Some questions answered, and a daring plot

Several folks have asked how you do a criss-crossing wind-on. It’s pretty simple, and I wrote up the basics a few years back — with nary a question or comment! I demonstrated it with a low whorl spindle, and spiraling up the shaft to where you’ll do a half-hitch, but this same principle applies to any spindle. In this particular tutorial, I showed it at the starting stages — but you can do it at any stage at all. In the beginning stages, it saves a lot of wind-on time and usually helps keep what will become the interior of your cop from getting very slippery later on.

I’m going to digress for a moment here and reiterate something I think people don’t always realize intuitively. Ready? Okay then, here it is: lots of things apply to more than one type of spindle (or even more than one type of tool — so things that apply to the spindle often apply to the wheel, and vice versa). This criss-cross wind-on is a great example. The gist of the method, even though it’s shown on a low whorl spindle in this case, applies equally to a high whorl, or a mid-whorl, or any spindle.

Debbie raises an interesting point in a comment:

If seems to me that you are cheating a little by using a Woolee Winder as the comparison. If you were using hooks instead of a Woolee Winder, you could fit more yarn on the bobbin. The limit would be where the yarn hits the flier, instead of flat with the end of the bobbin. The yarn would pooch out in the middle of the bobbin, just like on the spindle.

Your main point that spindles can hold a lot stands up well without the comparison, however.

Interesting cop building method. Is this traditional Chinchero or your own take on how you find it most efficient?

I would absolutely agree that it’s possible to pack many standard bobbins much fuller than a WooLee Winder (although that, too, is something one can find debate over — because packing a bobbin to maximum fullness is also a skill, and the WW is no substitute for that skill in the final analysis). Certainly, that would be true for a standard Majacraft bobbin, and that would have addressed that in the specific case shown. For the record, the example shown — with the plying finished using a spindle — wasn’t something I set up to prove this point; it was something I encountered never expecting that I had more to ply than would fit on that bobbin, for a planned yarn where failing to get it plied as expected would have ruined the whole idea.

To illustrate Debbie’s point, here’s a bobbin packed full on my old Roberta electric spinner — which has a tensioning mechanism that makes for pretty tightly packed bobbins, to boot:

and another view:

The spun yarn on the bobbin is rubbing on the flyer arm in many places, and it’s no longer really possible to wind on stably in a way that yarn won’t slip off the ends and tangle around the flyer shaft. This can also happen after removing the bobbin, such that problems occur:

and in my experience, I have found these limitations on bobbin and flyer assemblies to be more absolute than the comparable limitations for packing a spindle full. But again, it also depens on the specific equipment. Not all bobbins can be packed to be fuller; not all spindles can be filled to the same extent; your yardage will vary, as they say.

Thank you, Debbie, for raising this — it’s a great discussion point. As to your last question, in Chinchero, while cop building is still unique to each spinner, there’s a strong aesthetic towards the bell-shaped cop, and this is sort of an upside-down interpretation of that aesthetic. Some spinners do criss-cross to stabilize things, but it’s not universal.

In other news, I am daring to hope.

These are four seedlings — cotton seedlings — which are not yet dead. They were planted with seeds from the one plant that made it last year, which produced two bolls. There were six in this pot, which we started inside in early May. One seed never sprouted, one sprout died very early, and these four are not dead yet. Based on this, I am, as I say, daring to hope.

There are four seeds each in these pots by the garage. There are also four more that have been added to the six that were in another pot, on the deck, that we planted at the same time as the indoor-started ones, and those have never sprouted.

I am daring to hope that a few plants will make it in each of these containers. This is a huge hope for me, because I’m not good with the whole plant-growing thing. Usually, my plantings look rather like this.


But sometimes crops work out okay if I’m involved. Houseplants never; crops, okay. Even so, I often think it best if I view the garden as belonging to my better half.

And yet, I dare to hope that it will yield tasty tomatoes, peppers, basil, and cilantro for us all to enjoy.

Our son is not plagued by my plant misfortune. Years ago in California, he planted a few sunflower seeds, and they grew into 12-foot-tall behemoths that eventually collapsed under the weight of their yield of seeds. We saved at least a pound of seeds, and this year, he planted some.

There were many here, but this crew has been beset by slugs or something, so a lot of ‘em didn’t make it past being very small.

