My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


Tel Me What You Want, What You Really Really Really Want

(This blog entry brought to you by that rarely seen Spice Girl, Autumn Spice)

Isela asked:
I just barely started spinning. Yesterday, I plied my first yarn, however, it twists on itself. How do you suggest taking the twist off–I guess, how do I balance it before winding it into a ball?

Here’s what I do.

Here is the Autumn Spice, freshly plied.


I wind it off:


Tie it in a few places to make a skein:


It’s pretty well balanced, as you can see — it’s not twisting on itself.

Time out for an extreme close-up!


Mmmmmmm . . . yarn . . .


Anyhow, back to the subject at hand.

Even though this skein is pretty well-balanced, I still give it a bath to set the twist.

Here’s Autumn Spice, relaxing in her bubble bath:


That’s warm water with wool wash in it (I’ve used Kookaburra Woolwash).

I rinse the skein in warm water, then gently squeeze out the excess water. Then I hang it on a hanger:


At the bottom, I’ve looped some “s” hooks through the yarn to weight it and set the twist:


“S” hooks are available at the hardware store and make great skein weights. Let the skein dry — I usually turn it halfway through the drying and reweight it in a new position.

Then presto-chango, you end up with nice dry, balanced yarn.

Thank You!

Thank you to the anonymous person who arranged to send me this:


This is a shawl pin, from Designs By Romi — isn’t it lovely? She’s got lots of beautiful pins on her site — the perfect holiday gift for the shawl-wearer on your list.


Lucy is having a nap so she’ll be wide-awake and the life of the party later this evening when my knitting group arrives.



  1. Thank you Wendy, now I know what to do. I was worried that I did something wrong.

  2. Autumn Spice is gorgeous, as is Miss Lucy. Have fun at your knitting group.

  3. Autumn spice is gorgous, Wendy! Your directions on washing and blocking were great as well.

    I have a tip for your reader who asked about the skein twisting back on itself. In a class I took from Maggie Casey (frequent contributor to Spin*Off) at Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins in Boulder, CO she recommended pulling some length off the bobbin in mid-spinning, let it twist back on itself and then break off and tie into a circle or bracelet. She calles them Rita bracelets as that was who she learned this technique from. It not only gives you a great reference for checking to make sure you’re putting equal twist in the singles throughout the bobbin and on other bobbins, but if you ply your singles to look like that bracelet you will almost end up with a very well balanced yarn.

    If you forget to take a sample of the natural twist of the yarn you can also take a length and plop it into near boiling water. It will bounce to it’s original twist and give you a good sample of how your 2-ply yarn should look.

    I hope that helps some newer spinners out there!

  4. Great color, great spinning, great cat;-)

  5. kelly in new mexico says:

    The yarn you’ve spun is beautiful!! I do have a question related to the mermaid though. It quite obviously takes alot of knitting, so here’s my question. How do you not get bored and want to move onto something else when the knitting is basically the same throughout?
    I’m bad to have socks on needles to go back and forth on when I’m doing a long project, but you seem to stay true to the project. Just wondering. It might help me when I feel like my knitting will never end on some projects. Thanks!!

  6. Seriously – if you keep showing us all this gorgeous handspun, I will have to take up spinning. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. WOW. I’m not even an orange fan, but I LOVE that yarn. The blue from yesterday is wonderful too. I should spin more often. You are an inspiration!

  8. Oh lands! The yarn is magnificant. I think I might have to display Miss Autumn Spice for awhile before knitting her into something beautiful.

  9. Mmmm. Yarn.

    Pardon me whilst I wipe away the drool. That be some gorgeous stuff!

  10. I love this post. I learn so much from you about the topic of spinning. Information I hope I remember once I actually learn to spin. The color of the Autumn Spice is so beautiful it’s actually breathtaking. I’m droooling all over the computer screen.

  11. What gorgeous yarn. I have trouble getting all skeins to look alike although I think I spin evenly. I tend to make one skein projects!

  12. I absolutely love the Autumn Spice. It is so sunny and glowing. I think it’s one of my favorites I’ve seen you do so far. Very impressive.

  13. Oh, I forgot to ask, Approx. what gauge do you spin your yarn? Or should I say WPI is your yarn.

  14. Wendy:

    I was curious why you are weighting the yarn as it dries. Will the yarn be woven? If not, I am not sure I would weight it since the item knit with it would not necessarily be weighted when it dries and the residual twist might cause the garment to look different. As with knitting, differences of opinion in the spinning world.

    Glad you are spinning again.

  15. Yes. I have to agree with all the above posts. Wonderful yarn, wonderful lesson, wonderful, beautiful Lucy. However – I do worry about Bear behind Lucy. What did he do to deserve a #1 DP bamboo needle through his muzzle? Uffda, as we say on the Prairie!

  16. Your yarn is gorgeous! I would love to have a framed portrait of it on your niddy noddy for my office wall since it so stunning!

    Do you like the Kookaburrah Woolwash better than Eucalan? I have the Eucalan and like that you don’t have to rinse it out, but the smell isn’t a little harsh.

  17. autumn spice is luscious! enjoying the feel of yarn wonding on the niddy noddy is right up there with yarn sniffing ๐Ÿ˜‰
    gorgeous pin!

  18. Love the Autumn Spice. One of these days you are going to tempt me too far and I’ll wind up buying a spinning wheel. I’ve been eyeing the two antique ones in the living room, one of which is supposed to be in working order and trying to figure out if I could even try something on it! LOL
    Pam ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Glad you are spinning again! It’s a very beautiful color.

    And Lucy… give her a kiss on her head for me!!!

  20. As a long time spinner….I’d suggest you omit weighting the skein if you are planning on using your handspun as a knitting yarn. It takes some of the liveliness out of the yarn, but not permanently. Therefore it will mess with your gauge when you knit, then wash it. That “liveliness” (aka loft) is likely to return when you wash it. The commercial yarn analogy would be when you knit off a commercial cone of yarn then wash it…the fabric becomes a whole different thing because the yarn on the cone was under tension. The only thing that will permanently “set” the twist in the yarn is moist, high temperature as in steaming.