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Combo Spin Tutorial - Part One

Last month we put out an Instagram poll asking what you would like to see for our first spinning tutorial. You overwhelmingly picked a combo spin, and LeAndra took a deep breath and dived right in to make this educational and vibrant spin a reality. Though there were a few surprises along the way & we weren't sure about the results at a few points, this actually turned out to be a really cool project and we're glad that you challenged us to bring it to life!
We had to split this into two parts, and they will both be pretty image heavy posts, but it was important to us to make sure that the process was clear and easy to understand. Strap yourself in, and let's get down to combo spinning!

The true beauty of combo spinning is the fact that it is such a versatile technique and a great way to use up odds and ends and bits and pieces that you might not have another use for. For my combo spin, I used five braids and most of them weren't particularly my taste. None of them match, but they all have some similarities with one or more of the other braids to help them work together color-wise, which was my focus. For simplicity's sake, each colorway has been labeled with a letter so you can see how they separate out and play together as I progress through the project. My final spin included A- Sea Anemone, B- Nirvana, C- Raindrops, D- Hello Gorgeous and E- Love Potion.

 

 

The first step to executing a balanced combo spin is to split each of your braids into individual pieces. I find that eight pieces works well, and that's what I did for this project. The simplest method is to halve the braid, halve each of those pieces to create fourths and then halve the fourths to create the final eight lengths of fiber. I arranged each of these pieces "hamburger style" and then split each eighth into thirds vertically to create thinner strips of fiber to work with.

 

 

 

This left me with 24 pieces of fiber from each of the five braids I was working with as you can see in this photo or a total of 120 pieces. (At this stage, you can start to see a bit more cohesiveness in the pairing, though I was still a bit skeptical about how the colors would come together!) To keep the math easy, I decided to create 20 bundles of six pieces each. I find it easiest to create a pattern to keep the mix even throughout the final spin. Using the letters designated to each colorway, I created new bundles by arranging fiber pieces in the following patterns: AABCDE, ABBCDE, ABCCDE, ABCDDE and ABCDEE. I repeated that process three more times until I had 20 balanced bundles.

 

 

The finished bundles were each approximately one ounce. I prefer to do a 3-ply yarn which works great with one-third of the yarn on one bobbin and two-thirds on the other. We'll cover that when we get into the actual spin in the next blog post, but for organizational purposes, 13 bundles were designated for the main bobbin and seven were set aside for the smaller bobbin.

 

 

 

Finally, I opened up each bundle again and split each of the six pieces into thirds vertically again to give me nice, thin pieces to begin my spin. And, that's it! I'm all ready to break out my spinning wheel. Each of my braids are split out, mixed back together in a balanced and cohesive way and ready to work their magic in a combo spin.

 

 

Stay tuned for the rest of the tutorial, complete with my best tips as well as how to avoid some common pitfalls in combo spinning. I'll be showcasing the yarn as well as the finished project all knit up.

 

Have you ever completed a combo spin? What's your favorite way to use this technique? What surprised you the most about combo spinning?

Rosa Zerkle

Comments

Rosa Zerkle

I just want to check to see if I understand correctly. You split the braids in half horizontally, then in quarters the same way, then in eighths. Only then did you split them vertically into thirds.
I need clarification because I usually split braids vertically.

Rosa Zerkle

Very well explained and great visuals! I can’t wait to see part 2, to see it spun and plied. I’m a fairly new spinner and saving this for future reference. Thanks for the great info!!

Rosa Zerkle

I am new to spinning, so combo spin is foreign but I did learn a lot. Going to reread it and take notes.

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