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Spinzilla 3--angry

Something big is happening!

Raroowwrrr! The Monster of a spinning week is almost here and it is shaping up to be that! (The committee has quoted Jaws more than once, “We are going to need a bigger boat!”) Thank you for joining us for our inaugural year and the overwhelmingly positive response. Go, spinners, go!

Now that the spinning is upon us, a lot of us are turning our attention to the meat of the matter—spinning, measuring, and submitting our yarn. This is a friendly competition. The goal is to spin oodles of yarn and have fun. That said, we know there are bragging rights and prizes on the line!

Let’s revisit the goal of the event. Spinzilla has four objectives.

  • Collectively spin as much yarn as possible during Spinning and Weaving Week
  • Raise awareness of hand spinning in the yarn market and beyond
  • Increase spinning confidence and knowledge
  • Establish a spinning component within the Needle Arts Mentoring Program (NAMP)

With this in mind, here are answers to the frequently asked questions that we have been fielding about what qualifies as spinning, how to measure your yarn, and how to submit it at the end of the week.

When can I start spinning?

Spin time begins at midnight EST on Monday, October 7 and ends at Midnight EST on Sunday, October 13. (Midnight on October 7 means the dawning of the day on Monday. Monday is a spinning day!)

How much prep can I do ahead of time?

You can do anything but spin! Any kind of prep work is fine including pre-drafting.

What about core spun yarn?

As long as you count the finished yarn as a single not a plied yarn, core spinning is fine.

Can I ply my yarn?

If you want to take the time to ply your yarn, that is AOK with us! You have to submit your yardage in singles. Measure your plied yarn and multiply the yardage by the number of plies. Chain ply counts as 3-ply


Team Captain Herder Constance Hall of Dyeology built a giant niddy noddy to measure her Spinzilla yarn!

How do I measure my yarn?

Spinzilla spinners are made of brand new spinners and seasoned pros. We appreciate the mentoring that you have been giving each other. What we are asking for is that everyone take their best shot at measuring their yarn! For some, this will be their first time measuring yarn and we encourage you to use any method that works best for you.

  • Wind onto a skien winder or swift where you know the circumference and count turns
  • Use a niddy noddy
  • Use a yardage counter with a reels or swift
  • Using a McMorran yarn balance, or the new Yarn to Yards balance
  • If you don’t want to take your yarn off your bobbins, weigh your bobbins before you spin, then weight them after and use a yarn balance to calculate yardage.
  • Measure the distance around your car, then give it to a 10-year old and tell them to run around the car until it is all gone. Count the number of times they run past you. You get the idea!

Here are links to a few of resources that can help you learn more about measuring:

Free ebook from Handwoven, includes how to make your own yarn balance.

Measuring Yarn by Amy Clarke Moore, editor of Spin-Off

Finishing Yarn a Knitty article by Lee Juvan includes making your own kate, video on using a niddy-noddy, and step-by-step on using a reel

There has been talk that yarn balances are inaccurate, if this is true is there one method that is better than another?

Any method can give you inaccurate results depending on your technique. We have stopped short of endorsing one method over another and have offered suggestions for as many accessible methods as possible. Practice with a skein of commercial yarn that you know the weight and length. Once you are comfortable with your results, we will be also! 

Won’t tension make a difference?

Yes it can. We suggest that you measure your yarn under moderate tension for the best results.

I am curious if I could avoid purchasing the balance by weighing my bobbins first, spin the yarn, measure out a few yards, get the weight of those yards, weight my bobbin with yarn, subtract the bobbin weight, and calculate how many yards I spun?

That is a great way to get the job done! You will still need a digital scale. Here is how that would work. Say your bobbin weights 5oz without yarn and 10oz with. Measure out 5 yards of that yarn and weight it on a digital scale—you may have to measure out more than 5 yards to get enough weight for the scale to register the yarn.

Here is a hypothetical example (thanks HsailorMoon!)

