Thursday, February 6, 2020

All about the base, the styles, the whys and wherefores

Over the years, the spindolyn base has gone through many iterations, as I have found myself wanting to spin in different seating situations. In order to clear up any confusion, thought I should go over them here. They are all, of course, interchangeable, and everyone has their favorites. These are just examples I pulled from some on hand in my Etsy store right now, and some from the past.
I started out with the castle base, which is a non-tilting base. It has a pedestal on the bottom held on  with a removable peg so that you remove it all together to make it shorter and slimmer, or make it taller by adding your own length of 3/8" dowel. You can see one similar to the original in the top photo. At one time, I offered a base called the "traveler" but found that the castle really served the same function. I make this solid non-tilting style in many shapes (thin, thick, wide, fat, whatever) and various native hardwoods now, as you can see below. This style works great on a cushioned seat between your legs, it is the one I reach for most when I am at the computer because it sits nicely while I am in an office chair.

         When lounging on the couch I wanted a base that could sit on top of my lap (out of the way of my little dog that crowds me) and also needed it to tilt for easier winding on. So that is when I came up with the open ambit style base. That is the one with the ball rolling around inside the cage as you see above in the title photo. I make many of these out of oak, for people who own an original oak spindolyn (from but sometimes out of cherry or walnut, too.

      The enclosed ambit castle style base is another tilting base, with the tilting part enclosed inside. It fits beside you or between your legs. I use this style when I am lounging in bed, having it beside me, and tilting it across me to spin and back the other direction to wind on. But also find it useful on the couch or between my legs. This base has some weight to it so it nicely stable and versatile, I mostly make it in an upright styling reminiscent of the original castle, but sometimes will make it on a square base.

    If you are the type of person who likes options, there is the the convertible ambit base style. With this tilting style, the tilting ball part comes out of the base, in case you want to put the peg in the base to prevent it from tilting, or you want to raise it up higher with a 3/8 inch dowel (of course, then it won't tilt any more) If you grab the whole thing too fast while on the move, the base may go flying apart.... But I have found, that the convertible ambit style is my favorite, specifically, the spindolyn that I can't put down right now is the one in the headline photo above with the ruby wool on it...I love this spindolyn! I am trying to figure out if it is the dainty size of the base, or the tilt..don't know yet, always have to keep studying them, but I can't seem to part with it.


And now on to the steady soft base which is absolutely the easiest for the beginner. The base is built inside the lined fabric square bean bag style base. It is surrounded by poly fill and poly fill beads, so that it sits anywhere you want it too, and can be tilted or stood straight up. 

Of course, you can always mix and match your bases and whorls, and you can request a different style base from me on my etsy store, or you can knit your own bean bag base (links to two different knitted bean bag base covers Here and Here
When I get some time, I hope to write up a sewing pattern.
If you have any questions about bases, whorls or anything else, feel free to ask!


Sunday, January 19, 2020

Ophelias Winter Adventure


When things get to be too much, even in the cold of winter, sometimes it is best to just take it outside to nature and get perspective back. As soon as I got Opehlia's needle felted winter coat done, we had a skift of snow, and out she went to play. 


The first thing she did was climb a snowy evergreen...this is when she realized that although her wool boots where warm, she really should have changed out of her skirt and into some britches.

 It was only a few minutes before Ophelia got bored with tree climbing and headed off into the woods to see what she could find. Look! An ice formation rising from a wild fllower base nearly as big as her!

 Yep, she's a climber all right!
This moss covered locust stump gives just enough of a challenging incline.

Be careful Ophelia! You have climbed pretty far off of the ground.

You know, it's probably a good idea before crawling into dark caves to have a flashlight and a companion.

That is probably not a very useful companion, then again.....

The ice is so beautiful and the sun is warming up.

All in all it was a lovely day, but time to take it back to the house.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Bother and Tarnation

Two habits that can help us avoid mistakes 

In a time of hustle and bustle, it is easy make mistakes! With a bit of "behavior check and change" we can help ourselves avoid them.
 Sometimes when we are working on craft we get this sneaky little feeling that we're about to make a tragic blunder.  If we are distracted, worried or in a hurry, we will miss that teeny tiny inkling of intuition that tells us to slow down and pay attention, and we go ahead and blunder on to an either a disappointing, sad, costly or even tragic outcome.

Sometimes, they are “happy accidents” in the words of Bob Ross, but those more often result not from hurry and distraction, but from letting ourselves flow into areas we are unsure of.  The kind of accidents I'm talking about may just end up being wasteful and irreversible calamities.

The split second before I did this to a spindolyn base that I had grown fond of while I was working on it, I had a moments hesitation, and stupidly did not pause to reflect on my hesitation.

