I can’t claim the credit for this idea, I learnt it from my lazy kate, but it’s become my favourite method so I thought I’d share.

When I teach my brand-new spinners how to ply their very first yarn, we use a ball-winder to create a centre-pull ball. This is fine for that first yarn which is not long and usually pretty thick and lumpy. But finer yarn, fuzzy fibres and high twist can all cause disasters in a centre-pull ball so we soon move on to this more reliable method.

Once your spindle cop is all wound on you have to decide what to do with. Perhaps you’re happy to andean-ply it on itself, or wind it off onto a holder of some sort while you spin a second singles. Winding off is crazy boring though, and there is a much better way.


Find a straw - not any old drinking straw, it needs to be a bit fatter and a bit stronger. Fast food ones work well, and the ones you get with bubble tea are fab. The straw needs to be thinner than your spindle shaft but not too much thinner. The straws shown came with my Katie-a-go-go as part of the kit.

Set the end of your spindle shaft in the top of the straw and start sliding the cop down. This will be scary. The important thing to remember is, do not squeeze. If you squeeze the cop, you will squash it onto the top edge of the straw and the strands of yarn will get caught up. As long as the straw is thinner and you don’t squeeze it will slide right on. Do practice with some un-loved yarn first.


Once your cop is on the straw, give it a good squeeze so that now the middle collapses slightly and it won’t slide off again. Your spindle is now free for the second cop, or third, or however many plies you want to do (I’m actually doing six cops, then will be 2-plying them all in a row. Must drink more bubble tea).


When you’re ready to ply, simply slip the straws with the cops on them over the rods of your lazy kate. A yarn guide next to them is helpful, you definitely don’t want the yarn spiralling upwards off the straws as it could tangle or pull them off the rods.


You don’t need a fancy lazy kate for this method, my doctored shoebox works equally well, although is a little less convenient to carry around. NB: I just noticed that the straws don’t show much in this picture, but the cops are still on the straws and they slide onto the kebab sticks.


If your spindle has a bit of fancy carving at the end, be aware that this will catch the strands of yarn. It is simple to overcome though, just wind a little piece of tape around the carving and slide the yarn over that, then take the tape off again straight away or it might leave residue on your spindle. It’s very unlikely that the carved area will actually be thicker than the shaft, but in this case the method won’t work on that particular spindle. I love the Bosworth spindles - they have a perfect tapered end. I had my class spindles made that way too for this very reason.

And yes, of course, if you are of the thinking-ahead persuasion, you can dress your spindle shaft with a layer of paper before you start spinning and then simply and safely slide that off at the end. But really, who is ever that organised!

Have fun spinning today, I’ll catch you on Lingr tonight between 8 and 10.


14 Responses to “Spin-In: Plying from your Spindle”
  1. Arianne says:

    I luuuurve that Bosworth! What wood is that? Is it a Mini? I want!

    And thank you for the chat last week on this very subject :) Once my Bossies turn up (damn Royal Mail) I’ll be spinning with a vengeance. Must remember to raid McDonalds for straws next time I go in.

  2. Kai says:

    Fantastic idea! I was wondering what to do with the spindle cop i have at the moment… no spindle spinning in ages because of this. :( Now I can get back to it. :)

  3. kch says:

    Brilliant! Thanks for the idea!

  4. Jo says:

    I like that colour…what is it? Actually I’ve got a vague idea it was in a previous post when you came back from SOAR, maybe it was in the what shall I spin post…god it’s amazing what the mind hangs onto sometimes, I can forget what happened 5 minutes ago…in an instant!

  5. Mum says:

    I AM (now) xx

  6. Jewel says:

    What a neat idea!

  7. Lindsey says:

    Fabulous idea! I need to see if the straws I have on hand will work for this, or if I need to go find a local bubble tea establishment. :-) But I definitely will be giving this a try. This might give me the motivation to get my spindles back out, I haven’t been doing much with them lately…

  8. Sheila Bosworth says:

    Diana, what a wonderful demonstration — and what superfine yarn! OK, it’s a beautiful spindle too. Thank you for your very kind words, BTW! Here’s a tip about dressing the spindle shaft with a layer of paper: A friend of mine uses Post-Its for that… tooo clever for words! I’ll send this link to the JW group, I’m sure they’d want to experiment with this.

  9. Caro says:

    Excellent post, Diane; you cover every detail.

    And Sheila’s extra about the Post-its, too :disappears off to finish a cop:

  10. Aberdonian says:

    You always answer all my questions before I even have time to ask them! (For some reason, my reader hasn’t shown me any of your posts for weeks!)

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