If you have trouble spinning the fluff, mix in some
wool, anywhere from one-third to one-half. You’ll still
get a soft, silky, hand-washable yarn, but the longer
staple length will be easier to work with. To mix fibers,
you’ll need two paddle hairbrushes (this is the low-
tech way — get the kind with widely spaced plastic
bristles if you can) or carding paddles (the “right” HOW TO
way). In either case, your goal is to mix the two fibers
together and align them in one direction, which MAKE A
makes it easier to draft them onto your spindle or
wheel. Place a thin layer of fiber A on top of one brush CD SPINDLE
or paddle, and top it with a layer of fiber B. Brush- The CD spindles I referenced are cheap and easy
ing in the same direction each time, continue until to make if you want to spin right away. Cut a 3"
the two fibers are mixed. Then pull the blend off the dowel down to approximately 12" and screw a
brush or paddle, keeping the fibers aligned, and spin brass cup hook into the very top. Insert a rubber
as is. If you’ve got Serious Spinner friends, beg them grommet (available from bonkersfiber.com) into
to blend the fibers on a drum carder, since it’s much the middle of the CD and push the dowel through
the center, leaving a few inches between the
Why on Earth would cup-hook end and the CD’s surface. I’ve even used
two clear discs (the kind that come at the top of
bulk CD-Rs) with fabric or paper sandwiched in
you want to spin between for a little color, and substituted elastic
adhesive (used to put posters on the walls without
human hair? In my marking them) for the grommet. Or you can make
a spindle with a 2”– 3" wooden car wheel (avail-
case, to see if I could. able at craft and toy shops) instead of a CD. Get
creative — a beautiful spindle will make you want to
faster. But for experimenting, this will work fine.
Milkweed is not the only strange plant fiber that’s
fun to spin; you can also buy ready-made soy fiber
or lyocell (aka Tencel). These types of fiber are my Where to buy: Unless you’re gathering dog fur and
personal favorites. Soy fiber is created from the milkweed or shredding your own fabric, you may
leftover materials of tofu manufacturing — beautiful need to buy some of the fibers listed here. Email me
silky strands of spinnable fiber and dinner, all from at email@example.com if you have questions.
one plant. Compared to “real” silk from silkworms, >>South West Trading Company ( soysilk.com):
soy fiber is extremely soft. If you put your hands in a Soysilk brand soy and other spinnable fibers.
bag of each, you can tell the silkworm version by its >>Mango Moon ( mangomoonyarns.com):
“crunchy” feel — just rub a little between your fingers. Sari silk yarn.
Lyocell is made from wood pulp using an eco- >>Shangri-la Crafts: ( rugsandcrafts.com):
friendly process called solvent spinning. Lyocell is Banana fiber yarn and recycled sari silk fiber.
great mixed with wool to add texture, and it takes >>Halcyon Yarn ( halcyonyarn.com): Soy, hemp,
dye differently, which can be used to good effect. bamboo, and wools if you need a mixer.
See? Your house and yard are full of things to >>Hemp for Knitting ( hempforknitting.com):
spin, so get cracking, Rumpelstiltskin, and make Beautifully colored hemp yarns and fibers.
your own gold.
>>Interweave Press spinning page ( interweave.com/
spin/ getting_started.asp): More details on building
Seen above left, a milkweed pod filled with spinnable
fiber. Below, meet Joy, my portable spinning wheel. She a CD spindle or a cigar-box charkha — the type of olds into a bag for easy carrying. wheel Gandhi used. ×