The Seven Days of Spinzilla

Spinzilla_editedOkay, I’ll admit it. I can be a bit of a “default spinner.” I spin to relax and take pleasure in the process of making the yarn. I usually pick a lovely braid or bump from my stash and spin a standard 2-ply yarn. It is satisfying, but I am in a bit of a rut. I know how to make other kinds of yarn; I’ve been lucky to study with some of the best spinning teachers. This year for Spinzilla I am going to challenge myself to spin 7 different ways—a different yarn each day.

On the first day of Spinzilla, I will ease into the event. I will spin a true worsted yarn. I will take some lovely long locks; I believe there is a bag of BFL lamb’s locks somewhere in my stash. I will gently comb and diz it into little nests perfect for worsted spinning. Then, I will use a short-forward draw to create a strong, smooth, and lustrous single and make a 2-ply.

A sample of the 2-ply yarn that Margaret Stove spun to knit the Bush Bouquet shawl that was given to the Prince and Princess of Wales in celebration of the birth of their son, William.

A sample of the 2-ply yarn that Margaret Stove spun to knit the Bush Bouquet shawl that was given to the Prince and Princess of Wales in celebration of the birth of their son, William. Photos by Joe Coca.

For the second day of Spinzilla, I will break out my hand cards. There is a Shetland fleece I’ve been wanting to card into rolags. I bought this particular Wisconsin Shetland’s fleece twice, the last one being her last fleece–RIP Mazzie. Her fleece will be spun woolen with the long draw technique learned from reading Paula Simmons’s Spinning for Softness and Speed. This bouncy airy yarn will make toasty mittens for the Colorado winter.

Three days into Spinzilla, I will grab a braid of colorful Merino top from my stash a spin from the fold. This is a method I was introduced to on my very first day as a spinner nine years ago. I can’t say that I took to it very well, but I am up for the challenge. I won’t worry about making even yarn so much as practice this way of drafting that has not come so easy to me over the years.

Day Four is the half-way point. To stay motivated, I will spin energized singles, taking my inspiration from the vivid yarns of Kathryn Alexander. I will place my small whorl on my wheel and treadle as fast as I can. The yarn will kink and curl if I ease up on the tension as I draft. When I knit up the singles in Stockinette stitch, the fabric I create will bias with a life of its own.

When Day Five rolls around, I will be ready to totally let loose with some fun and funky art yarns. I’ll grab the brightest and glitziest fibers from my stash, add some mohair locks, threads, or maybe even some hand-dyed silk cocoons—anything that will fit through my Bulky Plyer’s orifice is game. I will spin with abandon and not look back—no overthinking!

Using the inherent energy of singles yarns, many colors, and a variety of knit stitches as creative tools, Kathryn Alexander creates awe-inspiring artistic garments.

Using the inherent energy of singles yarns, many colors, and a variety of knit stitches as creative tools, Kathryn Alexander creates awe-inspiring artistic garments.

Day Six, I will switch gears entirely. I’ll be feeling the need for something fine and delicate. Margaret Stove will be my inspiration. A delicate 2-ply laceweight will be this day’s goal. The lace bobbin and high speed whorl will add the twist I need for super fine singles. The lace knitting of Estonia and the Shetland islands will be in the back of my mind. Will my yarn be fine enough to make a shawl that fits through a wedding band?

Finally Day Seven will arrive after a week of pushing my spinning skills to the max. My grand finale yarn will be a thick-and-thin single, the kind I spun with my first attempts at the wheel years ago. Some spinners say that it is hard to go back–I will see. Will this yarn take more concentration to draft? Will I need to be more mindful of my treadling? An extra-slow whorl will assist me in my efforts for this last Spinzilla challenge.

How will you spend your seven days of Spinzilla this year? What challenges will you take on? Although length of yarn spun is important, I hope to snap myself out of my spinning rut. With Spinzilla still over eight weeks away, I better get training!

Happy spinning!
Elizabeth

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