Saturday, January 25, 2014

I Hates Spinning Waste

Now that I'm venturing into the world of 4-ply spinning, I'm finding I frequently wind up in the position where one of my bobbins runs of single before the others do - even when I divide the initial roving up into equal portions.

This drives me nuts; it takes quite some time to spin thin singles, and I don't want to waste any!

So here's what I do.

Get yourself a small, accurate diet scale (costs about $25) and weigh your empty bobbins (with leaders on) and write the weight on them, thusly:

[weighing empty bobbin; note weight written on it]

Then, spin your roving. All of it. Don't worry about how full the bobbin is, just fill 'er up. When it's full, start on a new (previously weighed) bobbin.

When you're finished spinning, weigh your now-full bobbins. Subtract each one's "empty weight" and you'll know how much yarn is on it.

Total that up, and divide by the number of plies you're planning (example: 4 if you're making 4-ply yarn). This is how much (by weight) should be distributed to each bobbin. Now comes the tricksy part: rewinding.

I use a hand-drill with a chopstick in the drill bit as a rewinding tool. Pop on an empty (weighed) bobbin, and wind on singles, weighing the filling bobbin periodically to make sure you get the right amount of singles onto it. Repeat for each plying bobbin. With an accurate scale, you should be able to get the same amount of yardage on each bobbin to within a few meters! One other advantage to rewinding bobbins is that you get much more even plying - the rewinding ensures more even unwinding and helps to control "pigtails".

I've managed to reduce my waste to a few meters at most. Woohoo!


  1. I use an old fashioned see saw balance, put part filled bobbins on, then add fleece to whichever side is lighter till they balance, spin this fleece onto lighter bobbin and they match. Alternatively Andean ply any leftover yarn (though thus changes colour repeats etc)

    1. That's a good idea too! My scale isn't big enough to put fluff on...

      Andean plying works well if one is making 2-ply (and cable-plied) yarns...but it won't work for 3-ply or higher. In a pinch you can chain-ply (Navajo ply) leftover singles for 3-ply, but that'll change your colour sequencing (so I don't do it if I am spinning dyed fleece).

  2. Wow, well done. I usually just Navajo ply my left over singles and make an 'art yarn' type thing for teaching kids to knit or sometimes I make a felted square out of it for a coaster (if it's pretty enough). I make yarn that is 13 wpi and useful for sweaters and such.