It was just a quiet Saturday afternoon. The sky was a pale, bruised gray threatening but not quite producing rain.
Saturday was Rhonda’s weekly Barn Hunt practice, where she had enthusiastically cornered and pounced upon four craftily hidden, furry rodents (all safely ensconced in their protective tubes).
Much romping, climbing and tunneling was done by my 4-legged partner, with me, her teammate, scrambling along in her wake, picking up found rat tubes and trying to keep an eye on where Ronni was heading next.
A successful hunt and lots of fun was had and chauffeuring duties complete for the day, I figured Ronni would be content with my tentative afternoon plan of curling up for an hour or two with a good book when we got home. I mean, hey … it was that or clean kitty litter boxes.
Once home, although Rhonda was indeed happy to curl up for a nap, I found myself antsy and unable to concentrate on my book. After reading the same page several times, I tossed the book aside and picked up my Spin-Off magazine. Interesting articles; fleece, fiber, spinning and yarn … oh my. But my mind continued to wander.
Maybe I’d pick the magazine back up later, but for the time being, I needed something to keep both mind and hands busy.
OK, OK … litter boxes having been freshened and 15 minutes put in on the stationary bike, it was time to move on to something more entertaining. I needed a project. Maybe it was the changing weather, changing seasons, changing routines … but I found myself unable to settle.
Finally, turning my spinning wheel so it faced the glass door to my upper deck for bird watching, I sat at my wheel and began to spin. Yep, this felt good. There is little in my world more mind-calming than spinning. My constant companion, Ronni, agrees.
Over the next couple of hours, I treadled away, filling the bobbin on my wheel with luscious shades of blue and aqua in a fine Polwarth (wool)/silk blend. The silky fibers moving through my hands were reminiscent of the feel one would get petting a particularly soft, warm cat. Relaxing and soothing.
Just as I love traveling in my RV in summer, spinning is my wintertime happy place. I may as well get comfortable.
With one bobbin full and half of the roving yet to spin, I went to my fiber closet, where I discovered to my dismay that, darn it, I was out of bobbins. Oh, woe is me.
Now, this is not to say that I didn’t have any more bobbins. It simply meant I didn’t have any more empty bobbins. This was going to be a serious case of delayed gratification. Well, I did say I needed a project. 🤷🏼♀️
Thus started a long-procrastinated bout of bobbin clearing. 🧵🧵🧵
Impatient though I was to continue spinning the pretty blue Polwarth blend, it would have to wait a bit. Besides, bobbin clearing still involves spinning and plying and I enjoy both for the pure sake of the process, so this was no real hardship. Switching gears, I went off in search of partially filled bobbins.
My spinning/spindling followers will already understand the necessity for clearing bobbins periodically, especially if they don’t have an abundance of them to begin with.
For everyone else, I’ll explain. In order to create yarn on a spinning wheel, one needs bobbins. Preferably lots of bobbins, but at the very least, a few. To make 200-300 yards of a simple two-ply yarn, I need a minimum of three bobbins; two to spin up the single plies, and one to ply the two singles together into a two-ply yarn.
The more plies you want your yarn to contain, the more bobbins it takes. For example; in these pictures, you can see the three bobbins on my Lazy Kate on the left, and on the right is the bobbin holding some of the 3-ply yarn being created. Total; four bobbins in use!
Now, if you know me, you should know I’ve often got more than one project going at the same time, be it multiple small samples spins, single-color spins I’m thinking about plying together (and sometimes end up not using) or maybe I have a desire to spin up a brilliantly dyed, multi-colored roving as a visual break from spinning a large project’s worth of some natural cream or brown fiber. Etc.
As you can see, lots of bobbins make for a happier me. Maybe I should take up bobbin-juggling as a side job.
Every new project needs bobbins – and seriously , one can hardly have too many bobbins. This week, my goal was to clear a ton of leftover projects off of as many bobbins as possible.
So, I found this pretty, multi-colored blue/green/purple on one bobbin. I think it was leftover from a large project several years ago. I don’t have any more of the hand-dyed merino wool I originally spun this single from, so I need to come up with an alternate plan.
Hmm … maybe I could ply it with this other leftover bobbin of turquoise BFL wool? The colors would blend well and the singles look to be spun at about the same weight. This will work, but there isn’t enough on this short blue bobbin.
OK, off to dig through my stash. YES! I do have more of the turquoise fiber. So, in order to clear both these bobbins, I need to spin more turquoise onto the solid bobbin until it matches the amount on the multi-colored bobbin, then find an empty bobbin to ply them together on. Fingers crossed.
Now to search for more bobbins … hmm, this next bunch is going to be more challenging.
Bright yellow BFL (Blue-faced Leicester wool), dark forest-green Merino wool/silk blend, and medium brown … what? Mystery wool. It feels like maybe a wool/alpaca blend?
These definitely do not belong together. Keep digging …
Progress! I found a bobbin half full of a cream-color wool. Plied together with the brown wool, it created a nice brown and cream 2-ply. Another two bobbins cleared!
Deeper in my stash, I came across two full bobbins of, well, my best guess is an experiment gone wrong? This was something I had to have spun years ago since I didn’t remember it at all.
It looks like I plied two very different singles (possibly wool and mohair?) and I’m guessing I was attempting a new-to-me spinning or plying technique, since this doesn’t look like my usual style. Obviously, displeased with the outcome, I’d simply set the bobbins aside to deal with later.
Well, today is “later”. I need those bobbins! Out came my niddy-noddy (the tool for creating a skein from the bobbin of yarn). I now have two skeins of … hmm, art-yarn? Maybe it’ll look better after I’ve washed it and allow the twist to settle. We’ll see.
In any case, it looks like the bright canary yellow and the dark green will have to stay on their bobbins for now. The yellow will come in handy at some point, and I did find a bunch of the forest green merino/silk blend fiber, so I can spin more of that up as a future project. At least the bobbin is now with the corresponding fiber.
Now, several more bobbins later, I’ve managed to clear enough bobbins to continue contentedly spinning for the immediate future. Any last bits of stray singles have been wound onto toilet paper rolls to be stored for … whatever.
Of course, all this bobbin clearing creates yet another dilemma … what am I going to do with all this YARN?
2 thoughts on “Bobbin Clearing”
Spinning is a dying art, and you are so blessed to have the talent and wherewithal to be able to do it! I am envious! What beautiful works of art you produce… ♥ What a great way to keep that mind and those hands busy during the long winter months!
I will happily buy that luscious blue from you. It is mouth-watering! PM me with a price and your snail mail address and I will put a check in the mail!!