Un-accessory kinds of “accessories”

I’m not an accessories kind of person. I rarely sport earrings. I don’t wear my engagement ring, and V and I have yet to buy our wedding rings (Yes, we’re married). There have been a few times I regretted not wearing a belt, one of which involved a long line of parents in their cars waiting to pick their children up from school, and me walking by carrying something big and unwieldy while wearing baggy pants.  But enough said. I don’t need to cite all my scenes of humiliation as proof that I’m an accessories-deficient gal. That mutant gene, however, to V’s dismay, does not seem to apply to knitting and spinning.

Perhaps the problem is with the word “accessory” itself, which suggests that it is merely an adornment, an addition, an afterthought, and not something absolutely vitally important, without which you are incapacitated, unable to do your thing and lost at sea.

Therefore, I think all those shops out there that offer spinning supplies–these items should not be listed under “spinning accessories” but under “your right hand” or something like that. So, without further ado, let me share my  [*insert new terminology here that captures how super duper essential these items are]:


Woolee Winder: The devotion to this ingenious invention is no hype. I don’t know how I can go back to spinning the regular way at all. I never realized how disruptive moving my yarn up and down the hooks was to both my spinning rhythm and to the yarn’s diameter. My spinning has become more consistent since getting this, and it has also helped with evening out my plying, which I still need to work on.

Unlike most folks, I chose to buy only one bobbin because when I bought my used Matchless, it came with some extra bobbins and I didn’t want them to become obsolete. This is the only spinning item that I bought totally new, and I have no regrets. Nada. It was worth every penny.



Bobbin Winder: This item might be perceived as a nice bonus, something you treat yourself to if you happen to find some cash on the sidewalk. I disagree. It is indispensable if you 1) have a woolee winder and only one woolee winder bobbin; 2) want to line up the colors of your singles from the beginning end when you ply; 3) want to redistribute and relax the twist of your singles before plying; and 4) tend to be anal retentive.

Judith MacKenzie McCuin in The Intentional Spinner and Alden Amos in his tome,  Big Book of Handspinningrecommend a bobbin winder to redistribute the twist. They write that it also offers another opportunity to quickly scan your singles for errors before you ply them. And, since I am a bit of a sheep, if the spinning gurus say it’s important to get, I am compelled to follow.

I decided to get the Schacht double ended winder because I wanted to have as many options as possible, and I was lucky to buy this used from another Raveler.


Someone once asked me about how I spun this shawl. It was because of the bobbin winder that I was able to line my colors up like this, so that the two singles spun from the divided braid were plied from the beginning end, which ensures that the colors line up better than if you were starting to ply from the tail end of the spun yarn.



Styrene Spool/Bobbin: Even with the extra bobbins that came with my used spinning wheel, I needed more bobbins. Unlike the Matchless bobbins (example on the left) which cost around $38, these ones (example on right) are made by LeClerc and cost $3.75 each at The Woolery. The only minor complaint that I have about this is that LeClerc advertises this as being able to hold up to 8 oz. Perhaps if you are using really thinly- and tightly-spun yarn or thread it’s possible, but I was only able to wind 2 oz onto each. Still, it’s a great deal, and I plan on getting more so that I can have enough to start spinning adult-sized sweaters. A couple of other things to note are 1) that you can’t tension them and 2) I don’t know the difference between a spool and a bobbin.



Spinner’s Control Card: This card keeps me in check, and often confirms, despite my intentions to vary my spinning, that yes, I’m spinning yarn that is 28 wpi.



Digital Scale: I bought this small cheapo item shortly after I took Kim Eichler-Messmer’s class on percentage dyeing. A digital scale is absolutely necessary to measure the amount of dye powder in the dye solutions. However, since we’re currently living in a tiny apartment and I haven’t had a chance to break out my dyes, I’ve been using it to make sure that I’m dividing my fiber up evenly. I don’t mean to totally brag (just partially), but since using this scale to divide up my fiber, the length of my singles are usually no more than a few meters apart, and I am able to ply virtually all my yarn without much left over. If I had planned ahead and realized it was also going to do double-duty and also weigh my fibers, I probably would have purchased a slightly bigger scale.

There are probably other things out there that I *absolutely* need that I haven’t yet discovered. It will be a paradigm shift when I do. I just know it.

What about you? Do you have something that you can’t do without–that enables you to turn straw into gold?




6 thoughts on “Un-accessory kinds of “accessories”

  1. Great toys! Thanks for sharing about them, I’m planning to put them all on my wish list. For now my only essential spinning tools are my hand carders and toilet paper rolls for storage bobbins. 😉

    • So much for me trying to keep things simple, huh? 🙂 How do you like carding? I tried some hand carders once but they hurt my wimpy wrists and so I never tried them again. I once tried toilet paper rolls, but I got my yarn all tangled that I also quickly gave up. I guess I should qualify this list and note that these items are particularly useful for those who are not adept at improvisation.

  2. Somehow I’ve managed without these accessories, except I do have the same scale and find it absolutely necessary. I did go out and buy a tensioned lazy kate, since the upright that came with my wheel allowed my bobbins to backspin into tangled messes. I envy you your woolie winder, but I hear it still has too much tension when spinning lace singles, so I haven’t bit the bullet yet.

    • That’s so great that you’ve managed without these accessories, Amanda. Do you spin for sweaters? If so, what is your bobbin situation like and how do you manage large quantities of yarn? I once tried toilet paper rolls, but I got tired of winding all the yarn onto them and they would get all tangled.

      When I got my wheel, it came with a tensioned kate so I didn’t have to buy one, but I agree–they’re absolutely necessary. I haven’t plied my LeClerc bobbins yet, and since they cannot be tensioned, it will be interesting to see what happens…

      I love this little scale, and it was an unexpected surprise how necessary it has become.

      Your lace singles are probably a lot finer than mine, but so far, I’ve not had any breaks. I did read about the tension issues in the ravelry forums, but I have not had a problem at all. The WW was quite a splurge, but my birthday and Christmas are close together and so it covered both occasions.

      • My first handspun sweater was spindle spun. I got my wheel last October and just recently started a sweater quantity. I started with four bobbins, but when I reported manufacturing defects on each the company sent me replacements. I was able to fix the original four, so now I have eight bobbins. Due to necessity I have always used two bobbins for singles, then two for plying, and clearing bobbins immediately.

        As for the LeClerc maybe you could glue a pulley shaped piece of hardware on to one end and use it for tensioning? It would take some searching at the hardware store but I’d be surprised if you couldn’t find something to serve the purpose.

      • Wow, I’m impressed that your first handspun sweater was spindle spun! That’s so awesome. I definitely do not have that kind of patience. Once I figured out how to draft on a spindle, I went directly to a wheel.

        As for the LeClerc bobbins, I’m thinking of adding a little something so as to be able to tension them. I’ll let you know what I find.

        Thanks for sharing your ideas!

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