Lazykate Blog

Navajo v Trational Plying

Which Ply & When?

Navajo or chain plying is a really useful tool to have in your spinning kit. It might seem a little complicated at first but with some practice and patience (isn’t that always the case?) you’ll find you’re getting into the swing of things.

Navajo or chain plying is plying from one bobbin, different obviously from traditional plying which requires two bobbins on a lazykate and a clear bobbin on your wheel. With your single yarn you create a loop, attach it to your leader and chain your single to create a three ply yarn. If you are a crocheter, you will already be familiar with the chain technique.

Why is it worth learning?

When you’ve been spinning for a while, you’ll find with the best of intentions you end up with leftover singles on your bobbins. Unless you intend to have hundreds of bobbins, you’re going to want to find a way of using that yarn up. Navajo plying will help with that, you can collect small amounts of plied yarns to use up as edgings in your weaving, or in scrappy blankets, as accents in your sock knitting, in toes and heels.

Another really useful way to use this technique is in maintaining defined colour stripes in your work, whether that be weaving or knitting.

Long strips of hand dyed fibre are everywhere at yarn festivals and it’s something we love to dye too. Sometimes there will be large blocks of colour, sometimes small ones and you might like just to spin away without thought – nothing wrong with that but what if you want to keep those colours true without any blending?

If you separate your fibre into thin strips and spin each one from top to bottom, trying to maintain your drafting and then use Navajo plying this will definitely help you to do that.

Navajo Plying v Traditional Plying

Experiment 1 – Singles spun and Navajo plied

I decided to try three different techniques with one strip of hand dyed fibre. I dyed the fibre with large colour bands so that I could get quite a bit of spinning done in one colour before there was a change.

With my first bobbin I spun a single that was around 24wpi with an aim to get a 4plyish yarn at the end. Because of the nature of Navajo plying, the chain will produce a three ply yarn so that would be something to take into account when you begin to spin and how much meterage you need for your single. As this was only an experiment I didn’t overly plan

I plied my singles using the technique, taking care that when the colour changes happened, I chained quite small to keep the colours seperate. While the colours were solid I did large chains. I then knitted a square with the yarn which looked like this

Experiment 2 – Traditionally plied in strips

For the next square I took my fibre and divided the strips in the same way as I did with experiment 1, but this time I spun each strip on a separate bobbin. I took care to spin with the colours the same way round so each bobbin would ideally look the same.

I spun in the same way, aiming for a 4ply plied yarn. As I’m only human though, my drafting wasn’t always exactly perfect and I will insist on watching the TV while spinning so can easily get distracted. As a result, the plied yarn didn’t match up exactly and the knitted swatch looked like this

The blocks of colour are there but there is heathering where the colours are mismatched, known as barberpoling. I don’t dislike this, I think it looks quite nice

Experiment 3 – spinning any which way

So for my last swatch I spun however the fibre came to me, there were bits where the fibre hadn’t split off perfectly, some I spun in a strip one way, some in the other way. I spun two separate bobbins and plied them together. The resulting swatch looked like this.


Spinning is all about choices and knowing different having plying options gives us just that. The three swatches side by side show just how different those plying methods make the yarn. None are wrong, but you might like to use them in different ways.

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Worsted Spinning-week 2 of Spin Club

We decided to focus on worsted spinning this week at Spin Club. Its my go to style of spinning and it was great to have the opportunity to delve into it a little bit more.

As is always the case, many different spinners will have their take on what is the definitive description of a technique. On my spinning workshops I teach worsted spinning to the beginners because I think its the easiest place to start.

Worsted spinning is a combed preparation of fibres so that they are all aligned in the same direction. This means that there is less air in the fibre making it hard wearing with a good stitch definition if you knit it or sheen if you’re weaving.

The technique is called short draw drafting and I’ve seen it referred to as inchworm drafting too. You take your fibre between your hands and draft a small amount of fibre apart, not allowing the twist to run into the main body of fibre. You then slide your pinched fingers over that twist.

Some writers feel strongly that true worsted or woollen spinning can only come from prepared fibre and not mill prepared top. I think thats probably true in the strictest sense of the word but I would still call short draw drafting with top worsted spinning.

