Tracy’s group, as she co-hosted the SAL/KAL and is keeping it alive through June for newcomers and those who are still going strong.

—Debbie

Featured Image: Photos by George Boe and Debbie Held.


Debbie Held is a freelance writer who lives her life surrounded by good friends, her Italian greyhound, Iggy, and plenty of wool and spinning tools. She credits spinning with helping to pull her through a decades-long chronic illness. Debbie and her stash live in the Atlanta area and may be reached via www.debbieheld.com or on Ravelry as doodler01.


Spin Yourself a Sweater!

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