Kiss My Kate

I fell in love at Black Sheep Gathering. Okay, me and everybody else there. There was something for absolutely every stripe of fiber artist! But my new old favorite thing this year is drop-spindling. Drop spindling is the perfect activity for keeping your hands occupied, while your brain and eyes are doing other things. Standing in the market booth, welcoming shoppers and answering questions, my spindle was the perfect accompaniment.

For the uninitiated, drop-spindling is the humble art of making string with the very simplest and most elegant of tools. First, you get some roving. This is a gorgeous silk & Polwarth blend from (where else?) Abstract Fiber, in the singular "Red".


Then, grab your favorite spindle. The one on top is my favorite go-to from Spindlewood. It's a square top-whorl, made from Birdseye Maple, and weighs a little under an ounce. I knew when I packed it that I'd be drop spindling at BSG, but not what fiber, so I chose this one because it's really versatile. I especially love it because when I need to stop spinning, I can lay it anywhere without it rolling away onto the floor.

Once I got to the gathering, I promptly filled it up to the point where the added weight of the singles made it too heavy to spin the fiber as fine as I wanted. So I had to decide what to do: Either wind the singles off onto something else (fiddly) or into a ball (harder than it seems), or stop spinning (Please! ). I could also have chosen to Navaho (chain) ply the singles, but I really wanted to make a nice smooth 2-ply yarn. Either way, the real problem was that I had no way to support the spindle in order to move the singles off. And then it hit me, as I stood at Ground Zero of Handspinning, that I could just buy another spindle and figure out how to move the singles later. 

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Duh. So I popped on over to the Spindlewood booth, where I found a beautiful sister to my maple one: It's Zebrawood, and weighs just the same. But of course, I filled that one up, as well. So with two full spindles, I was ready to make 2-ply yarn, but, with no way to hold the spindles, I was going to have (a lot of) trouble plying. At which point, I remembered again that I was in the Black Sheep Gathering Marketplace. And with almost no effort at all, I found my new favorite toy: A tensioned spindle Kate!

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This one holds up to three spindles, so you could make 3-ply yarn with it as well. I parked my full spindles in it as shown. The cotton cord you see acts as a brake to tension the spindles as you ply (no backlash)! Then I just plied onto a third, larger spindle (in my hand), to get this:

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Gorgeous, lighter-than-air, 2-ply laceweight. My 2 full spindles yielded 133 yards of finished yarn, without ever having to move the full cops. So sexy! 

Phillip Trifiro of Trif's Turnings makes the fabulous spindle Kate in your choice of woods, to hold 3 or 5 spindles. He told me he could also make Kates to accommodate as few as 2, or as many as 7 (!) spindles, on request.

By eliminating the need to remove the spun singles from my spindles in order to ply them, Trif's Kate has allowed me to fall back in love with my spindle collection. The tension brake on the Kate works perfectly, preventing backlashes and tangling. The brass swivels hold the spindle hooks securely and spin smoothly, too. I plied my 133 yards in under an hour, while stopping to help customers as often as needed.

Now I'm inspired to take my beautiful spindles with me wherever I go, knowing how easy it is to make yarn from them. Especially in the heat of summer, when knitting can be too hot in my lap, drop-spindling is just the ticket to keep me entertained (never easy).

Thank you, Gina

Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful Cormo Ewe named Gina.  She gave me her fleece a couple of Springs ago, and I've never been the same since.

Yesterday I finished spinning all my Gina's fleece.  It feels like at the finish of a really good book.  I knew it would be over soon, but I still wasn't really ready.  Now I'm not quite sure what to do with myself.  Not that I have any shortage of projects, you understand; it's quite the opposite.  I'm just a little melancholy that this one is finished.


Of course, it's not as if I don't still have the yarn, though.  There are 2,774 yards of it here.  And naturally, I'm thinking about what I'll knit from it.  But I will miss the spinning.

Good thing I have plans to learn more about Aran knitting...

I can't believe it's mine (all mine!).  How many blissful hours I've spent with it already.  How often I've petted it and squished it and imagined what it might become.  It really is true that spinners who knit get to play with their wool twice. 

Of all God's creatures who give us their best, there must be a very special place in heaven for the sheep.  Gina, especially.


Yesterday, Campbell and I rode our bikes together.  We had so much fun that we didn't figure out until after getting home that we had ridden over six miles.  That's a really big deal for me, not having been farther than a few blocks from home before now.

Later in the day, I challenged him to add up all the yardage on my Cormo spinning project:  1,706 yards, so far.  Then I asked him to look up how many yards are in a mile (bonus points if you already know it's 1,760).  

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Which means that I'm exactly 54 yards away from having spun a MILE of Cormo yarn.  We're not going to talk about how much fleece there still is left to spin, but it's looking like Cam and I could have matching sweaters.