Hmm thought I, as I tapped gently with the mallet to force the pegs into the glue holes, why isn’t this going in? Right then and there is when I should have paused to investigate the answer to this question. At the very moment that I tapped a little harder to force the situation, I had a lightening thought, oh crap, did I change the drill bit from the one just a slight bit smaller up to the correct size? 

And then crack! The lovely piece split in two, never to be repaired. Of course, it didn’t just split, the whole thing went skittering across my cluttered work bench. As it did, it shoved the whorl into a sharp thing which marred the whorl and sent some scissors flying which gouged a deep gash across the bottom of the un-assembled ambit base.

Bother and tarnation indeed. We might develop over time good crafting habits, like keeping a organized workspace and staying focused, only to abandon them to hurry, worry and distraction.
So, my notes to self that I share in hopes you might find it useful!

1)  Focus and listen to the quiet of your mind as you work. If you give your mind the space it needs to really enjoy your craft,  you will be able to hear and heed the little warnings. You may also hear the tinkling of inspiration and the gentle guidings toward the real “happy accidents.”
2) Haste makes waste, almost always.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Penelopes Thanksgiving visit and a moth hole repair plan

Penelope arrived in a donkey cart for Thanksgiving dinner. Her Mother had prepared a very traditional pixie meal of boiled acorn pudding, wild hazelnut cake, dried persimmon snacks, and a mixed greens and mushroom gratin.

Everyone helped clean up after dinner and had a wonderful time laughing and talking.

Penelope showed off the repairs on her angora and lambs wool sweater as she packed up her "gatherings" to take back to her village. The sweater was hand spun on the spindolyn and knitted on size 2.5 needles.

Pixies always exchange things every time they go for a visit, after all, if you can't share, it just isn't as fun! Here Penelope is loading up sweet gum balls. They still contain viable seeds that can be planted back in village to grow sweet gum trees for medicines. You can see some of the tiny seeds that have fallen out onto the wooden table.

This weeks plan: repairing knitting with moth holes with needle felting

When I dug Penelope out of a suitcase where she had been resting for the last 20 odd years, I discovered that her white angora sweater with blue lambswool sleeves and trim had moth holes all in the angora portion, but the blue lambswool was just fine.

Now some people would have thought this was sad, but I thought; Great, a perfect opportunity for me to test some ideas I had for repairs on moth holes. I have a great need for this, because I wear wool sweaters all winter, and they fall into three categories; moth riddled sweaters for farm and wood shop work, soft and semi worn sweaters for in the house, and pretty nice "go in to town sweaters".
 Even though they are just work sweaters, I didn't want to try any new to me techniques on the holey ones, and possibly make them worse, because I still value them.

Working on Penelope's sweater I learned that you can just lay wool over the holes and start jabbing, but you will end up shrinking and drawing it up as you work, which could make your sweater pucker, which was great for her sweater anyway, as it was a bit oversized. So on my work sweaters, I am going to felt patches off of the sweater on the felting rice bag, make the edges all tidy, and blanket stitch them on as actual "patches" on to the sweater.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The newest spindolyn

This is the sneak preview of a new style Spindolyn ™ that I have been prototyping. It behaves a bit differently than other cross arm style spindles, making a tidy wind-on center pull ball, like that from a ball winder or nostepinne. I have a few construction elements to work out, and lots more test spinning to do, and of course an instruction sheet and video tutorial. But for now, I am in for a night of test spinning on it (oh, poor me, lol)

And I am stuck on the name. I wanted to call it the "starwinder" spindolyn but apparently that is a video game, then I thought of stella winder, moonwinder, lunawinder, satellite, orbitwinder or simply "CP spindolyn" (CP being short for center pull) Or maybe just simplify and call it the "ball winder spindolyn".

Sunday, January 27, 2019

time for a change and a new base

Over the years, the spindolyns have been honed, tested and refined to make sure they are a pleasure to use. Recently, it was pointed out to me that there are some spindle sellers making cheap imitations of the spindolyn. Since I can't control the quality of the counterfeits, I can, as always continue to  improve, test and expand the possibilities of my original well as stand behind my product and offer assistance to new spinners.

So,  I have been working on a new base to replace both the castle base and the traveler base, for several reasons.  I have always wanted to do this, but it has moved to the top of list (over the other improvements and inventions that are currently in the works) partly because it will help my spindolyns stand out as the originals against counterfeits.

The more important reasons that I have been wanting to change the base offerings, is I wanted combine the two, to make one superior base: interchangeable in heights with different lengths of dowels, or with a floor extension,  to be slimmer in the middle to fit between the thighs better, but also heftier at the bottom. Additionally, I wanted it to be out of oak to match the whorl for a more unified look.

