How to spin coils, an almost-tutorial

This is a lazy post. I keep thinking I should write more tutorials, but then I lack the motivation and extra hands to take step by step photos, so I just post vast swathes of text on rav, and the next time someone asks the same question I end up hunting through my previous posts. This is beyond tedious, as I have over 20,000 posts, most of which are completely stupid, and contain words and phrases such as ‘zombie apocalypse’, ‘sandy vagina’ *, ‘mmmm boobs’, and ‘fucking cat, imma kill her’. They probably weren’t that interesting or amusing the first time round, and they are even less so the second time, so even using rav’s awesome search, it becomes hard work.

Today, someone asked a question about spinning coils, and i provided a suitably verbose answer, so I decided to paste it all here, partly so I can refer people straight to this post without having to search my history, and partly so I can link unsuspecting people to a blog post that contains the word ‘vagina’ several times.

The first thing to note is that there are two types of yarn that are referred to as coils.



The first pic is what most people mean when they talk about coils, it’s just a normal 2 ply yarn with the odd coiled bit in. The second is referred to in the spin-off article mentioned above (Winter 2009 edition) as ‘supercoils’. They both use similar, but slightly different techniques.

Yarn 1
For this type of yarn you want to spin 2 singles from the same fibre. The singles need to have a LOT of twist, far more than if you were going to make a normal balanced 2 ply. I didn’t use enough twist on mine, so its not as tight as i’d have liked. Slightly thick and thin singles are good for this as the thinner areas help the coils to ‘grip’ better rather than stretching out and sliding around, but big fat lumps should be avoided if possible as they don’t look so pretty if they are on the coiling single, and will make the yarn fall apart if they are on the static one.
– When you get to plying, use a low-medium ratio, and a moderate take-up
– position one bobbin to either side of your body. In an ideal world they would both be on tensioned lazy kates to make the crazy amount of singles twist easier to deal with, but if this isn’t possible, I’m sure you can work something out.
– start off by holding both singles at around a 45 degree angle to straight (this is what i wrote, but i actually meant 45 degree angle to each other, either side of straight. So  a 22.5 degree angle to straight i suppose. Clear? no? well just spin a 2 ply for a bit and ignore me), and spin a section of standard 2 ply yarn.
– when you want to make a coil, bring your left hand down so the left single makes a straight line to the orifice, and move your right hand up, so the angle between the two is just shy of 90 degrees. Hold the left one tight and allow the right single to wrap round it. When you’ve got enough wraps, let go of the right hand single, and push it up the left one that you are still holding taught. This will make a lumpy coiled section.
– put your hands back to their original positions and spin some more normal 2 ply
– make another coil as above, this time reversiving the jobs of the left and right hands
– repeat until you are done and marvel at your awesomeness
This method of changing which singles stays straight and which one wraps means you should end up with a balanced yarn, and that if your singles are of the same length, you won’t end up with too much of one left over.

Yarn 2

This is the sort of yarn for which you need a different type of core, and you only need one singles to work with. I used the leftovers from my first yarn, but ran it through the wheel again to add more twist, as i knew there was nowhere near enough.

For the core, you want something that is reasonably thin, and very strong. Lots of people like to use crochet cotton, but i prefer something with a bit more grip that’ll hold my coils in place a little better, so i used some silk noil yarn that i had on a cone, i think it was meant for weaving.

When you are spinning this sort of yarn, the core remains static and all the wrapping is done by your pretty singles, which means a lot of twist builds up in the core yarn. You can spin it onto a bobbin first and guess the amount of twist you’ll be taking out to get an even yarn, but i had no idea, and know it’s always more than i thought, so i went with the alternate method of letting the twist out periodically as i was working.

– take your core yarn, and wrap it onto something that can hang freely and untwist while you are spinning. The spin-off article above uses a drop spindle, but that doesn’t work so well for me as it hits on the edge of the sofa/floor as i work. I found a suitable stone in the garden and wrapped several metres of the core around this, then secured it with a couple of half hitches.
– you’ll want to use a similar take up and ratio to the last yarn, or once you get good at pushing the coils up you may want to up the ratio.
– attach both yarns to the leader, hold the core yarn taught in your left hand, and the wrapping yarn in your right hand (with the bobbin on a lazy kate to your right)…or the other way round if you feel more comfortable that way.
– holding the core yarn tight and the wrapping yarn at almost 90 degrees to it to the right, treadle and allow the singles to wrap around the core. When you’ve got a few inches done, stop and push the singles up the core to make a solid wrapped section.
– There will be a fair amount of twist in your core now, so make sure your stone/spindle is hanging freely and can untwist this extra twist on its own….it might need a bit of a helping hand.
– repeat. a lot. alternating between spinning to wrap the yarn on, pushing it up, and releasing twist from the core
– when your spindle/stone is right up near your hand, let a little more core yarn out and keep going.

This yarn takes a long time to spin, and uses a lot of singles for a very small piece of yarn…but it’s so pretty!

I am plotting in my brainmeats a reworking of this post with more pictures to make the instructions more clear, but for the time being, this will have to do.

* in the interests of science, I did a search. I have used the the words ‘sand’ and ‘vagina’ together in 9 of my 20482 posts, and the word ‘vagina’  (or posted in a thread with vagina in the title) in 89 of them. Do you now see why I don’t want to search my post history?

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