Sunday, 16 November 2014

Quick TIPS : Winding Threads & Yarns !

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4 Quick Ways
to wind thread/yarn for use in 2-shuttle tatting ;
track a multicolour yarn stash palette for crochet/knitting ; &,
convert hanks/balls into skeins for embroidery.

I. Winding Thread, CTM
Inspiration : Susan BT

All these years, I had been tatting with one shuttle & ball directly. I would buy at least 2 balls of same colour so that the shuttle could be loaded from one ball, while the 2nd ball stayed attached to the work being tatted. It reduces the number of ends to hide, too, especially when working with single colour & long edgings, etc.
But when I started tatting with 2 shuttles, & the pattern asked for Continuous Thread Method (CTM), I would measure the length of thread required for shuttle #2, cut it from the ball, & then start winding the shuttle from this end.
Obviously, long lengths meant taking care of all the tangling; one had to work in a large open space to keep the thread from entanglement.
Then I came across this idea shared by Susan, on the erstwhile InTatters : she uses a cardboard to “hold” the thread ….. Read on …

All you need :
Shuttles – 2 &  Thread , of course.
A cardboard, a broad thread winder or a temporary ‘holder’ (I used my spectacle case )

When winding 2 shuttles CTM : 

Fig 1.
Fig 2.

After winding 1st shuttle normally, continue winding the thread on another piece of cardboard or, in my case, I used my reading glass case which was at hand (Fig 1). Wind to desired length. When one knows the length of 1 complete circle around the holder, then the number of rotations/rounds will give you the total length !
Cut thread. (Fig 2).
Fig 3.
Now reverse-wind from holder, starting from the cut end, on to the 2nd shuttle, till all the thread on the ‘holder’ is over (Fig 3)! Simple !!!

Advantages :
  1. No Long tangle-prone threads to manage ! Winding is easy, smooth & fluid.
  2. No twisting or knotting of thread while winding. Since there is ‘reverse’ winding from holder back to shuttle #2, the initial twisting gets neutralized to a large extent.
  3. Any possible twisting can be Easily taken care of by suspending Shuttle #2 itself. With a loose end, it becomes difficult !
  4. And the Icing on the Cake : No more measuring with arm span or measuring tape …. One can measure the required length by simply counting the number of winds on the holder !!! The holder acts as a Gauge.
eg. one complete round around my spectacle case = 6½’ ;
40 rounds = 260’ or 6.6m
This is just enough to fully load the bobbin of the blue plastic Shuttle #2 in fig !
For my steel Shuttle #1, where I now use sewing bobbins, 45 rounds are required.
And clearly, if one needs a specific shorter length, that can be easily calculated. All one needs to know is the length of 1 single complete wind around the winder/holder. And then simply keep count of the number of rounds one is winding !!!

Check out Carollyn's superb tip here, when using 2 colours together ....

My sincere thanks to Susan for this simple, yet practical & effective idea, & for allowing me to share it here.

II. Quick & Handy Yarn Stash Samplers
Inspiration : Lucy (Attic 24)

Since I’m talking about threads, organization & winding, here’s another quick tip I’d like to share.
I first came across it here. Since I do not have the wooden clothes pegs she uses, I took the first thing that came to hand : index cards from days of yore !

Simply Cut & Folded them into strips.
Wound samples of wool around part of it.
Hid the starting end as I began winding ; hid the tail end by pulling/pushing through the center of the folded paper.
Wrote the amount of thread I had on top (I did not mention the weight coz do not require it).
Wrote some additional details such as brand, dye & lot details wherever necessary, within the fold. One can write any and all details wherever & as one wishes…. This was not part of my current requirement, hence I limited the details to suit my current project.
My intention in doing this is very simply to track all the possible ‘scrap’ colours so that I can decide the combos as well as sequence when I crochet the diamonds/squares.
And it has worked very well !!! I do not have to keep rummaging through the whole big carton of wool to find combinations ; simply choose from the strips & then pick out the ball.
TIP : Another level of organization : The balls are sorted according to main colour & kept in transparent bags inside the carton. eg. all blue shades in one, all purple shades in another, all brown shades in a third, & so on.

The immediate reason for this organization is the Floral Fiesta Afghan designed by Maggie Weldon I have started for this winter, the reason I needed to see the yarns & shades I wanted to use & their approximate quantity. More about the project in future .

I thank & highly recommend Lucy's blog Attic 24 for the sheer magic & inspiration of her colour palette artistry ! Lots to learn, too.