 Here is a lineup of the current prototypes of the new base that will eventually replace the castle and traveler...I might call it the "basic base" unless you can help me think of something more original.

Not there yet! from left to right; too much like a snowman, too phallic, to boring, and last....sort of getting there. Any input is welcome.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Get back to spinning by Bringing your Fibers out of the Closet

Sometimes we experience a gap in our spinning, knitting, weaving or fiber what have you, because of necessity. But sometimes it happens unwillingly, we lose our groove and have trouble getting back to it, even though we still harbor wistful longings of a time when we were enthusiastic and productive. Sometimes we lose our mojo due to illness, work, obligation, guilt, depression, boredom with a project that is taking too long, or stress and anxiety.

With everything going on in the world right now, we can get into a state of anxiety that causes us to forget that spinning is a stress and anxiety reducer, if we remember to use it that way, and not stress over anything about it, just enjoy it for what it is.

In the next few blog posts,  I am going to look at some of the ways to get back into spinning when you have lost that old spinning magic.

 Part 1 Organizing your Stash and Bringing your Fiber out of the Closet 

 There is nothing like a fresh look at your "fiber on hand" to inspire you to spin. Sometimes we drift away from the spinning we love because we have forgotten just how lovely wool, cotton, linen or other hairy or smooth fibers are to just to look at and play with. If we forget its beauty, we might also forget how satisfying and fun it is to design and spin, knit or felt, weave or crochet, or even just display and admire our finished yarn.

Fibers on parade across a shelf in my office

 I am a big believer in organizing your  art materials, but this is not what this post is about. For a great article on organizing fibers, you might want to read about that over on the Spinzilla Series at the SweetGeorgia blog.

 No, I am talking about putting some of your fiber on display. Out of the closet, out of the plastic,  out in the open, where you can admire and be inspired by it and play with it.

Vintage magazine rack holding fiber samples
 My own stash over the years has dwindled down to less whole fleeces, or lbs of roving, and more small snippets of leftovers, impulse buys of an ounce or two here or there, and small bags of multi colored hand dyed roving.
 I have always dreamed of super organizing it, photographing it, and  cataloguing on  Ravelry, but realistically, this is going to have to wait till (and if) I retire as a busy "one-woman business"

No, with my limited time, getting my fiber out of the closet was going to have to be a rush job.

 Sadly my fiber stash has been stored in the loft of my wood shop since I moved here a few years ago. This has been very inconvenient (if not downright dangerous) because to scramble through the clear bags and plastic totes looking for a bit of green roving required climbing on a ladder over the top of power tools,and awkwardly moving the ladder to the next section if my search was fruitless.

At the end of one very long work day, on impulse, I brought back several large bags into my studio/bedroom/assembly department, tossed them on the bed and began to go through them. I was looking for some bit of green to spin to knit for a pixie vest (and to use as prototype plying testing stuff)
Organizing by color (don't look at the mess in my bedroom)
I found it! but then I realized that here were all these other great colors, isn't this pink pretty? or oh wow, I forgot I had that really great purple. I decided to buck the system and quickly reorganize according to color. As serendipity would have it, I had just picked up some canvas totes and more baskets at Goodwill earlier in the week (yes, I am a basket junkie) and decided to do a rush job and get everything divided up by color. (except for the cotton, linen and silk, it went into one separate basket)

Then, you know how it is, once I was in to it, I decided to bring in all the rest of the fiber, which required more organizing, and soon it was getting close to my bedtime (I get up at 4:30 am, so bed time is earlier for me than most folks) and my bed had wool on it, so I had to hustle and put the totes and basket up on shelves, and add another shelf to another wall.

All and all, I was right proud of myself for getting everything all tucked up and away, inside for easier access, with plastic over it for dust protection.
One of the walls of fiber storage

But then...a few days went by and even though I had labeled the totes and baskets as to colors they contained...blues/greens, yellow/oranges/reds, black and brown, whites and tans, pinks and still felt like I didn't exactly know what I had...I wanted to see it.

As it happened, a little while back I had purchased an old, retro magazine rack from a nice lady at a yard sale, she was trying to come up with a use for it to get me to take it...."you could put, well..magazines in it!!" she said. I laughed and told her that I might use it to put my lathe tools in, but suddenly, I knew that this was a better use for it.

I took samples of all the colors that I have and left the bulk of the fiber up in the totes, unless the amount was so small that it was all I had of that color.  I plan on putting some of it back out of the dust after I have finished enjoying it, but for right now, I am very happy to see my fiber colors and already am using it up faster than before, because it is inspiring. Each color can smile at me as I work.

