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Battle of the Bobbins!!! Wild Hare Fiber Studio v. Spin Artiste

by The SpinArtiste on November 24, 2013

A couple of months ago when I was just finishing up setting up the studio, Melissa Yoder Ricks of Wild Hare Fiber Studio contacted me and told me she was sending me something to spin.  I was not to open her package until I sent her a package of items.  I accepted the challenge.  A number of folks had said to me that they wanted to send me something unusual to spin and now it had finally come to pass.  

Now, Melissa is a REALLY good spinner.  In fact, she’s a great spinner.  What could I send her to match her level of talent?  And, as I so often do, I let the idea sit for a little bit.  I was busy getting settled in at the studio and finishing up writing The Journey to the Golden Fleece, so while I was actively working on those projects, in the back of my mind, I was running through possibilities for Melissa.

October came.  One day, I was buying Halloween candy and I knew what to send to her.  Let’s see how she made out.

In Melissa’s own words:

“I’ve followed the ‘Can you Spin This’ challenge since its inception, so when Arlene kept suggesting I volunteer to participate, I figured she had it in for me…  and I thought it would be fun to turn the tables a bit and put Arlene in the spotlight.  So I told her that I’d do it… if she would too, using something that I provide for HER to spin.  And so we agreed, and a trade of mysterious materials ensued.  And despite my careful planning and precautions, she did indeed ‘get me’!

Here are the materials she sent me to spin:


Your eyes do not deceive: she sent me apple rings, caramel apple candy corn, and strawberry licorice rope, all from what I’m sure was a sweet little candy shop in some small Pennsylvania town.   I also sent Arlene three items, but a more hodge-podge assortment:  A strange mauve knit poncho with rabbit hair trim from the flea market, some broken ponytail elastics (a dollar store fail), and a marvelous roll of Justin Bieber duct tape from the clearance rack at Target.

Materials 2


Arlene will have to speak to her reasons for sending me edibles to spin, and also how she went about transforming the treasures I sent her into yarn.

As for me, there were multiple challenges involved in spinning the candy and apple rings.  First, I had to keep them secure and hidden from my children so that they did not get eaten!.  Second, I really wanted to make a yarn that would still be edible after it was spun, since licorice covered in fuzz just didn’t do it for me (regardless of how nice the fuzz!).

So… I decide to make a loopy boucle, and to add just one item to hold these edibles together as a yarn: multiple strands of sewing thread.  I wanted this thread to essentially disappear when you look at the yarn, and I also wanted it to leave no fuzz, and be easy to separate out so that the candy could still be eaten.  I first tried to make boucle loops with the dried apples by cutting them into spirals, but they were too delicate and easily cut by the thread, so I switched to making the loops with the licorice rope.


The apple rings and candy corn became flowers that were added to the yarn afterward.  It didn’t take much to fill my bobbin with licorice boucle… my finished yarn was only a few yards, but it worked!


The finished yarn survived long enough to take photos before I told my children that they could eat it. ”


AMAZING!!!  I should have had breakfast before I wrote this post…I love what she did.  

Good thing I didn’t see how her yarn came out before I made mine because I would have been totally intimidated. 

So, you’ve seen what I got.  Here’s what I ended up doing:

When I opened the package, Melissa’s note said to use two of the three items to make the yarn.  The poncho and duct tape were my first choices.  The black ties were not calling me at all.  So, in examining the poncho, I knew I wanted to cut/pull out the fur strips and incorporate those. 

As I was ripping up the poncho, I glanced over a that the elastic pieces and I thought, maybe there was a way…so I started just tying the ends together in simple knots to make a “ply” out of them.  I liked the result and did the same with the fur strips.  Now, I had this:


Since I had specifically asked Melissa to get me some of that duct tape, I had to get it into the yarn.  I pondered possibilities for the duct tape.  I considered cutting it and taping it onto shapes and making little flags that I could leave hanging off of the yarn.  It would be a humorous touch but I wanted the yarn to be pretty.  I liked the color palette and decided I wanted to emphasize that by making the tape a ply also.  To do that, I folded the tape in half over a strong thick commercial cone yarn and left long tails of yarn on both ends to make it easier to incorporate into the spinning:


I felt I was starting to get somewhere…where, I didn’t have a clue, but somewhere…something was still missing.  The poncho scraps were sitting by me and it occurred to me to chop them up into bits, card them with white mohair and a little bit of sparkle into a textured batt and spin a yarn:

Carded Batt

Now, it was time to spin.  First I core spun the batt:


And, then, I coiled it:


And, then it was time to pull everything together — somehow!  I had to be careful not to let the duct tape ply dominate so I actually used it as the core for the other plys.  It was a slow, painstaking process to get things to lay the way I wanted, but luckily, there wasn’t a lot of distance to travel.  In the end, I had this which I felt accomplished my objectives:


Done 1

Done Details


Done 3

Well, there you have it!  What are your thoughts on having the Battle of the Bobbins as a regular feature?  I really had a lot of fun with this and it definitely raises the stakes on Can You Spin This?  And, how about Melissa’s Loopy Boucle technique?  Should we ask her if she will tell us how she does that?

Be back in a few days with a Featured Artist interview that I think you will really like.  All my fibery best, Arlene

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