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It’s been a whirlwind…

I have officially lost all track of time. In the past 5 minutes, or else perhaps it’s 5 years, the manchild finished school for the year, started summer day camp at the local YMCA, I got my copy of Amy King’s new book Spin Control, I went to Colorado to work on an exciting new project I haven’t gotten clearance to blog about yet, I saw the first laid-out pages for my book, I went to TNNA, my 40th Anniversary cherry Matchless arrived at my dealer’s, and officially started trying to make exercise part of my routine even though there’s no way I can fit it in.

Okay, it’s been 9 days, and I feel like today is the longest I’ve sat still (I think I feel that way because it’s true). I feel completely dizzy. And exhausted. And years behind on my email. And vaguely as if I’m forgetting at least 8 other things that have happened. But there are two pieces of big news. The first is that tonight, for the first time since I don’t remember when, I have time to spin something totally just for me. Something that isn’t committed to a project, necessarily. Something whimsical. Something I don’t have to spin, with no deadline. And I have absolutely no idea what to spin. None. I am totally at a loss. I can’t remember what to do with myself.

The second is that my book is officially available for preorder! I can hardly believe it, but, as my long-suffering editor said to me the other day, “This ruse that we’re publishing a book is getting expensive.” She was kidding. I hope. Seriously though, it’s real! It’s a real book. I saw real pages for it. With real pictures, and real words, and everything. It has an ISBN. It’s, you know, real. It’s really expected in November. And I’ve had a few folks ask me already where they can get signed copies. The first answer that came to mind was “Come where I’ll be signing them,” but when I said that in Amy King’s earshot this past weekend, she pointed out that with the wonders of modern technology, it’s actually possible for people to pre-order them, which she’d set up for her loyal Spunquistadores to do. “You should do the same,” she suggested. So I’m copycatting her, and there’s a link on the right nav bar where you can do just that if you’re so inclined. When the first copies hit the warehouse, I’ll get your pre-orders in, sign them, and send them out to you forthwith. Make sure you let me know who you’d like it signed to, or if there’s anything specific you’d like me to say.

But please do still come see me where I’m signing books… and I’ll let you know where that will be before too long. But in the meantime, I’m off to do my comfort spinning, and I’d love to hear what you consider comfort spinning!

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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.