 Every time I sit down at the computer to print postage or answer a customer, I glance up at the fiber, pick up the spindle near by and spin just a wee few minutes while the computer or the printer whir away doing what they do. Before, I sat there impatiently and thought of the next things I needed to do. Now I get a tiny bit of spinning done, my mind is clearer and full of color and I am happier.

So I say, get some of your fibers out of the closet!!!  Not everyone wants a big magazine rack on their office wall, but maybe tinier samples on a cupcake display? or baskets nailed to a bored, or a shoe organizer, or any way to get those colors and fibers out where you can see them, it will get you spinning again, even if just a wee bit at a time.
Bridget wondering what I am doing

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Winding on for Tangle Free Plying from a Spindolyn

Plying can be fun! (really) It can also be very frustrating, whether you are plying back on to a spinning wheel from bobbins on a lazy kate, or plying from wound off yarn back on to a spindle, there will be some tangles and consternation. How well you prepare the singles (on the wheel or on a spindolyn) can really help reduce both.

At the top of the photo below is a good example of both a poorly spun and poorly wound spinolyn of yarn, when compared to the lower spindle. I have been digging out old, full spindles to test the prototype of the new plying apparatus that you can see in the photo. As I have been doing this, I have noticed that the way the spindle was wound made a huge difference in how often I had to stop and untangle or "uncatch" the yarn so that it could flow freely. The lower spindle in the photo flowed smoothly and never once tangled or snagged. The upper one was so frustrating that a couple of times I nearly just gave up and cut it off.

So what is the difference? Besides the unevenness of the spin, what made the unevenness of the wind? It helps to imagine the way yarn is wound onto a spinning wheel, first.  On a wheel, there are hooks along the bobbin, and when you spin with the yarn forming over a hook,  under that hook, it builds up a little mound, and you move it on to the next hook before the mound gets to big. If you build up a big mountain under that hook before you move on, then the winding on yarn will slump down the sides of that mountain as the next one builds, and you will have some yarn that should be above the layer, trapped underneath. This trapping underneath is a $#%*$ when you go to unwind the bobbin.
Thinking of it this way, as building layers needing to stay on top of each other so they can wind off again smoothly, helps you stay consistent.  Winding on firmly is important for the same reason. In the upper photo, it is apparent that the yarn was wound on too loosely, but also that the layers were built up in spots up and down the shaft, allowing for slumpage and "underlayering".
I seem to have the best luck keeping my layers seperate with building a cone shaped cop on the shaft, but I would love to hear opinions on this, especially those winding an oval shaped cop.

I have often thought that in the spindle spinning world, the spindolyn could be a great way to ply, because it can go slowly and is easier to control. But how to get the singles would off and tidied up and then delivered back to the spindolyn requires a bit of thought.

Many people wind the singles off onto a ball winder, nostepinne, regular ball, or ball of yarn around a felt ball. Then these ball are put into two containers to keep them separate while you ply.
To help with this, I came up with the ply baby bracelet, which I what I use.
But I keep thinking that it would be better to have an apparatus that would hold two or three spindolyns so that you could ply directly off of them, and am prototyping this "plying apparatus" right now (you can see a part of it in the photo) Also, it would be better to have an even bigger than the harmonic spindolyn, an am still working that out (wish me luck on both)

So the take away here is wind on with winding off in mind.
Enjoy your plying and your finished yarn, however you accomplish it!

Friday, August 11, 2017

The new ambit convertible, blending hair color

Here is a sneak peak at the new style base, the "ambit convertible"  It can transform from a regular base, to a tilting base, to a base with a floor extension! I have been proto-typing this for a while, trying to get just the right amount of "tilt control" into a simple form that can be easily converted depending on your seating situation.

When working on a prototype, it really helps if you have a project to work on, because it makes you work with the spindolyn in a way that is more realistic, as well a motivational.

For fun, I am working on a needle felted doll to wear some little hand spun, hand knit sweaters and hats that I have already made. I wanted her to have knitted dark auburn hair, so I chose this wool to blend to get that, do you think they will make dark auburn? We will see.

No, not dark enough, will have to add more brown. Looking at the photo in retrospect, should have you did.

Ratio-wise, I had to add twice as much as is shown in the above photo, but eureka! 


I now have the right color and enough to spin for her hair, so off to the new ambit convertible spindolyn.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

What's on my sewing machine? A sock I am knitting toe up, a snowflake spindolyn I just finished, and a *&%$! cat, laying on some fabric I really like that I had just gotten out to sew a soft base from (think I will pair it with maple) But now, I will have to wash it first, as I try and keep everything that goes out "cat free" this means that I have to be vigilant about keeping fabric hidden in plastic drawers and boxes...but you turn you back just a minute, and there they are!!!! argh!

Welcome to Spindolyns At Cady May's Corner

Frequently Asked Questions   Etsy Store