I have 5 oz of yarn (bobbin weight – bobbin and yarn weight).

5 yards of this yarn weights .25oz

5 oz divided by .25 = 20

20 x 5 = 100 yards

Does my yarn have to be finished and if so what does that mean?

Your yarn does not have to be washed, steamed, or set in any other way. Our goal is to gauge the amount of spinning that happens during the week. To the moon!

How Do I Submit My Yarn to My Team Captain?

Please make sure that you have your Team Captain’s Email address – if you don’t know it, please contact them to get it. You need to have this handy for submitting your yardage – don’t wait until the last minute to get it lined up!

To submit your Spinzilla yardage follow these steps

  • Measure your spun singles
  • Take a photo of your yarn. Please submit only one image file for your photos – the image file may contain multiple photos – i.e., you can create a collage in a photo editor program with multiple pictures in it; it is important, though that you only submit one image file, for the sake of managing the information. We will be posting your yarn on Pinterest and other Spinzilla social media sites.
  • If possible, please rename your photo with your last name, team name, and total yardage of the yarn in the photo. For example, Spinner Jane Doe on Team Spinning Mavens would rename her photo or photo collage file something like this:

Labeled Spinzilla Photo

  • Email your yardage and photos to your team captain by MIDNIGHT EST Tuesday, October 15, (11 PM CST, 10 PM MST, 9 PM PST). Winners will be announced on Friday, October 18th (we are not saying when yet!)

I am a rogue spinner how do I submit my yarn?

Please follow the same steps as those on a team, Email your photo and information to


As we eagerly anticipate a week of spinning for Spinzilla, there are number of things we can do to get ready. To participate in Spinzilla, we need to spin yarn and then measure it. Most people are likely to choose to spin singles to get the most length out of their spinning time—so the trick is figuring out how to measure your singles accurately.

Spin-Off editor, Amy Clarke Moore, shares a variety of ways to measure your yarn on the Spin-Off Blog.

amy clarke moore

Amy Clarke Moore, editor of Spin-Off Magazine

Jump on over to her Spin-Off blog today and read her full post, “How to Measure Your Yarn for Spinzilla”

Amy’s team at Spin-Off has also been compiling several other posts in honor of the Spinzilla event. Here are a few links:

Spin To Your Wheel’s Efficiency Range

Spinzilla-Ready Set Spin!

Tips For Your Wheel

We are thrilled to announce that we have over 500 spinners signed up for Spinzilla! Thank you to everyone who signed up for a team!

This week, our guest blogging tour continues with Sarah Anderson, author of “The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs”. Sarah generously offered to blog about Twist and Singles for our Spinzilla fans. Her blog will appear on on September 25th, 2013. Here is a little snippet of what she’ll be covering:

Sarah Anderson’s blog post about “Twist and Singles” brings to you the concept of weaving (or knitting) with singles that have active twist. It covers a bit about twist and how to size your singles with xanthan gum to contain the twist before using the yarn.

sarahandersonSarah’s new book, “The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs” is available here on Amazon and is getting some RAVE 5-star reviews!

“Discover the fun and satisfaction of spinning your own yarn! This step-by-step guide shows you how to create 80 distinctive yarns, from classics such as mohair boucle to novelty features like supercoils. Lush photographs illustrate the process of turning fleece into yarn, reveal the unique architecture of each yarn, and show exactly how to manipulate and combine fibers to get the results you want. With this must-have reference, you can create any yarn you desire.”

Are you ready to spin! We can’t wait to see all of your yarn. After all of your hard work you will be eager to show off your work with photos of your beautiful handspun yarns? A poorly lit, out-of-focus photo isn’t going to do justice to your hard work. Here are a few tips to help you take great photos.  Included are tips on how to pin your photos on Pinterest and share it with the Spinzilla community and beyond.

Anyone can take a great photo with the equipment they have available. We took all of these photos with an iPhone 5 with no fancy studio equipment.

