Knittyspin: You like yarn, so make yarn
Storey Publishing

Taking the Measure: The Kit
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In spinning, there are lots of things that can be measured. Some spinners have as many statistics for their fiber and yarn as die-hard baseball fans.

Some just measure yardage, some not even that. I am not a big person for measuring and math; I'm sure I'll remember, sure I'll be able to replicate any yarn I've spun in the past. Yeah, right!

I've learned the hard way (over and over again) that it is indeed a good idea to measure and keep track. If I have any inkling at all, any little flutter of desires of big yardage, or if I think I may want to spin this yarn again or use it for a pattern and other spinner may want to spin this yarn, I will measure as many things as I can.

In order to measure any or many of the aspects of yarn the first thing you need is a tool kit. I love tools, all of the tools, discovering new tools and figuring exactly the best way to use them. You see I have a special love for tools I find at office supply stores. Here's a breakdown of what measuring tools I have and how I use them.

Here are 28 tools I use for measuring yarn and how I use them.

By no means is this an exhaustive list and many of the tools here can do double and triple duty.
I use them at different times, depending on which bag I grab.

This is a good starting place to make your own yarn measuring kits. I am constantly adding to mine.

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Schacht bobbin winder, clips, holes punches and index cards

Bobbin Winder: I would be lost without my bobbin winder. I rarely work a single project from start to finish without starting something else and many times more-than-one something else. I use storage bobbins a lot to free up my wheel bobbins. This bobbin winder is a manual winder from Schacht. There are also electric bobbin winders, attachments for the Hansen eSpinner to use it as a bobbin winder and the wonderful electric drill as a bobbin winder option.

Clothes pins or clips: I use these to clip plyback samples to my wheel or to a card, and to clip a yarn in progress to my wheel when I need to stop spinning.

Hole punch: A regular whole punch or festive whole punch from the scrapbooking section of the craft store gets lots of use making holes in index cards for sample and control yarns.

Index cards: A single index card can hold all of the information for one project yarn. On a thoroughly filled card, I write project, dyer, fiber, colorway, WPI TPI, twist angle for singles and plied yarns. I punch holes down one side to thread actual finished sample yarns. The unfinished yarns I wrap around the card to help match singles while spinning.

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kitchen scale, knitting needles, iSpin Toolkit app and knitting needle gauge.

iSpin tool kit app: This app has been out for a while but I still use it frequently especially when I'm out and about without my other tools. It has tools to measure WPI, twist angle, TPI and several handy spinning references and formulas. I use the WPI and twist angle tool the most.

Kitchen scale: This is probably one of my one pry-it-from-my-cold-dead-hands tools. I use it to weigh tops and rovings that I split before I spin to make sure my pieces are even.

I use it to manage my storage bobbins for plying evenly across several bobbins. Here's what I do: I weigh my empty bobbins; once they are filled I weigh them again. I subtract the bobbin weight from each and match the bobbins that are closest in yarn weight. If I have spun my singles with reasonable consistency when I ply, I will have little to no singles left over.

I use it to determine the yards in a finished skein. I measure 10 yards of finished yarn and weigh it, let's say it weighs .10 oz. I weight my whole finished skein and it's 4 oz. Just a wee bit of math -- 1 oz of this yarn is 100 yards (1 /.10 = 10, 10 x10 yards =100 yards), so 4 oz is 400 yards.

I use it to determine grist or yards per pound of a yarn. Using the same skein, the grist is 1,600 yards per pound.

My scale is an Eatsmart Precision Pro, with an extra large LCD screen.

Knitting needles: I almost always end up knitting with my handspun. More and more, I have incorporated swatching in my measuring routine. Even if it is a postage-stamp-size swatch, it gives me a bit of an idea of what the yarn will be like as knitted fabric. I also use a knitting needle to help myself determine the angle of twist in a yarn by laying a needle on the angle of twist in the yarn and matching it to an angle on my twist angle card.

Knitting needle gauge: The little trick of folding your handspun in half and which size needle hole it barely fits through is the one to start swatching with? Yeah, that one.

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niddy noddies, magnet, measuring tape and magnifying glass

Magnets: Another tool to hold plyback samples or note cards on my wheel while spinning.

Magnifying glass: After I turned 45, my close vision started galloping downhill. I use a magnifying glass more than I'd like to admit to help see when measuring twist angle and twist per inch.

Measuring tape: I use a measuring tape for measuring knitting gauge, for measuring the circumference of an open swift or one round of a niddy noddy to be able to measure the length of a skein.

