Spinzilla Watching

Following Spinzilla is making me want to spin again! | withwool.com

Spinzilla, an epic competitive spin-along to make as much yarn as possible, kicked off on Sunday. The event started in 2013 both to promote hand spinning and raise funds for the NeedleArts Mentoring Program. And whether you joined a team or are spinning rogue this year, I wish you lots of wool, yardage, and happy hands. 

I made a yardage calculator for previous Spinzillas which you can find here. It should take the guess work out of tallying everything you’ve spun, and will also calculate the plying yardage. 

I’ve spun rogue, aka without a team, in 2013, 2014, and 2015, but decided to sit this one out. Just the thought of a week of near constant spinning made me tired. Though it’s been a lot of fun watching other spinner’s progress and yarn pop up on Instagram over the past few days. So much color and yardage! Even though I’m not spinning along this year, Spinzilla has made me realize that I haven’t touched my wheel since the end of Tour de Fleece in July. Eeek! That’s quite a switch after my 100+ days of daily spinning I tackled in the first half of this year. I’ve got 4 bobbins of alpaca ready to be plied and 500+ yards of fingering weight 2-ply to get back to. I really shouldn’t let that sit much longer so guess it’s time to get back to the wheel.  

Spinning for the Joy of Spinning

Spinning something new for the joy of it, and not worrying about yardage. | withwool.com

Registration for Spinzilla was last month, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to participate this year. I’ve participated every year since Spinzilla began in 2013. Two days before registration closed, I finally decided that I might as well keep the streak going. But I didn’t actually remember to sign up until the afternoon of the last day, and missed the deadline. Frustrating? Yes, but I’m spinning anyway. Not for Spinzilla though.

Spinning something new for the joy of it, and not worrying about yardage. | withwool.com

I didn’t spend any time at my wheel during September. I had packed it up to go to a spin-in at a local yarn shop only for my allergies to knock me out of commission. Then other projects and deadlines kept coming up, and my wheel never made it back out of the bag. I’d also packed 4 oz of superwash BFL, an Akerworks flat pack bobbin, and notions. It turned out to be a nice kit when I was ready to spin again. 

Spinning something new for the joy of it, and not worrying about yardage. | withwool.com

After the wheel was set up and oiled, it was time to finish prepping the fiber. I’m aiming for a heavy fingering weight yarn which is hard for me to achieve when I working from the full bulk of the roving. I split the roving lengthwise into 16 more or less equal sections. 8 for each ply. Then there was nothing left to do but start spinning. 

Spinning something new for the joy of it, and not worrying about yardage. | withwool.com

The roving was dyed in mottled pattern without a color repeat, so I joined the sections at random. Working from the smaller pieces really helped keep clearer colors. There’s black, brown, dark green, light green, blue, and acid yellow which would be so easy muddy. The colorway is called Swamp Thing after all.  Plus, not having to work type-writer style across the top of a big chunk of roving helped me draft a fine and consistent yarn. 

Spinning something new for the joy of it, and not worrying about yardage. | withwool.com

I’ve been trying to be more adventurous with my spinning this year, and work with new fibers. This is the first time that I’ve spun with superwash fiber of any kind. I went in expecting the fibers to be slippery and hard to work with. While the fibers definitely weren’t as grabby as regular wool, they weren’t any harder to spin than a well carded merino. I’m glad I finally tried spinning a superwash yarn since it no where as difficult as I’d built it up to be in my head. 

Spinning something new for the joy of it, and not worrying about yardage. | withwool.com

Not being able to register for Spinzilla was a bummer at first, but I’m not aggravated about it anymore.  Just the thought of Spinzilla was a good kick in the pants to sit down at my wheel again. I’m working at my own pace without worrying about trying to beat my numbers from 2015. Plus, it’s nice just to spin for the joy of it. 

How I Won Spinzilla

I started Spinzilla a day late on Tuesday by spinning 1 ounce of a batt. Wednesday, I spun the second ounce and finished the single. I let the twist rest Thursday and Friday. Saturday, I wound the single into a ball to ply it back on itself. On the last day of Spinzilla, I plied and had a lovely new skein of handspun to drool over. 

This year I thought I’d spend a few minutes spinning everyday until the end of the challenge. Enjoying spinning and not rushing the process was the name of game. I also wanted to spin through my stash of batts which, while not large, is enough to play with. Didn’t really happen like that. Certainly enjoyed the spinning and process, but I didn’t spin every day or clear out my batt stash. I spun just the one batt, and an awesome batt it was, into 130 (390 yards with the plying credit) yards of worsted weight 2-ply yarn. 