1. Natural lighting is your friend! This photo was taken under dingy indoor lighting, and let’s face it, it’s not a great photo. The multiple light sources has created weird shadows, and the iphone just can’t seem to focus in such poor lighting.


2. The light should be behind you, not in front of the camera. In the first photo the yarn is in front of a sliding glass door, so that the yarn is mostly in shadow, and you can’t see the color very well.


In this photo the light is shining onto the yarn, allowing it to glow in natural light.  But since we’re directly in front of the window the phone itself is casting a bit of a shadow. Indirect sunlight is what you’re looking for!


3. Choose your background carefully. The color of your background might change the way that the color of your yarn looks in photos.

In this first photo the yarn looks more green, because of the red background.


In this photo the yarn looks yellow.


This photo portrays the true color of the yarn. It’s placed on a white background in a room with multiple windows, so that the light isn’t shining brightly from one direction, but softly from all directions. The white background also helps to reflect the light, brightening the photo. However the photo is still a little dull, and we can do better.


Go outside! Finally, just took the phone and a pad of paper outside, and voila the photo is in focus, the colors are vibrant, and you have a photo that really shows off your yarn! Cloudy days are best for photos, or try finding shade under a tree, or on your porch, or just wait until dusk.


Pin your photos! 

Share your photos with the world! (Or at least those in the world on Pinterest.) Pin your photos to your board or send them to your captain if your team’s business has a board. Use the designated hasthag for Spinzilla (#Spinzilla) and put that in the description of your image.  We’ll repin those posts for the event on the Spinzilla Pinterest board!

Still a bit fuzzy on how to pin? Here is a step-by-step tutorial. To post your photos go to your Pinterest page, and select which board you’d like to pin your photo too, then click “add pin”


*Choose Upload from computer


Find your file on your computer


Tell the world about your yarn, use #Spinzilla in the description, click pin, and repeat from *


Our Spinzilla Blog Tour continues this week with an installment from Beth Smith, owner of the Spinning Loft, Teacher and Spinning Diva. Pop over to her blog “Beth Smith Spinning” on September 18th, 2013 to read her full posting on “Fiber Prep for production Spinning”. 

Here is a little preview– let’s just say we’re pre-drafting Beth’s fiber blog here and you have to go to her website to get the full yarn!

    It's no secret.... Beth's favorite fiber is WOOL...

It’s no secret…. Beth’s favorite fiber is WOOL…

I’m here to talk about fiber prep to help you spin a little faster. Since most of you will be spinning from fiber that has been prepped for you in advance we will start there and then move on to talking about spinning quickly from raw fleece.

Woolen spinning– in other words some form of long draw– will surely get you where you want to go faster in most cases than short forward draw but this can be somewhat of a problem since most processed fiber available on the market today is in the form of top. This means that the fibers are all aligned and prettily arranged. Due to this arrangement they can sometimes be difficult to draft with the twist in the fiber supply which is required for a good, fast long draw.

So let’s talk about what we can do to avoid issues like twist lock when we are spinning top.  GO TO BETH’S BLOG TO READ MORE……

Our Spinzilla teams are growing but there is STILL ROOM on several teams for you to join in the fun and games. Visit our website to register today!

Our guest blogger’s job is to inspire you to get ready for lots of spinning during spinning and weaving week!  Please share them with your friends and tell them that you are spinning for Spinzilla!  We have blog buttons and other graphics available on our website.   There are still open spots.  Encourage your friends to join in on the fun!

For our next Blog Tour post, we’re popping over to the blog of Felicia Lo, owner of SweetGeorgia Yarns, teacher and maker of magical color in yarns and fiber. Felicia will be blogging about using hand dyed yarn in your spinning. Here is a small teaser of what you can read about on her blog, today–September 11, 2013:

There is a magic about handspun yarn from hand-dyed fibre. The way each colour morphs and blends into the next in a single, and how the colours are scattered and recombined through plying. It’s for spinners who love and appreciate all the fine details of how the colours transform between your fingers. But the beauty of a hand-dyed fiber can be intimidating to spinners who feel like they might “ruin it”.

