Category Archives: Spinning Supplies

Even in the darkest hour, you can always find me…

…Because I just bought some glow-in-the-dark spinning fiber!

It glows!! How cool is that?

I have always played around with glow-thread and it makes for some really fun Halloween yarns…but this looks pleasingly chunky and wonderful to play with. I can hardly wait to get my mitts on it!!
There’s so much opportunity for fun here.

Meanwhile, I’m almost done with a chemo cap for a friend of a friend…and a little more spinning here and there. I’ve been spinning more on breaks at the Mines, just to relax. It’s fun to watch my coworkers when the spindle goes around and around…sometimes I’ll laugh and whisper, “Sleepy…you are getting sleepy…ALL HAIL THE HYPNO-TOAD!!” and we’ll have a good chortle. This weekend I’d like to put up a nice spinning tutorial for beginners, so I’ll play with the camera a bit this afternoon. The last tutorial was so much fun, I want to do more…

My favorite month! At last!!!

It’s cooling off…the sky is darkening…the leaves are falling…and I love every second of it!!
Finally, the month I’ve been waiting for!! Delicious, wonderful October!

So to celebrate I’ve been spinning a cheerful Halloween yarn or two. Look at these happy, happy skulls!

Skully yarn!
A promising start to some happy, happy skully yarn!

While I love my spinning wheels to distraction, sometimes a spindle is ideal when you’re adding on loads of bulky things like beads or cocoons or scraps of silk and whatnot. I’ve also been using a cool trick for adding the beads: Stringing them into small bits of the roving with a needle-threader, then fluffing out the roving so it grabs on to the rest of the yarn. It doesn’t ladder like a thread can do with a heavy bead, and is remarkably stable!

Meanwhile, last night I just got back from visiting a friend who has an art studio at the Northrup King building in Northeast. I love those spaces, full of color and light. I kind of covet them, to be truthful. Studio spaces are so great. I never really used one myself, though. Why? Welllll, when you really get down to it; creatively I can be a bit lazy. When inspiration hits, the last thing I want to do is haul myself down through the cold, windry weather to where I put all my tools, paints, wool, etcetera. I’d just rather hop out of bed, have a wash, run downstairs or upstairs to the wool-bins and start mixing the fluff. These days I’m awfully lucky to have enough space at home where this is doable. If I was doing this sort of thing full-time, a space would make more sense,but I’m grateful at the moment I don’t need it. There are times though, when the paying job gets stressful and I think about starting a small yarn shop. There’s a bit of a yarn-shop gap in my neighborhood, and maybe , just maybe…

My first spinning tutorial: Making your own drop spindle!

This week I’ve been taking a staycation to do some much-needed puttering. And one of the things I did was make a couple of new spindles from start to finish. If you want to learn how to spin but the sticker-shock of a wheel got to you, never fear! Drop spindles are easy to make, economical, and fun. Plus you can add your own personal touches! I ended up making one very large Gothly spindle for bulky weight yarns, and a more delicate flowery one…

You will need: A dowel,some sandpaper,1-2 packages of polymer clay,a good glue,paint or beeswax or wood-oil,(optional) one cup hook.(optional.)

First off, have a look at your dowel. How long is it? A good comfortable spindle should be between between 9 to 15 inches, depending on what you want to spin. If you want bulky yarns, go big. Smaller spindles are good for more delicate yarns, but if you’re new to spinning a larger spindle will be your very best friend. Sand your dowel so it doesn’t catch on your yarn and takes paint well. I also like to taper mine a bit because it looks nice. To save yourself loads of sanding for a tapered tip, you can use a pencil sharpener and then smooth everything down and take the sharp edge off. You’re looking for elegant lines, not Buffy the Vampire Slayer here…

Bare dowel
A bare dowel, sanded and ready for a hook.

You can add your hook at the top of the dowel. But if you couldn’t find a hook you liked, it’s not the end of the world. You can also add a notch to the top to hold onto your yarn. Just loop the yarn around your finger and slip it onto the notch, and it will hold nicely. You can use sandpaper to sand in your notch, or cut one carefully with a knife.

Notched dowel.
A notched dowel with sample yarn. Just loop it around your notch with a half-twist, and it will hold just fine.

