Spinner Central

Monday night is “Spinner Central” at my local yarn store, Natural Stitches. It’s a time when local spinners can bring their wheels and spindles and sit around and chat while they spin. We usually bring projects we’ve been working on for Show and Tell. Who says you have to be in grade school to do that? For me, I love getting together with people whose interests are so varied, yet we all have working with fiber in common.

What we talk about varies depending on who’s there. But it might be what’s been happening on our favorite TV series (Game of Thrones is popular), or new movies we want to see. We also “talk shop” about the fibers we’re spinning or new tools we want to acquire (you can never have too much of either). It’s informal but always enjoyable. We even let knitters come, too.

I’ve been going for about two years, and during that time we’ve had a few monthly challenges. One month, we challenged ourselves to spin enough yarnIMG_0211 to make a sweater. Here’s the result of my month.IMG_0214

Then, last summer, we decided to spin enough yarn to make socks.IMG_0229

I was spinning a lot of cotton for the first time, and here’s the yarn I made and the socks I knit.IMG_0231

This month, the challenge is to spin a crepe yarn, which I learned last night was taking two highly-twisted yarns (one a 2-ply yarn and one a singles yarn). Instead of doing that, I made a cabled yarn by taking a 2-ply yarn I had just finished spinning and twisted them together to form a 4-ply yarn. What makes it special is that the twist direction changes as you construct the yarn.IMG_2002

In technical terms, you spin 4 separate singles yarns (what non-plied yarn is called). Then you ply two to make…wait for it… a 2-ply yarn by spinning two strands of singles in the other direction from how the singles were spun. You need to spin the heck out of these so they are really over twisted. Then, you take the two 2-ply yarns and spin them together in the opposite direction than you spun them when you were plying. Voila, a cable yarn is born. Not exactly what the challenge was, but it’s based on exactly the same principle. It looks a little like braided rope. Glad I did it, just to see what it was like.

Our little spinning group also participates in a couple of national/global challenges. One is called “Tour de Fleece”, based in the annual three-week bicycle race through France. Each day of the race, you spin towards goals that you set for the whole time. There are extra challenges along the way that coincide with the more challenging stages of the race. I think I’ll try to do that this year. I’m already a big fan of watching the race each day. It would be perfect to watch and also spin. But how will I see the beautiful countryside and spin at the same time? I’ll let you know.

The other challenge is a global one called Spinzilla. This is an all-out sprint over the course of one week, where the entire goal is to spin as many yards of fiber as you can. You pay a modest fee to the national organization with those fees going to help support programs teaching fiber arts to kids in various communities. At the end of the week, you measure how many yards you’ve spun, take a picture of your work and submit the picture to the organization. There are prizes for various categories, like the most yards spun, and teams you can join, or you can be a rogue spinner and spin on your own. They say:

“In [the] two years [the events has existed] Spinzilla spinners have collectively made (spun) over 5 million yards of yarn and raised nearly $20,000 for youth craft education.”

13,747 yards were spun by the 2014 Rogue Spinner Champion. That’s in one week of spinning! Last year, I spun more than a mile (actually about 2,000 yards), to make the “Monster Mile”. Our team, “Team Dyed in the Wool/Natural Stitches” spun 58,656.55 yards. Amazing!

Spinner Central is great fun, and I’m always inspired by these talented folks. Can’t wait until the next time.

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