There are some great resources if you want to research all about it and you can decide what you believe to be true. Whatever is right for you, whatever works for you is right in my book

Mabel Ross’s book The Essentials of Yarn Design is a wonderful read and for such a little book has so much information.

The Spinners Book of Yarn Designs by Sarah Anderson, a great resource

The worsted edition of Ply magazine, this issue is from 2014 but you might be able to pick one up as a back issue

Suggested by Kate, Spinning Bear, The Spinner’s Book of fleece by Beth Smith is a good recommendation which I don’t have but will need to aquire immediately.

Happy worsted spinning everyone. Next week we will be looking at woollen spinning and preparations so I hope you can join us live, or catch up on igtv

Speak soon

Follow me at Lazykate_textiles on Instagram

and Heather at Inquisitive Weaver

Lazykate Blog

Spin Club Win! (we think)

Thank you to everyone that joined us for the first Weaverbirds Spin Club. We were ridiculously nervous but a couple of minutes in and it was fine, the time flew.

It’s interesting to hear other’s experience of spinning, how they spin their fibre and the wheels they prefer. Shared experience while we can’t be together is great on Instagram and hopefully it won’t be too long before we can spin with others in person.

In the meantime, I’ve been making a couple of spinning videos for beginners, just a few minutes long to explain the very basics and making plans for more spinning workshops both recorded and on zoom.

This week we’ll be talking about worsted spinning at Spin Club, it’ll be great if you could join us. If you have any questions you’d like to ask please let us know and we’ll do our best to answer

See you there

Lazykate Blog

Weaverbirds Spin Club

You are cordially invited to join Heather and I for an hour of spinning each Sunday at 3pm

3pm – early enough for you to grab an hour to yourself and late enough to have a little something to celebrate the day! Could be a little glass of white or a large velvety hit chocolate with all the trimmings!

We’re meeting on Instagram live and we’d love it if you’d join us. Feel free to message any questions or hello’s.

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Ways to spin an even yarn part 1 – Cross lacing

What’s the issue?

One of our aims as new spinners is to be able to spin super fine yarn. We berate ourselves because our yarn is thick and chunky. Once it is thinner, it’s over spun or has little piglet tails. We’ve reduced our tension. How can we stop this happening?

There are a few ways that we can stop our yarn running away with us once we’ve been able to master our drafting technique. Cross lacing is one method.

I first came across cross lacing on the instagram page of the technically brilliant Bren Boone of Snerbyarn. Her spinning is so consistant and beautiful and she credits cross lacing as one of her methods. Here’s a little video which explains how it works

Thin, fine yarn requires much more twist than thicker yarn. This is why when you are a beginner spinner and your brain is overwhelmed with all the things you have to remember -drafting, (and I mean at all – never mind drafting evenly) treadling without sliding the wheel across the floor or allow it to spin the opposite way etc etc, you will find your thick yarn overspinning again and again.

This is one of the reasons why once we can spin thinly we tend to stick with it. Thin yarn requires more twist and therefore is more forgiving. There is more time for us to treadle away, allowing twist into our yarn while we watch the telly before it becomes horribly overspun. But sometimes we might like to spin a super thin lace yarn and our wheel just seems to run away with us. That’s where cross lacing comes in.

What is cross lacing?

Cross lacing can stop there being so much draw in, slowing the wheel down and allowing all the twist that we need without over twisting.

You do this by tracing your single across the bobbin hooks, from one side to the other. Or if you have a slider style flyer wrap your single over the metal rods of the flyer.

Have a go of this simple method and see if it makes a difference, I noticed an improvement immediately and I hope it helps you too.

Lazykate Blog

Thoughts for the New Year

How did we get to 2021 so quickly? It’s a complete mystery and yet here we are. So what’s new for Lazykate in the year ahead?

When I first thought of having a textile business more than 20 years ago, my aim was to grow natural dyes, spin and sell my yarn. Such a labour intensive process would not have been sustainable at that time, the internet was very much in it’s infancy and I had to contribute to our family with my part time job in a bank.

So buying in fibre and dyeing with acid dyes was the way forward for me to be able to make steps in my dream of my own business. I started with dyeing fibre for other spinners along with patterns designed by my mum and things grew slowly from there. This was the Eliza Scarf kit, the first kit I ever sold through etsy in 2008.