I’d like to suggest some ideas of how you can approach that beautiful braid of hand-dyed fibre… something beyond spinning it from end to end. And perhaps one of your SpinZilla challenges can be spinning a hand-dyed fibre in a way you had never imagined before.

sweet georgia photo



We also would like to use this space to thank all of our generous sponsors who have donated prizes for Spinzilla.

Join us this Saturday September 7th for our next scheduled podcast with Spinzilla Chairwoman and owner of Yarn Hollow, Rita Petteys and Kathy Elkins, owner of WEBS in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Rita will be chatting with Kathy about our inaugural event! Kathy’s podcast, Ready, Set, Knit is a regularly published podcast for the WEBS audience. We’re thrilled that she’s been so generous in helping us spread the word about Spinzilla. Tune in and then get ready to SPIN!


Rita Petteys, Chairwoman of Spinzilla and owner of Yarn Hollow

Kathy Elkins, owner of WEBS.

Kathy Elkins, owner of WEBS.

We have nearly 200 spinners signed up and ready to spin for Spinzilla 2013. Consider joining the fun, win prizes, and help mentor the next generation of spinners. There are lots of teams with available spaces! Check out open teams here.  Don’t be shy!  They need you. If you are already signed up for a team, recruit a friend!  To keep up on up-to-the minute information like our Facebook page.

This week, we have the pleasure of hosting spinner extraordinaire and sheep breed expert, Deb Robson to our Spinzilla guest blog tour. Deb took a mini break from writing her next book, “Dreaming of Shetland”  to answer some questions for Spinzilla about sheep breeds that produce wool that is EASY and FAST to spin!

Here is a teaser snippet of what Deb’s blog will cover:

  • What wools are good for experienced spinners to spin quickly?
  • What wools are good for beginning spinners to learn on?

Deb robson

The breeds I’m about to suggest share the following characteristics, for the most part (some individual fleeces from these breeds will go outside these ranges)


  • fiber lengths in the vicinity of 4 inches (10 cm), more or less (around 3 to max 6 inches, 7.5 to 15 cm)

  • moderate fiber diameters (nothing too delicate or too wiry-strong, I’m talking 28 to 37 microns, more or less, although you won’t have that information handy; just trust that the breeds I’m going to mention are in that ballpark)

  • moderate crimp (since a little elasticity is a good thing in this case, and a lot of it can be more demanding)

  • open staples (even when you’re starting with processed wool and won’t see this directly, as in top or roving, this quality ends up making a difference)


In the 1970s, when spinning was being “rediscovered” by a bunch of us, there was something called “wool for handspinning” which fit that description. That was before spinners had “rediscovered” that they could spin just about any fiber that came down the line, if they wanted to, and so now, if you want to be accurate, just about any wool is “wool for handspinning” (the felted stuff—not so much; otherwise—fair game). The “suitable for handspinners” label, smelling faintly of mothballs, does still sometimes show up in descriptions of wools.


But there’s something to that package of qualities. These are wools that beg to be spun by hand, without requiring much of the spinner. If you’re new to the wheel or spindle, they’ll support your efforts. If you’re experienced, you’ll be able to crank your equipment to the max and stay relaxed.

Get the FULL answers by reading Deb’s blog post on September 4th, 2013 her site:

AND, look for Deb’s new book “Dreaming of Shetland”


We are thrilled to have our first guest blogger, Jillian Moreno, blogging about Spinzilla on her site, Visit her blog today (August 27th, 2013) to learn more about Jillian’s love of spinning and her thoughts on creating a yarn vision…

Here is just a teaser of what she’ll be talking about!

(Be sure to sign up for the Spinzilla newsletter going out today featuring two other guest bloggers and popular teachers, Sarah Anderson and Beth Smith.  We asked them how they got started spinning.)