That one skein was all it took to win Spinzilla. I definitely did not top last years winning total of 20+ miles spun by a rogue spinner, but I did change the rules. Instead of spinning as much yarn as I could in week, I had fun spinning a batt; added a great new skein to my handspun stash; and got excited about spinning again. The weekend before Spinzilla, my bobbins still had leftover singles from Tour de Fleece on them. Other projects - daily drawing, finishing the Norma Blanket, and yoga - took over my time. Spinzilla brought me back to my wheel after a long drought. Now that I think about it, that long drought is probably the reason I wanted to revel in the process instead of pushing to spin, spin, spin. Now that Spinzilla is over I’ve got plans for for new handspun to make, and spinning is going to be a regular part of my routine again. In the end, 390 yards was all I needed to win. 

What was your Spinzilla like? I hope you won too.

In The Middle of Spinzilla

We’re three days into Spinzilla and I still haven’t finished filling my first bobbin. The fiber, a batt from Fairytale Fibers, is lovely, so why am I not filling all my free time with spinning? Simple. I don’t want to rush my spinning. I know Spinzilla is a challenge to spin as much yarn as possible, but there are other priorities higher on the list this year. I want to enjoy the fiber. I want to enjoy the process of spinning. I want to enjoy the ritual of sitting down at my wheel. I can’t do any of that if I’m rushing to make miles of yarn in a single week.

That said, I’m not ditching the challenge part of Spinzilla. Just redefining it. Instead of spinning all the yarn, I’m spinning all the batts and the wilder stuff I’ve got stashed away. There are batts, mini-batts, and mashups of fiber. This is the week I step out of my comfort zone and spin something with texture. Maybe even art yarn which I want to make, but have no idea what to do with afterward. If I happen to spin a mile of yarn doing it, great. If I don’t, that’s great too.

The rest of my goals for the challenge are pretty simple. Spin every day. Don’t hurt myself. Have fun. These are things I can do. 

What are your Spinzilla goals?

Updated Yardage Calculator for Spinzilla 2015

Spinzilla is next week! The deadline to sign up for the annual challenge to spin all the yarn is this Friday, October 2. You can join a team or spin Rogue if you just want to challenge yourself. Spinzilla costs $10 to join and the money goes to support the NeedleArts Mentoring Program which teaches kids spinning, weaving, knitting, crochet, and spinning. Signed up? Great!

I've spun Rogue since Spinzilla began in 2013 and I'm doing it again this year. In 2014 I wanted to spend more time making yarn and less time totaling yardage so I made a spreadsheet to do the math for me. I've made a few improvements to this year's version and it still calculates plying credit. The first is that the calculator will now tell you how many miles you've spun. The other improvement is actually a second calculator that converts meters to yards and gives all the same information as the first calculator.

To use this spreadsheet, please click "File" in the main menu under "Spinzilla 2015 Yardage Calculator". To use in Google Docs, click "Make a copy..." To download for use in Excel or as an Open Document, click "Download As".

Thanks and Happy Spinning!

Spinzilla Eye Candy

Last year I was living in a different city and, having just gotten my Sidekick, still getting to know my wheel. Spinzilla was just a fun challenge. I had a few ounces of Perendale that I spun and chain-plied into 310 yards (there was no plying credit that year). After the competition was finished, I read about other spinner’s yardage and it was obvious that they took it far more seriously than I did. To put it mildly, my 310 yards seemed a bit lacking. Still, I was and felt like I’d leveled up a spinner anyway. Spinning 3 consistent skeins was something that I’d never accomplished before. 

This year, I started Spinzilla with a little intention, not that I got up early or anything, and set a few goals for myself. 

  • Spin (or ply) everyday.

  • Spin more yardage than I did last year and aim for at least 1 mile, 1,760 yards.

  • Not hurt myself.  During Tour de Fleece this year, I hurt my shoulder spinning long-draw, thanks to poor posture and technique. Didn’t want to repeat that.

  • Have fun. What good is a week full of spinning if it feels like a chore?

By Sunday night, I’d done all of those things even if my shoulders were a little sore. Plus, I had yarn to show for it, 933 yards - 2,533 with the plying credit - of Targhee, BFL, and Polworth. Since I was going for speed and ease of spinning, I stuck with my favorite fibers that I could spin long-draw because it’s my fastest default method. Even better, I love the resulting yarn. Why churn out the yardage if you’re not going to love it and want to use it in the end? The only exception is the neon pink single which I spun inch-worm style in hopes of a smoother finish and a little more durability.  

