When I first decided to teach myself to spin, keeping notes seemed like a good idea. As soon as there was actual yarn coming off the spindle, which took longer than expected, I made a little notebook from index cards bound together with a rubber band and a paper clip. After each little skein was finished, it got a page in the notebook that included the fiber, color, yardage, and weight. There were plenty of exclamation points whenever I hit a new yardage record, say spinning 70 yards when the most I’d spun before was 54. Eventually, I got lazy. I wanted to spin more I wanted to jot things down. I spun and told myself I’d update my notes later. Yeah, that never happened. I don’t know where that notebook is but I’m sure it’ll turn up.
Now that I’ve got an awesome spinning wheel, I’ve come round to taking notes again. The ‘Favorite Things’ post from the Sweet Georgia blog was a perfect reminder why I should. When I spun on spindles, I had a hard time producing consistent yarn over multiple skeins. Why bother with notes? With my wheel I can set ratios, tension, and count treadles which makes it easier to spin multiple consistent skeins. Keeping notes is suddenly much more important because spinning for large projects actually seems possible. Handspun with a consistent weight and gauge is crucial when the end goal is to knit it into a sweater.
I’ve started using Ravelry to track some of the information I need. The ability to stash fiber and handspun is a great feature and I’m glad to have it but I don’t always update it like I should. Plus, I don’t have to worry about single strength or finding wifi with a notebook.
The first step in keeping a handspun journal is finding the right notebook. I went with the Moleskine Cahier because I like the size and the 3-pack is a good price. Also, grids forever.
Here’s a sample of what my notes look like. At the top, the date starts with when the fiber was first prepped and ends when the twist is set. Then a project name. Next up is the info on the fiber: dyer, type, color, and amount. Info for the finished skeins includes yardage, weight, and WPI before and after setting the twist. The remainder of the notes are all about the spinning process. Where the singles spun S or Z? How were they plied? What was the tension and ratio? How did I split the fiber? How did I handle the color - barber pole, fractal, or chain-ply? What is the final yarn going to become? Is it a gift? Am I trying to recreate a previous yarn? Just spinning for the joy of it? It’s all there.
At the very bottom of the page is one last thing, a page number. What good is keeping a notebook if you can’t find anything in it? Having page numbers means that the first page of the book can be an index. When it’s time to document a new project, the title and the page number go here. No more flipping pages to find info about that skein spun months ago. Even better, the index makes it easy to record more than just finished yarn. Write down your spinning bucket list. Plan for Tour de Fleece or Spinzilla. Catalog stash acquisitions or make a spinning shopping list.
The ‘Favorite Things’ post reminded me of something else I’ve been meaning to do - labeling handspun. After all the important details go in the notebook, the info is copied onto a mail tag and then tied to the skein with baker’s twine. When I pick out handspun from the stash, the yardage and weight are right at my fingertips which makes deciding what to make slightly easier.