Archives for posts with tag: spinning

Spinzilla was so much fun. It was also quite a personal challenge. Spin as much as you can for a week, doesn’t sound hard, does it? It wasn’t, but it did require some plotting and scheming. Life keeps throwing distractions at you, however, it was Spinzilla week—nothing could be allowed to interfere! It was a whole week of spin, spin, and better spin some more. It was just wonderful.

Now that we are seriously planning Spinzlla year two, I am looking back to see what worked and what didn’t. I can see where I made some mistakes. So here are 5 things I will NOT do during Spinzilla 2014.

1. Don’t have a house guest! Please understand, she was a lovely guest, but, poor thing, she saw nothing but my spinning wheel go round. I was a terrible host and I felt really guilty. Not guilty enough to stop spinning, mind you. It cut into my spinning time since I had to get up occasionally to point to where stuff was. Here is the food! Towels? They are in the linen closet. I mean; where would they be? Sheesh.

Yarn drying in Captain Constance's Garden

Yarn drying in Captain Constance’s Garden.

2. Don’t work in the garden! Gardens here in Ohio are at full harvest in September. I tried to keep up—tons of tomatoes, beans, peppers, all the things I worked so hard to keep alive all summer were ready to pick and be preserved, all during Spinzilla week. I am spinning here! Can’t you see I don’t have time for picking, weeding, and watering. I do have time for eating though. Thanks to my wonderful husband for feeding me all week.

3. Don’t sleep! I took too much time for sleep. Going to bed is overrated anyway. If I could just sleep every OTHER night, that would really improve my yardage. Getting up and getting going in the morning takes too long. So get up, spin all day, all night, all the next day, then go to bed. Sounds like a smart plan. Don’t try this at home. It is only for crash dummies.

4. Don’t leave the house during the week! I thought I could spin on my tiny Kuchulu spindle in the car and at the Dentist office. This was not a good plan. Stop sign stops don’t last long enough. Stop lights are more promising but it depends on when you get there. By the time I got my spindle out the light would change. I live in out in the boonies so there are no traffic jams to provide real spinning time. The dentist office visit would have been the best chance for real yardage but there were too many people asking me questions. I am on a serious mission here, no time for answering the incredulous question of “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Are you weaving?

5. Don’t choose to spin camel! It seemed like a good idea at the time. Camel is short and it is spun woolen. Long draw seems so fast—you fill bobbin after bobbin. There were two problems with this choice. First, it really easier if it is plyed AND finished to be safely skeined up and measured. The second issue is that hours and days of long draw can do a bit of damage to a shoulder. Don’t worry though. It’s almost healed. A few more weeks and my shoulder will be just fine . . . just about time to start practicing and getting into shape for Spinzilla 2014. Maybe I will spin up that lovely Corriedale fleece I have stashed? No, maybe that long beautiful Lincoln I bought at the fiber show last summer or the Angora I got at my fiber circle. OHHHH I can’t wait! Spinzilla 2014, here I come!

—Constance Hall, Dyeology
Team Captain Coordinator
How we spin when we get together.

Spinners gather at Yarn Hollow for social spinning.

As we saw in 2013’s Spinzilla, Team Fancy Tiger, the winning team, was very strategic in their Spinzilla week event preparation.

Every night during Spinzilla week, they offered team members a 20% discount on fiber.  They offered measuring assistance so that spinners could spend their time spinning and not winding off. Each day they had a different challenge with prizes to keep their spinners interest up. Rumor has it that adult beverages were provided, to help relax the spinners as they spun their way to the championship!

All that good fun came with good preparation! Now is the time to think about planning events for your business to help grow your spinning customer’s skills set, both to help them spin to their heart’s out in Spinzilla 2014, but also because spinners are looking for more opportunities to expand their skill set!

According to Hart Business Research in the State of Specialty NeedleArts Survey (2013), 42% of spinners questioned said that lack of knowledge has kept them from doing the projects that they would like, not lack of time! 42% also said they would prefer to learn new techniques in an in-person class, and 51% of spinners responded they prefer to have technique-based classes. This information sounds like a great number of spinners are looking to increase specific skills and have time to learn!

(If you’re looking for more information about the data in the State of Specialty NeedleArts Survey, go to the TNNA website and login with your member ID and password to see the full results. The business tools are particularly useful as they break down the data into actionable plans. There is a wealth of information in the survey that can provide you with loads of ideas!)

Think about what classes or events that would be beneficial to host. If this seems overwhelming, consider incorporating a casual peer-to-peer learning experience during a spinning night.These ideas are also applicable for virtual meet-ups.

facebook events

In the Yarn Hollow Studio calendar, we have events scheduled for March through May. We are gatherings idea for the Summer awaiting the summer camp dates to schedule. An “event” as opposed to a “class” is open to anyone. These events all have a Spinzilla theme, but they apply to any spinner.

Here is the plan:

March Measuring yarn on bobbins! Spinners will compare the weighing-bobbins method to the actual yardage measured via a niddy noddy or yarn winder. The spinner who is closest wins a prize!

April Refreshing your fiber! This will focus on ways to bring back compacted fiber back to life.

May Make your own niddy noddy and other fiber tools.  I’ll have recipes for how to make your own and reasons why you might and might not want to do so!

June Fiber prep from washing to picking and carding.

Raw fiber and combs

Other options for classes could be a long-draw vs. short draw race; time trials using different drafting techniques; how to ply for fast, even, and quality results; making mini rollags (all the rage, and sooooo cute!); fiber prep from fleece to rollag. The options are endless! Take a look at last year’s Spinzilla Blog Tour entries that focused on techniques to get a lot of spinning done, quickly! Use these blog posts to glean ideas about events to host. Spinners, if you have ideas for your LSS about what would help you be a better spinner, share them! I’m sure they would be glad to hear from you.

For promoting these events, we’re publishing them on the Yarn Hollow facebook page, on ravelry, through the newsletter, and the webpage. It’s a lot of work to get the news out there, but a bit of advanced scheduling will make the work pay off in the long run. The more your spinning customers participate, the more they will learn! The more they learn, the more proficient a spinner they will become, and the more they will spin!

Now is the time to plan to make the most of Spinzilla experience.  If you are interested in hosting a team, e-mail us at and include the following information: business name, e-mail, physical address, mailing address, website, phone number, and your TNNA member ID.  We can make sure that you are all set to register on May 5  when team registration opens.

Happy Spinning,

Rita Petteys, Yarn Hollow
Chair and Logistics, Spinzilla 2014
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

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.