Niddy noddy: I use this for measuring skein length for all but the hugest skeins. I always mark the length of one round of a niddy noddy somewhere on it in permanent marker. I don't want to measure every time. The two niddy noddys in the photo are a Schacht adjustable (1.5 and 2 yards) and a Hound Design (23 inches).

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pens (in a NYC subway bag), ruler, scissors and a protractor

Pens: I have lots of pens in many colors and writing types. I'm constantly scribbling notes about a yarn or potential project on my project index card. I also mark my storage bobbins. If I'm smart, I manage to color coordinate all of the notes and measurements of a project.

Protractor: Ah, twist angle. The idea of twist angle freaks out a lot of spinners, but I love it. I check it 3 or 4 times per regular-size bobbin. Twist angle helps soft yarns stay soft and robust yarns stay toothy. When I get in a hurry to finish, I frequently start treadling faster adding more twist and my lovely soft yarns get wiry, so I take the time to check my twist angle.

Ruler: My favorite way to keep tract of ply twist is by measuring twist per inch or bumps per inch. All I need is a ruler. I use a ruler for measuring the WPI of chubby or very uneven yarns over 2, 3 or more inches and average, instead of trying to measure over just one inch.

Scissors: For measuring, mostly I use scissors to cut index cards to size or cut slits in index cards to anchor yarn that I'll wrap around the card. I buy kid scissors by the handful at back-to-school time; everybody always needs scissors, plus I always lose them.

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storage bobbins, Spinners Control Card, stickers and Sharpies

Sharpie markers: Any tag or wristband I attach to yarn I write on with a Sharpie marker. No other markers hold up to water as well, plus all of the colors.

Small stickers: These are for marking storage bobbins. I use them to mark direction of twist, empty weight of bobbins, full weight of bobbins, project, type and name of fiber. I also use them to correct mistakes on my project cards, so I don't have to rewrite the whole card.

Spinner's Control Card: I love this thing. A quick and easy way to check your WPI while spinning. No wrapping, just match the width of your single to the closest line.

Storage Bobbins: I store singles to ply later, or rewind a wonkily filled bobbin onto a storage bobbin for smoother plying. Never forget to mark them somehow. No, you will not remember, even if it's only until tomorrow.

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LeClerc swift, tape buddy, twist angle cards, hang tags

Swift with or without a counter: I use a swift for measuring yardage of big skeins of yarn. Both Oregon Woodworker and Schacht make swifts with built in counters, that makes winding and counting easy. Wooden swifts are more expensive, but they last. My swift is over 20 years old.

Tags: I use them to mark measurements of finished skeins. Paper hang tags usually don't hold up through the finishing process. I also use them to leave notes to myself on my wheel. If I was counting treadles while plying and stopped before I was finished to go to bed, I'll leave a tag on my wheel -- 5 treadles per draft.

Tape: For attaching singles to my wheel for comparison or taping down yarn on my control card. I love my Tape Buddy.

Twist angle cards: With my handy protractor I make my twist angle cards on index cards. I like big ones. Making my own twist angle cards helped my see twist angle better and to understand twist angle better. The ones in the photo are The Spinners Party Tool by FBN Plastics and the black one is from a class I tool with Sarah Anderson.

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yardage counter, wrist bands, WPI gauge and ziploc bags

WPI gauge: I check wraps per inch, or yarn width, more than any other thing when I'm spinning. It's quick and easy and helps me maintain a consistent yarn. If I don't check anything else I regularly check my WPI. There are a bazillion different WPI gauges. My TARDIS gauge came from Tangerine 8.

Wristbands: Tyvek wristbands are the ultimate marking tags. They are virtually indestructible and come off only when they are cut. I have used them on skeins of yarn that I felted and they barely wrinkled. They come in a bunch of colors, so projects can be color-coded. They are long enough that I can fit a lot of measuring information on them. Usually that includes company, fiber, colorway, wheel, ratio, WPI, yardage and intended project.

Yardage counter: Used for counting yardage as yarn winds from bobbin to swift or niddy noddy. This particular yardage counter is from Schacht, but there's also a good one available from Nancy's Knit Knacks.

Ziploc bags: Every single bag I own, purses included, has a stash of Ziploc bags in it. For spinning, I use them for consolidating project cards, and spinning samples. I used to try to tie my samples and cards together, but that went wrong too many times, so zipper bags it is. These pretty ones are from Ikea.


designernamespacer Jillian Moreno is the editor of Knittyspin. She's on the Editorial Advisory board for PLY Magazine. She lives in a house packed with fiber and books.

Be warned, she's a morning person and is disgustingly chipper before 9 am.