Category Archives: DIY


Yesterday at the Purple Purl I taught my first class, and Introduction to Drop Spindle Spinning. Does this make me a “professional” spinner now, I wonder?

I had been very nervous in the morning — I really don’t know why, but I always get “stage fright”, regardless of how many workshops I’ve led or seminars presented in the past. Nevertheless, I think once the class actually got started, things went really well! Once there were spindles whirling and fluff being transformed into Real Live Yarn, folks got more talkative and the time just flew by. Everyone went away with a full length of their own handspun singles, a small bit of 2-ply (spun using the Andean method), and a ‘goodie bag’ of many fun fibres to sample, including BFL, alpaca, and Soysilk!

The class also got their own spindles to take home (what’s the point in learning how to spin if you can’t practice afterwards?). I made them up ahead of time, so I got a lovely ‘bouquet’ shot before they were all distributed:


Of course, I had to keep one for myself, too!
spindle & soysilk

I’ve been playing with the rainbow-dyed soysilk, which is so surprisingly like silk I’m still amazed. It has sheen, a fair bit of strength, smoothness, the occasional noil, and the same ability to fly apart and stick to everything that silk does! Fun stuff!

For those of you in the Toronto area, if you are thinking of trying your hand at drop-spindle spinning but want a bit of hands-on instruction, I’ll be teaching another session mid-February! Just drop a line to thePurple Purl for more information. [End of shameless self-promotion ;) ]



Filed under DIY, drop-spindle, spinning

Crafts and Cocoa

EDIT: This post has been stolen by some sort of horrible blog-bot and appears in full at “” THIS IS NOT ME, and I am really upset that my words and photos have been stolen whole-hog. Anyone know how to make this stop?

Dru’s off on a Boy’s Day Out (read: all-day video game-a-thon), so I’ve had a nice quiet afternoon to myself. I spend a few hours on Queen St. West in fabric, bead, and button shops, which are all glorious and overwhelming in their own way, and did a very good job of a) getting what I needed and b) not going to any yarn stores (ok, so I went into Americo, but only becuase I knew I wouldn’t buy anything there!). My haul for the day was: 1) beads, for spindle-whorls, 2) spindle whorl shafts, 3) adhesive, and 4) lining fabric. (I am so restrained!)

glass beads
Glass beads for whorls.

plastic beads

Plastic, but very pretty, beads for whorls.

This is the fabric I bought:
lining fabric
Burgundy-purple kasha lining (a satin-fronted, flannel-backed lining, perfect for winter coats).

It is going to go into this coat:
winter coat

I bought this coat in early September last year because I loved it (and still do). It is wool (a passerby once has even guessed part cashmere); it has amazing Victorian-esq details and very clever feminine seaming; it is warm and lovely. Unfortunately, on top of being shamefully in need of a good de-linting* and missing a button**, it is also quite dreadfully ripped inside:

coat - inside

I don’t even have pockets anymore. This needs to be fixed! And, since I have the technology (sewing machine on loan), ability ( I’ve even made a complete winter coat once before, with much advice from Kelly), and bloody-mindedness (what, like I’d actually pay someone else to sew it?!?), I will be doing the work myself. This involves pre-washing the fabric, cutting the entirity of the old lining out from the coat, using it to get my pattern, cutting out the pieces, sewing them together (properly, without taking my usual no-pins, kamikaze, git’er done approach), and hand-stitching the hem. Which I don’t feel like doing today, and you can’t make me! :P

I have spend several hours making spindles, though, so barring the adhesive issues (anyone know of a mega-adhesive that works like a gel or putty?) I feel like I’ve acomplished some good today. Now I’m going to curl up on the couch with my knitting, drink some hot chocolate, and relax!

And speaking of hot cocoa… there’s going to be a new swap starting up for Jan/Feb, the Mmmm…Hot Cocoa chocolate and yarn swap! Channon tipped me off to this, and it sounds like it’ll be awesome. There’s a contest on to spead the word, so when sign-ups open on Dec. 15, tell them you heard about it here!

And speaking of contestsdon’t forget to enter mine! I’m leaving it open until Friday, and I’m loving discovering your favourite blog posts! Don’t be shy, leave me a comment!!

*I am such a geek that even typing “de-lint” I think of one of my favorite authors!

**I tried to find buttons, but I guess after being nearly lost in the labyrinthine fabric stores and barely avoiding the catfights at the bead stores (wow are those bead ladies pushy!), I just didn’t have the stamena to endure the wall-to-wall boxes of buttons. I can always go back later!


Filed under contest, crafting, DIY, drop-spindle, out & about, sewing

DIY Drop-Spindle: fun with beads

A few days back I finally got around to making up some more drop-spindles. For all that I’m still in mourning for having no wheel, I am trying to move on! I really do enjoy spinning with spindle, as well as wheel (although there is a rhythm that one can fall into more serenely with a wheel, I believe), and no matter what I need to have something to spin on! And since I seem to keep giving away my spindles, it’s high time I made some more!

First off there’s this lightweight spindle, which I’ve come to think on affectionately as “Chinoiserie“. The jade ornament was found in a little shop in Chinatown, the bamboo/lacquer chopsticks likewise (in a 10-pack!). I think the grand total for materials cost was about $3.25.

red jade spindle

red jade close-up

There’s a bit of trickiness involved in making the two stay together: I used an x-acto knife to carve down the tip of the chopstick so that it would fit into the central hole in the jade, and then crazy-glued them for safe measures (I am contemplating getting better adhesive — epoxy? — for this sort of thing). The hook is an opened-up eye screw, carefully screwed into the bit of the spindle shaft that was whittled (so both end up going through the ornament’s central hole).

