Grandma Knitty Home
Knitty: little purls of wisdom
what's the editor up to lately?feature articlesKnitty's generous selection of patternsKnittyspinşarchive of previous issuesMeet other Knitty readers and chat in our coffeeshop!sign up for the free Knitty newsletterLooking for an ad fromone of our advertisers? Click here!Our tiny, perfect online shopping mallGet yourself a little Knitty treat!read the behind-the-scenes news at Knitty

Find exactly what you're looking for

The answer to your question about Knitty is probably here!

Take home something Knitty today

Advertise with Knitty

Get your cool stuff reviewed in Knitty

Full information about how  to get published in Knitty

Read exactly what FREE PATTERNS really means...respect our designers and authors rights [and thank you]

Knitty is produced in a pro-rabbit environment

© Knitty 2002-2007. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited. This means you.


< click for more!
Journey Wheel

Contemplating spinning for a sweater? Seems like such a huge project and you’re not sure you can do it?  You can do it and it’s not as big as it seems. I’m going to go over some tips and tricks to get you going and on your way to having a handspun sweater.  No, you don’t have to have a wheel, you can do this on a spindle.

The Card
Get a piece of paper or a card to make notes on.
If you are trying to duplicate a certain yarn, cut a couple of inches and tape it to your paper.  Then spin a sample, this way you have an idea of the single you need to spin (if you’re doing a plied yarn). A sample doesn’t need to be an ounce or anything like that. It can be a few yards just so you can ply it and cut a piece to save on your card.  Make sure to label everything clearly.

This is the most structured thing you’ll do to work up your sweater yarn and it’s pretty essential to the project. Even if you’re going to sit down and spin the whole sweater at once, it’s good to have this card. The reason for the card is so that every so often, you are going to grab it and check it against the yarn you are currently spinning. If you are taking a few days to spin the yarn or a few months (or years), this card will help you keep the yarn consistently spun. This way you can work at having the same thickness yarn throughout the sweater.

For some sweaters, consistent thickness might not matter too much. But you really don’t want to start knitting with a sport weight and finish up with a bulky.  If you hand dyed the roving, you can save that information on the card as well.

The Prep
Prepare all your wool before you start to spin. If you have roving, pre-draft it all. This way you know that it’s all drafted in the same way. Pre-drafting makes a huge difference in the finished yarn.  This makes it easy on yourself.  If you are carding your wool, do it all at once. Especially if you’re blending.  This will also help to make sure it's all even.

If you are using hand-dyed fibers, it’s good to have it all prepped first. Dyed fibers have variances and if you prep it all at once, you can make sure one bobbin won’t have too much of one color and none of another (unless that’s what you want).  Prepping first will help you make sure your colors are even throughout.

There is also something very pleasing about having a large basket full of fiber ready to go whenever you have time to spin.

If you really want to do the prep in different sittings, and are ok if the colors might get heavy in some places, write it on your card.  Add a sample of the blend or roving and write notes. You’ll thank yourself later.

Number your yarns in the order that you spin them. I make the little tabs before I start to spin so they’re handy when I wind off a cop or a take off a bobbin.  I do this because yarn from the first and last bobbin/cop can be very different from each other. Then when I ply, the first and last yarns are plied together, then the second and next-to last-together, and so on in this fashion. It helps to even out the yarn.

This is most important if you plan on doing the first bobbin in 2007 and the last one in 2008. Or even if you don’t plan on it, but you know, life happens. Number your yarns.

Many of us don’t have enough bobbins or spindles to have all this yarn sitting on them waiting for finishing.

So wind your yarn off as you go! Cakes of yarn are easier to stack or store.

This is particularly handy if you’re prone to start several smaller projects in between doing a larger one like I do.







However you have decided is best, go for it. The plied sample on your card is your master, so just match your work to it from time to time. I keep my sample unfinished [that is, I don’t soak and set the twist]. Yarn changes a bit after you set the twist, so if you try to match a yarn that has already been set when you're spinning, you won’t get an accurate yarn.

If you notice my card, you’ll see the goal yarn is a little thicker than the plied sample I have. I tested a piece of that plied sample by setting the twist. This piece matched up with my goal yarn so I know that what I spun is just what I want.

There you go! Your yarn is done, the twist has been set and you are ready to start knitting!


Amy King is a Crazy Homeschooling mom by day. Whacked out dye maven by night.

All her exploits can be found here.