III. From Hanks to Skeins !

In keeping with this “thread”, here is my answer to a query Deepa left in this post on how to convert hanks into balls :“Now I am wondering how to convert a hank to small skeins, as in embroidery threads. There must be some way to wind them in that manner as anchor or DMC does.”

All you need :
Hanks of embroidery thread
Cardboard (6.5 inches across)
Paper strips/tags
Glue & scissors
Pearl-headed Pins for 2nd technique.

An Anchor Embroidery skein is 8m long with about 24 ½ complete rounds, where the diameter (or length from end to end) is 6.5’ or 16.5”.
[ (6.5’ x 2) x 24.5 rounds ] = almost 8m

1. Using Cardboard :

The lid of a tea bag carton is the exact length one wants (6.5 inches) as can be seen in the pic.
Wind around (I used wool so that each round is easily visible); trying to keep each round adjacent rather than jumbled up. After 24 ½ rounds, cut thread. Make sure to keep the finishing tail end visible, towards the outer side, so that one can tug at it easily. The starting end is neatly hidden in the depths.
If thread details are required, add a paper tag around the newly wound skein.

2. Using Headed Pins :

Pearl-headed pins are used, spaced at 6.5’, around which the thread is wound. Use at least 2 pins at each end for stability.
To start off, make a small open knot & hold it with a pin, otherwise this end will keep flopping about & one will not get a tightly wound skein.
The slip of white paper is for the tag, with details written on the side that is hidden from view. When the 24.5 rounds are complete, glue the tag paper around the skein, like a hollow cylinder, & carefully remove the pins on either side. Voila !
It is easier to tag when using pins, obviously.
You can wind it in the form of ‘8’, but I would suggest against it – it will be a bit difficult to pull out the thread when needed later.

I hope this is of some help, Deepa ? For some lovely embroidery & related tutorials, check out  her blog “This and random thoughts” for some lovely embroidery & tutorials.

Have a great day :-)

Related Post : Winding Shuttles CTM


  1. Great tips on winding and organizing thread. For CTM, after winding shuttle one, I continue winding the thread on the outside of the shuttle, approximately the same number of rotations as it took to fill shuttle one, cut and wind shuttle two. Try it and see if you like it.

    1. I think that is a Very Practical tip, mb ! Ideal for clover shuttles. With the added advantage that one does not need to lug around any extra ‘holder’!!
      Just one question, though – does it work with bobbin winding? I wind by hand & have never been able to count the number of winds, cause at times I kind of roll the bobbin between my fingers, or more importantly, I have to insert it back into the shuttle to suspend & untwist, thus losing count.
      Will definitely give it a go, though, & let you know :-)

    2. I've tried winding thread on the outside of the shuttle. It didn't work so well for me because the thread started spilling off the ends of the shuttle. But obviously it works well for Jon Yusoff and mb duke! :-)

    3. mb & Grace, it worked !
      I tried winding over all the different types of shuttles I have & the winding held. Except for one steel shuttle where the bobbin protrudes a tad more than required (this is my last-ditch shuttle anyways).
      I still have to measure/calculate how much length is required for one bobbin, but it does work.
      I think I still prefer my spec case, though, because it is easier to keep count of the fewer winds, and I always Have to have it beside me anyways.

  2. Thank you , Muskaan, these are great TIPS; I'll make these color samples (but when?) Thank you for sharing!

    1. Tally, it took me an hour to get those samplers ready ;-) And that is when I had no intention of sharing a pic when I started out, hence the abominable handwriting, etc. But it was an hour well-spent, coz now I am reaping its fruit. Simply choose combos, then pull out carton & pick out the 2-3 pairs of balls for the next 2-3 motifs; no rummaging, no thinking, thinking, thinking,… deciding,….then regretting decision after bringing them into the work basket ;-))

  3. Great tips! I especially like the first one, because I have been using my lap (or a yoga mat for large projects) to hold the unwound thread. By winding it onto something else first, I won't have to worry about my pet rabbit running through and messing up my lines of thread :)

    1. Precisely, Robin ! That way of winding the 2nd shuttle was always a bit ‘ooof’ for me ; not any longer, thanks to Susan ;-)
      But the image of your cute rabbit frolicking around your thread, is so sweet ;-D

  4. yayyy!! you are a genius!! I am going to try these methods and will let you know the consequences :)

    1. Hahaha, not at all ! But I do love to find solutions – from around the home – as best I can.

      Deepa, I recently found out that for winding HDT into hanks there is some tool called the noddy or something similar & it can be assembled at home.

      I remember my mom sometimes winding loose strings/thread/wool around her thumb & pinky, in the form of ‘8’, on the palm side.