Lockdown has given us all a chance to think and maybe use the opportunity to make changes or rethink how we operate and although we can’t completely change hour working practises we can certainly start with tiny steps to achieve a change in the long run.

So this year, we will be making steps to reduce our packaging and to move further with our greener choices, resusing and recycling where we can and encouraging our workshop attendees (in person and online) to use materials they have.

With that aim, we are expanding our online and inperson courses, teaching people to weave, weave yarn and cotton, create new patterns in our pick up stick workshops, dye their own yarn and spin locally sourced fibre. That’s the plan, covid19 permitting and we’re pretty excited about it.

We realise that there is a long way to go and our steps are indeed tiny but Rome was not built in a day and hopefully when we look back in a year we will see how far we have come.


Which Loom & Why

One of the questions I’m asked regularly and also see popping up on Weaving Facebook Groups is which loom is the best to use.

We use both Kromski and Ashford Rigid Heddle looms in our workshops. The Ashford looms were bought as I started off teaching and I’ve always been very happy with Ashford products (we use their Traditional spinning wheels in our Beginners Spinning Classes).

Because we were asked all the time for looms on our Weaving workshops, it made sense to have some at the classes with us and Kromski was the company that we chose to work with.

All rigid heddle looms work in the same way so it comes purely down to your preference, what you want to make and your budget. Sadly, we’re not able to attend yarn shows at the moment which are the ideal places to try out new looms so I’ll give you a few pointers as to what I’ve found make the different to new weavers. Im purely working on Ashford v Kromski for this blog’s purposes.

  • Budget – Kromski are around about £30ish more than Ashford looms. The ratchet and pawl in the Kromski are made of metal whereas they are plastic in the Ashford. The Kromski is a slightly larger loom and the wood is a little bit thicker.

2. Storage – The Kromski Harp Forte loom folds up even with your weaving on it so if you like to take your weaving wherever you go, in your caravan etc, it’s a great little feature. The Ashford Rigid Heddle doesn’t do this, but the Ashford Knitters Loom folds up so that’s also a good option if taking your loom with you is a feature

3. Ease of use Both looms are warped up in a similar way but with one main difference. The Ashford has a warp stick attached to the loom and the Kromski’s warp stick is moveable. There is a small piece of wood called the helper included in the Kromski kit which enables the warp stick to be positioned in place while you warp up.

For warping quickly, the Ashford system is more stable and easier to use. Quite often we will warp up the Ashfords first. If you like to use painted warps or create a long warp using a warping frame, then the Kromski is a great option and gives you more choice in the things you can create.

4 Warping Frame included The Kromski Harp Forte has a warping frame included in the loom. All attachments will come with your loom when it is delivered. Direct warping is brilliant and the easiest way to warp up quickly. If you want to weave more than one item or have a particularly long project to weave, you would probaby consider indrect warping. Ashford have warping frames to purchase which you would attach to your wall. I have one of these but also, if I have a longer warp to make and I’m in the boat, the warping frame on the back of the loom is great.

Sooooo, in my little miusings here I’m not 100% sure I’ve helped. I’ve tried to be complerely honest with my feelings about both looms. I really do thing both are great companies with brilliant products. Having worked with both, I would chose the Kromski, it’s a solid workhorse of a loom, is beautifully made and gives me all the options I need for my weaving.

I hope that helps. If you have any questions, by all means message me. At the time of writing, we are not able to have people over to the shed due to the virus but as soon as we can, people are welcome to come and try the looms out or if you attend a workshop and would like to use a particular loom, let us know and we can make sure we warp your choice.

Lazykate Blog

On the road again…

In the early part of the year, around February we moved from our rented house back onto our boat permanently. We had lived there previously in 2009 for three very chilly years on an end of garden mooring and I swore I would never live on it again.

But when an inspirational, very industrial mooring came up on the Liverpool docks last year we slowly drifted back on and it was a very different life than living on the canal. I felt like if we survived a winter and were warm enough then I would feel comfortable moving back.

Training Courses taking place around the yarn

Along with the mooring which was in a dock used for training people from all over the world who work on wind farms came a couple of containers to rent. One was a shipping container in which I did the dyeing of the yarn (now undertaken by Jessamy and Sofia) and the other a portacabin where all the weaving preparation and yarns are kept.