I would recommend painting just the top of your dowel whatever color you want at the moment, and sticking it upright in a jar to dry. You’ll use it as a handle later for painting the rest of your spindle. Meanwhile, time for the fun part–playing with clay! For a large spindle, you’ll be using a whole small package of polymer clay while a smaller one will take about 3/4 of a package. You can smoosh out the clay in a circle or square, add colors, glitter, beads, whatever makes you feel fancy. If you have a piece of your dowel left over, you can use it to make sure your center-hole will fit your spindle. If not, you can use your spindle to measure the hole,but be careful you don’t distort the hole too much.

Polymer clay whorls
Polymer clay spindle whorls, ready to be baked.

Now that you’ve baked your whorls and they’ve had a chance to cool, you can add them carefully to your dowel. If the hole is a little tight, no worries–polymer clay is easy to sand down or even carve.If there’s a gap, it’s easy to fix with a good glue–or you can make a smaller bead with a tighter fitting hole, bake it and add it over the whorl, gluing it into place. But where to put your whorl? Some people enjoy the whorl near the top so you can show off all that hard work. But I like bottom whorls, because they’re so stable. Either way, leave a little room on the top or bottom so it’s easier for you to handle.
Once you’ve got your spindle happily positioned and glued, you can paint, wax or oil the dowel. I prefer paint and a nice clear-coat varnish…and sometimes some very small bore glitter between the pain and varnish layers. Because I get down like that. Once everything is painted, use a string to hang up your spindle somewhere out of the way to dry…

Finished drop spindles
The finished drop spindles, one a cute fairy spindle and one a dark, brooding Gothly one…

And there you are! Your very own spindle, for a couple of bucks and a little time…

Beautiful or grotesque?

This time of year I start thinking about the Halloween yarns I enjoy making. Every year it’s something different and and interesting. Sometimes it’s a traditional yarn in pleasing fall colors, or deep reds and blacks with glo-thread, or some wonderful weirdo thing with skulls and little fake bones and silk shreds. This year, I think a big-fun zombie yarn with unsetlling silk cocoons may well be my thing…

Silk cocoons
Olive green silk cocoons…beautiful, and a little disturbing…

I love this olive color. They could be really striking, strung with beads and pearls in an elegant yarn, or perhaps something more seaweedy and pirate-y. There are some pretty fun possibilities here, for sure. Creature from the Black Lagoon? Yay! Unsettling eyeballs? Definitely! Zombies? Why, sure!!

I’m also thinking seriously about adding a few surprise gift-boxes in the Etsy shop. Perhaps a box with a few random, interesting mini-skeins, an ounce of random cool fluff or maybe a knitted critter. I love surprise boxes myself, so I reckon it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to offer for other people. Plus, it would be so much fun to pack them up! I could add little handmade stationary cards, or an odd polymer clay dollhouse figurine, or tiny spindles with eensy-weensy yarns wrapped around them. I’d love to know what people might enjoy in a surprise box coming from me…

Meanwhile, maybe I’ll play with the cocoons a little this afternoon, and see how they combine with a few other fluffy things..hehhehhehhhhhh…

Weird things in jars…

I took a little time off this week for dyeing more wool and various putterings. It’s hot and sunny out, which is perfect for drying lots and lots of fiber…I was also trying my hand at dyeing a fistful of silk cocoons a friend of mine gave me to play with. They looked a little more sinister than I’d expected, blobbing around in a jar of blue-green tinted water with a hint of pink.

Overdoing the fluff
Lots and lots and lots of fluff out drying in the sun…with a sinister jar of blobbyness…

Everything looks so wholesome in the photo except for that weird jar. What’s in it? Olives? Eyeballs? It didn’t help that the silk threads kept trying to attach to each other and they came out in a creepy globby green mass that stuck to my hand. It was like running into a spider web, except I’d done it to myself on purpose. But the cocoons turned out a pretty shade of lime, so it was worth it…

Also, I decided there weren’t enough creepy candles at my house, so I bought a few more. there’s an Etsy shop called Darknessvoid that offers wonderful spine-candles. (I developed a crush on them when I saw these huge, flickering spine-candles in Prisoner of Azkaban.) I thought I’d try a smallish one first before investing in one of the full-sized ones. There were also some great skull-candles to keep my crystal skull-head company…

Skull candles
They all look like they’re singing to me…I’m not sure I want to hear what the song is, exactly.

Between the dyeing, carding, spinning and mercenary knitting I’m quite the busy thing lately. It’s a good thing; it’s why I went part-time at my day job; to have a little more time for money-makers that soothe me and make me happy. Just looking at all the fiber I dyed up made me so happy. So many colors! such great textures! And it was all for me to play with…

And today? I wonder if I can stick a few more cocoons in the dyeing jar, just for more globby fun…