My numbers aren’t record breaking by any comparison but I had one other goal, to only spin against myself. It was one that I had to remind myself of every time I read a number more than twice mine. “Spinning against myself. Spinning against myself. Just spinning against myself.” A hard mantra to repeat and remember while reading other’s yardage but, at the same time, the right one for me. I’m proud of what I accomplished during Spinzilla and the yarn I made. Plus, I don’t have to recover from  sleep deprivation or aches and pains . So, there’s that.

Spinzilla 2014 Yardage Calculator

Spinzilla is going fast! The competition ends at midnight this Sunday, October 12th, just 2 days from now. Whether you’re just having fun spinning yarn or treating the challenge like a full time job, I’m sure the yardage is adding up. So we can all spend more time with our wheels and spindles and less time with paper and pencil, I made up a handy spreadsheet that does all the math for you. It even calculates the plying credit. All you need is the yardage of the finished skein or single and the number of plies. There’s room for 30 different items which should be enough for even the most dedicated spinner.


As an example, here’s what my spreadsheet looks like. So far, I’ve spun 2 full skeins and I’m working on my third. Each skein gets a name along with it’s yardage, plies, and notes. At the bottom, the grand total is tallied and you see if you’ve joined the Monster Mile Club for spinning more than 1,760 yards. When you’re ready to submit your yardage, all your numbers are in one place and ready to go.  

Note: To have your own personal copy of this spreadsheet, please click "File" in the main menu under "Spinzilla 2014 Yardage Calculator". To use in Google Docs, click "Make a copy..." To download for use in Excel or as an Open Document, click "Download As". Thanks!

Happy Spinning and Good Luck!

Download The Spinzilla Yardage Calculator


Sure, there are podcasts, audiobooks, and music but, like Alex Tinsley does with knitting, I do most of my spinning by the glow of Netflix. Since we’re at the start of Spinzilla 2014, I'm taking a page from her book and offering up a few tips for making the most of your spinning entertainment. 

  • TV shows top movies. Like Alex says, you don’t have to pick something as often if you start watching a tv show with several seasons. There’s one other healthy benefit. TV shows are shorter with commercial breaks which are great reminders to take a break yourself. Stretch, get a drink, and walk around for a couple of minutes. A few moments of rest, especially during the week-long challenge of Spinzilla or any spinning marathon, will help keep you injury free and ready to spin. 

  • Go back to your old favorites. Me, I’m going to be binging on Futurama. I’ve seen every episode and know the jokes. It’ll be easy to follow along with the story and laugh while still keeping a close eye on the twist going into the single. 

  • Follow subtitles with caution. If you can read and knit stockinette at the same time, you can probably spin and follow subtitles at the same time. Just stick to techniques you’ve already got under your belt that don’t require looking down at your hands 100% of the time. I can draft long-draw and follow subtitles but I can’t keep up with subtitles and draft inch-worm. 

A few of my favorites that I'll be watching and spinning with this week:

Futurama - Knitting robots and lobster men from outer space! It’s animated sci-fi set in the year 3000 that follows the adventures of a pizza delivery boy frozen for 1,000 years.

Psych - Wasn’t fond of it at first but I was hooked after watching a few episodes. It’s funny and light-hearted with lots of great characters that solve crimes.

Warehouse 13 - Objects with special powers and the secret service agents that track them down. It can be completely off the wall but that’s what makes it so enjoyable.

Black Sheep - My one exception to the ‘TV shows top movies’ guideline. Genetically engineered sheep turn carnivorous and it’s up to a reluctant farm boy to stop them. Lots of black humor in this one.  

What do you like watching while you spin?

Wander the Web 12


I signed up for Spinzilla at the last minute and now I’m trying to get one last skein off my bobbins. I’d already be halfway through my second single if I hadn’t spent to much time on the web looking at interesting stuff. Oh well, I’ll be finished by Sunday. I think. 

Pointless Diagrams Completely pointless and lacking meaning but pretty. 

How to Hand Felt Your Knits along with a few other techniques from knitting to embellishment to sewing suede soles on slippers. 

Adam Savage's 10 Rules for Success

Eat Pie for Breakfast (via @lamonstre) Yum, typographic pie. 

Knit.fm - A new podcast covering the craft of knitting by Hannah Fettig and Pam Allen of Knitbot and Quince & Co, respectively. 

Submarines Ascend into Milan

From the Knees of my Nose to the Belly of My Toes by Alex Chinneck