Inside the Collingwood Dock Portacabin

We thought these would be available until November this year after which we could make a decision whether or not to invest in our own container and keep it there at the dock. Then of course Covid happened and everything changed.

The training company decided to changed their way of operating and served all the boats with eviction notices and the containers were given until September to ship out. So on top of a rollercoaster year we now found ourselves having to find new premises and with nowhere near the income we had pre lockdown.

Friends of ours heard about what had happened and offered us a small section of their barn (actually, small to them was quite a size to us!). This would have been a usable space for the dyeing section of our operation but still left us with having to find storage for all the looms and wheels etc which we didn’t want to be affected by the weather, or damp.

While we were there they mentioned as an aside that we might want to look in the shed. The shed or Jack Shack blew us away. At 30ft x 12 ft it’s a brilliant size space. Already split in two it has an area for our looms and possibly workshops and a separate area for all our dye kit. It has electricity and access to water. To say it was perfect is an understatement. On top of that, we can do whatever we want to it in terms of decorating or putting up pictures or wall hangings.

Workroom to be
Dyeroom to be

Obviously there is a ton of work to do yet but we are so excited to get started and settle into our new home. It’ll be a place for the three of us to be able to work which is brilliant because we have a ton of ideas to start setting into plans. We’ll keep you updated with each step of the way.

In workshop news, our weaving workshops are back up and running which is fabulous and hopefully covid permitting will continue. Spinning workshops are in the pipeline and we will post dates as soon as we have them


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I’m so pleased to tell you that we are starting to run workshops again. As I have mentioned on my social media accounts, I really thought this might be the end for spinning and weaving workshops.

But there is good news. Jessamy my daughter and her friend Sofia have taken over both the dyeing arm of Lazykate and also the running of the weaving workshops. Jessamy has weaving and spinning in her blood, having been taught by me since childhood and Sofia is an artist with her own painting business so they have the chops!

We’ve all been working hard to create a new arrangement with input from the girls taking the dyeing in different directions, something which is very exciting for me. Fresh ideas are always welcome

So we have a new base range for our hand dyed yarns. These will stay throughout the season. Then we will add limited editions to go with these, keeping everything fresh and interesting.

The first workshops will take place at Eden Tearoom and Galleries in Newburgh, Lancashire a beautiful inspiring venue that we’re sure you’ll love. We will be observing social distancing rules to protect us all so we feel confident that we can all have a brilliant day and keep safe too.

If you’d like to come along we have two dates,

Saturday 5th September

Friday 2nd October.

If you’d like to come along, click here. You’ll receive an email confirming your place and asking for your choice of warp colours and we can go from there. Any questions, ask away!

Speak soon x

Lazykate Blog

Something changed

Well one night we went to sleep and the next day our world was completely different and I have to admit, I still can’t quite believe it.

Lazykate Textiles is mainly built around teaching and passing on skills that are very important to me so when we were not able to do that anymore, I closed the doors for while I tried to figure things out. Being a member of the high risk team, the thought that this might be it for me work wise was a little overwhelming, but actually also a bit of a sigh of relief. I had been closed to being burnt out for quite a while. I absolutely love teaching but I was tired and not too well.

Weaving Workshop at Ten Streets Market, Liverpool

So I stopped. Stopped with the lists and the pressure on myself to keep lots of plates spinning. Stopped worrying that everything was not good enough. I didnt realise how much I was struggling.

Once I stopped thought it was difficult to feel motivated, especially when essentially my method of working (teaching face to face) was over.

Eventually, as the weeks have gone on, despite minimal direction and focus, things are beginning to seem clearer. Sadly, the Dyer’s Palette Box Club had to come to an end. A mix of difficulty getting supplies and postage options made it untenable. Perhaps in the future it could be something to revisit, it certainly was enjoyable while it lasted. That was it then, no Box club, no teaching.

So Heather, the Inquisitive Weaver and I decided to start a podcast. Just a chat while in lockdown about the projects we are doing to help us pass the time and ones to inspire us in the future. It’s something neither of us has done before so it’s been a learning curve but give a pair of women an opportunity to talk about their textile projects and you might never shut them up!

So bear with me while I try to work out a new direction, give the podcast a whirl and maybe join our Weaverbirds groups on Facebook or Ravelry. We have a small but talented group of women (only women just now but men welcome of course) and hopefully a community will grow.

Speak soon