In actuality, this is Chinoiserie “mark 2”, the first having been given to Jodi (I think it might be blurrily featured in this photo) who, sometime known for wearing her hair up with chopsticks, was fairly pleased with this spindle’s construction. Stephanie was also fairly intrigued by my first Chinoiserie, mostly that I had gotten the two parts together; she even made me show it to (a very indulgent) Joe! On the first one, the jade had a design that, to me, looks like little sheep faces :)

Next up are two glass bead spindles:

2 glass bead spindles

I found the glass beads at Arton Beads, for about $2 each. While they are pretty, sparkley, and have a good whorl shape (round and disk-like), their central holes are rather large. My 1/4″ dowelling was too narrow, so I had to find something else for the spindle shaft.

The solution? Cheap paintbrush handles! With some applied force (aided by pliers) I was able to pull the brush-part off of otherwise nice, pre-varnished, tapered and turned wooden handles, just right for spindle shafts! You just need to sand down the part where the brush had been (in exactly the way I did not for the green spindle because I was too lazy), or make-pointy with a pencil-sharpener (as I actually did for the blue spindle). I am very pleased with these as spindle-shafts, and at about $1.25 per paintbrush I think they’re a great deal. Their slight bulge gives enough diameter that the glass whorl-beads don’t slip off; for each of these I’ve just jammed the bead on tightly from ‘above’, no adhesive. Which way is ‘above’ depends on if you’re wanting a high-whorl or low-whorl spindle!

blue low-whorl spindle
Low-whorl spindle; I chose to not add any hooks or notches.

green high-whorl spindle
High-whorl spindle; again, I used a simple eye-screw for the hook.

I don’t have an electric scale yet, so I can’t give accurate weights for any of these spindles, but I’d guess around 1-1.5oz each with Chinoiserie being lighter than the other two. Of the three, I am surprisingly fond of the blue low-whorl one, which spins fast and true. I am most definitely going to be scouring bead stores for future spindle-whorls!

As ever, if you make any spindles or whatnots inspired by my DIY efforts, drop me a line or link — I’d love to see what you’re making!


Filed under crafting, DIY, drop-spindle, spinning

DIY Yarn Swift: desparate measures

“They say necessity is the mother of Invention.
Don’t know who the father is though… probably Remorse.”

~ Red Green

DIY swift

Well, I’m not sure about Remorse (since I’m actually fairly pleased with this) but I really couldn’t say what fathered this ugly brainchild of mine. I blame the combination of zero socks-in-progress, too much sock-yarn in skeins, and not nearly enough tea early on Friday* morning.

Should you, too, be one of the many yarncrafters out there bereft of ball winder and yarn swift, and if you (like myself) are too cheap/lazy/lack-of-caffeine-addled to make a prettier swift like this one for yourself, them you too can make a swift like the one pictured above!

Gather up 4 wire coat-hangers, some duct tape, and a wine bottle. Bend the hanger’s hanger-parts straight, then down to a right angle. Duct-tape ’em together with a decent blob o’tape, stick em’ in the wine bottle’s neck, and see how it spins. Bend up the coat hangers so that your skein of yarn won’t fall off the contraption. Adjustments are made with the application of more tape and brute force, as needed.

Now grab yourself your “nostepinne” (in my case, a bit of dowel with an elastic around the middle, to secure the initial yarn-tail), pull up your chair, and commence with winding!

That’s how I went from this…
STR autumn skein

…To this…
skein on DYI swift

..with no tangled messes! (Remember the Sea Wool? Never again, say I!) Yeah, it ain’t pretty, but it works.

*I took an extra-long weekend — it was very good!


Filed under DIY, yarn

Send us your baked goods…

Wow! It’s amazing the offers one gets just by flashing some fibre photos! (Maybe it’s virtual wool-fumes?)

While I’d be happy to receive your various baked goodies, I’m not sure my conscience will allow me to take you up on the baking-for-spinning-lessons offers. Now, if we happened to be in the same room with a spindle/wheel and fibre and baked goods all the same time, well then…

But seriously, I’m not sure that I’m the one you want for “spinning lessons”. Remember folks, I’ve only been doing this for a few months now, and am doing this entirely by trial and error and force of will. I do this because it seems I’m meant to, because I have to, because I love it in a way that I can’t rightly describe or entirely comprehend.

I can — am actively trying to — do my best to get my friends (and some strangers!) to join me in this, to introduce others to it’s joys and charms, to share this love of spinning. I’ve had some moderate success in this — Kelly is totally hooked, finding fibre left and right, and is even now building her own wheel (!); Krista’s now begun her own knit/spin blog and has bought a new wheel the day after returning the 2-week rental; Mel (who has been knitting since forever and drop-spindle spinning for a quite some time) stayed with us a few nights back, and got to play at the wheel a bit — she’s a natural, no problems at all with treadling & drafting, and I’m sure her own wheel will find it’s way to her soon enough now.

Mel's wheel-spun single
Look at how even her singles are already!

Mel Spinning
Mel, spinning like a pro.

Y’know , though, as I read what I’ve just written above, maybe there’s a point buried up there. Maybe you don’t care that I’m not a master spinner. Maybe what matters is that I’ve got the spark, something that drives me to read what I can on the subject so I can ‘talk the talk”, and that drives me to spin almost daily in hopes that someday I will feel confident in saying “I know what I’m doing here”. Maybe you’d like to walk along with me on this path for a while.

So sure, send in your baked goods! I’ll make tea while you play with my best DYI spindle, or sit down at the wheel. We’ll compare our experiences: cuss out the frustrations, suss out our problems, admire our successes. Yarns will be spun: tales and fibre both. I can think of no finer way to pass an afternoon than with friends, spinning, and of course a baked treat or two!


Filed under DIY, drop-spindle, rambling, spinning, spinning-wheel