Creating a Yarn Vision by Jillian Moreno

When you sit at your wheel tojillianKSeditor create yarn do you know what you want to spin? If you are spinning for something other than just the spin of it, do you know how to get there? Can you see the finished yarn in your mind’s eye, feel it running through your hands as you knit? Can you see the finished project beautifully created from your yarn?

Taking time to really describe the yarn you want to use can be the make or break difference in loving your final yarn and project.

When I express all of the details of a future yarn I call it a Yarn Vision. I do it when I am spinning for a specific project and I do it just to stretch my creativity in spinning.

knittyblog image



Here are some of the most recent questions asked on our Facebook page and Ravelry Group this week!

How do I know if a team is still open?

If you register for Spinzilla, the available teams will appear on the registration form. Closed teams are listed but you cannot select them.

How do Captains know who and how many spinners have registered for our team?

Our team coordinator, Constance, will email a full list of registered spinners in late September (possibly sooner.)

Do I have to use either a spindle or a wheel? What about an electric spinner; I have mobility issues?

The choice is yours, spinning is spinning!

I like to Navajo (or chain) ply, how do I measure that yardage?

This is what you can do. You spin all week, like crazy. You can spin singles, you can ply, you can chain ply. Plied length is measured and then doubled if it is a two ply. The measurement is how long the single is. So a two ply is two singles and a three ply is three singles. Chain ply is three ply so the measurement is times three. If you are measuring plied yarn it has to be plied during the week.

Then, as soon as Spinzilla is over, you measure. You can use a counter, you can use a niddy noddy, you can use a skein winder, you can use a McMorran balance type thing. Then you send your fearless team leader the total and you post a picture of what you have spun. On Ravelry for sure but also on the pinterest board, if possible

See ALL the FAQ’s about Spinzilla on our website here.

Clarke, Ben--Spinzilla flipped

The original artwork for the Spinzilla logo drawn by Ben Clarke

A year ago Constance Hall and Liz Gipson were sitting on Constance’s backwood’s porch the day before The National Needlearts Association (TNNA) 2012 summer trade show was to start. What could the Spinning and Weaving Group (SWG) do to make some noise?

That conversation was taken to SWG’s meeting and ideas were bandied about. Claudia Segal agreed to chair a committee to explore the concept and Spinzilla was born. There are many, many others who played a role in making this event come to life and our heartfelt thanks goes out to everyone who said, “yeah, I can do that.” You can see the list of current committee members here. Scroll to “Who is organizing Spinzilla.”

Spinning a ton of yarn was a fun idea in itself, but it needed purpose. We wanted to spin for a reason. For years, various businesses within SWG had fielded requests from educators for fiber and equipment to teach spinning. There were more requests than any one business could manage and before the formerly independent Spinning and Weaving Association merged with TNNA there wasn’t really a mechanism to field these requests.

The Needle Arts Mentoring Program

It was after the merger that we learned about The Needle Arts Mentoring Program (NAMP), a project of the Helping Hands Foundation. The mission of NAMP is to create community partnerships that promote and encourage relationships between adults and youth, fostering curiosity, creativity and a feeling of achievement through the teaching of needle arts. Educators—school teachers, after school programs, 4-H clubs, and the like—may request a small package of needle arts supplies to support their programs.

The Spinzilla registration fee of $10 will go to NAMP. The money will be used to provide CD spindles, fiber, and a how-to brochure to educators who request them, to support the administration work it takes to manage the program, and to advertise their availability. Our goal would be to have the spinning component fully up and running in the fall.  Stay tuned for more details about how to request materials.

Spinzilla is a perfect vehicle to ensure that we can foster the spinners of tomorrow today. Thanks so much for being a part of it. We hope you will spin your heart out for your team, for yourself, and for the spinners of tomorrow.

Rita Petteys, Spinzilla Chair