Making Handspun Yarn – the Tools Involved


I have been having a fabulous time learning all about spinning since purchasing my first spinning wheel in February. I’ve been spinning wool roving mostly from my collection of roving by Bartlettyarns obtained from the New Hampshire Wool Show last year (they had a buy 4 get one free sale…or something like that. At the time I had no idea I would learn to spin; I simply stocked up because it was a darn good deal and you can never have enough wool roving for felting :)). It’s very light and fluffy and I enjoy the texture it creates once spun. I am still waiting for the plying head/jumbo flyer I ordered for my Lendrum, so for now I have been spinning and storing my singles…for the most part anyway. I also have been experimenting with plying just to get a feel for it (you can most certainly ply with the regular head you just get less yardage).

I own two lazy kates and I use them for storing my bobbins when I am not plying. I tend to get bored spinning one color so will switch it out for another fairly often. I watched a wonderful video called “The Gentle Art of Plying” by Judith Mackenzie. Judith calls these marvelous contraptions just “kates” and I chuckled because I agree with her – how can you call something so useful lazy? When she made this remark in her video I was nodding my head in agreement! If you are looking to understand more about plying and a good method to do it, I highly recommend her video. It certainly took the intimidation out for me. I even tried plying cables. It is a whole lot of fun and really addictive. I think once you understand twist and counter-twist (S and Z as it is called in the spinning world) plying is not so intimidating. I always thought I would only make fun bulky singles, but I am really loving plying and the balance created in the finished yarns.

A niddy noddy is another useful tool with an entertaining name. One you have finished plying your yarn (or spinning your bulky single yarn as it may be) you wind it onto a niddy noddy. This helps straighten the fibers as well as a tool to count how many yards was made. For my particular niddy noddy, I count the wraps and multiply by 1.5 to get the yardage of yarn made. Winding yarn on a niddy noddy takes a bit of skill and this is where my jewelry making experience really help me out. I have heard of people who, even after years of spinning, never could master wrapping on a niddy noddy. For me, I find it quiet fluid! 🙂

After winding the yarn onto the niddy noddy, you tie off the yarn and then set the twist and/or full. I will talk about this in another post. 🙂