These have done a little better, though again there have been some losses. But we all dare to hope that perhaps the manchild’s sunflowers will again grow huge and tall.

Please wish us luck with our green things.

10 thoughts on “Some questions answered, and a daring plot

  1. Damn. Your cotton seedlings look a lot better than mine. And I’m a good gardener. Damn. Unfair. It must be Denny’s fault; it always is.

  2. Maybe you should get E to do your gardening for you! I planted a ton of seeds this year but some of them were 10 years old and I had little hope for their sprouting but they are! I have little green sprouts!

  3. Lovely seedlings and good pot placement for getting reflected heat. As to the pot with the dead plants, it is full of roots and really compacted. Needs fluffed. All garden soil benefits from being dug up and fluffed to increase the air pockets. Dig deeply. I think that is why the sunflowers are struggling. But the cotton will do well this year, can’t you feel it?

  4. Ah, bobbin packing! My skill with this varies depending on the type of yarn I’m spinning, mostly on the amount of draw-in tension I can comfortably spin the particular yarn with, without it being so tense that it breaks my yarn. Also, too much tension to really pack a bobbin can make treadling difficult.

    I’ve got a Lendrum and a Rose, so I’ve not had to contend with hooks and I doubt I’d have the same bobbin packing ability if I were limited to hooks; at least not until I figured it out!

    I share your black thumb, Abby. I’m not so good with green things. The only houseplants I have are the kind that don’t die if you either over-water or under-water them, and that’s fine with me. But I want to hear about the sunflowers! I’d love to line the very back of my backyard with them. Wonder if it’s too late to plant seeds, or do I have to get some seedlings?

  5. Oh, and I wanted to mention the criss-cross cop winding. I learned to spindle mostly on my own with a bit of help from a few internet articles here and there a few years ago. The first cop I built was sloppy and loose; it started coming apart on me as the spindle filled. At the time I wasn’t able to find a lot of information on cop building online, but I experimented and tried a few different things, and now what I do is I criss-cross the base of the cop at first, and also when I am ready to elongate it, and then I make my cop almost diamond-shaped: pointed at the top, widest just below that, and then I let it taper. And whenever I feel the cop is too smooth and needs some stability, I criss-cross again to create texture which helps stabilize the cop as I go.

  6. thanks for the link to the criss-crossing wind-on!

    good luck with the green things. (and if all else fails–my mom tells me that her uncle, who worked in agriculture, claimed that you can get plants to grow by threatening them with dire consequences if they don’t. :) i haven’t tried it myself, but my mom says she tried it on the lychee tree, which is now so tall that nobody can reach the fruit!)

  7. Re: packing a bobbin, I do it as often as I can. I don’t pack to the last hook, so it won’t fall off as in one of the pictures.
    And as for planting debacles, and brown (or black as Maggie said) thumbs I join the club on that one. But I still keep trying, deluding myself that one day I’ll succeed and the plant will actually survive.

  8. Focus on the positive! From one plant last year, you now have four! Way to go! Tell them several times a day how happy you are with them, and that they’re the best cotton plants ever – plants react to positive reinforcement just like everybody else. They’ll grow exuberantly, just to please you.
    Again, thanks for the spinning info. I learned to spin by scouring the internet. Without a teacher, it never occurred to me that what worked for spindles wouldn’t translate to the wheel.
    My problem with winding bobbins is that I end up with hills and valleys – should I be changing hooks more frequently? (That’s the next theory I’m going to test out.)

  9. That majacraft bobbin looks familiar, only it doesn’t have enough yarn stuffed on it, LOL Mine get very fat in the middle (but I’ve learned to avoid the ends).
    After reading your recent posts, I am amazed that people think you can only do a particular thing standing or sitting or only on a top whorl or bottom whorl, etc. Obviously it was not obvious!

  10. Hi Abby – I will be one of your students the first day at Sock Summit. Can you tell me what will be in the class kit? I assume we will buy or sign up for these thru the Souvenir Shop for SS09. Also can you suggest where we could obtain the roving and top we need for class. Being a new person to this skill I have been watching your videos to see what the terms mean but I’ve avoided trying because I don’t want to build in any bad habits. Or do you suggest that I try these skills before I come to class. Thank you for any information you could offer. B

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