This past weekend, I upgraded my Lazy Kate.
For those of you who aren’t Spinners, a Lazy Kate is used in plying yarn. It holds the bobbin or bobbins so you can ply singles easily. My first Lazy Kate was a simple rig comprised of two long size US 6 knitting needles, two rubber bands, and my spinning basket. I carefully pushed each needle through the basket on one side, the bobbin, then through the basket on the other side. Usually, I plied my yarns without any tension on the bobbins. For spindle plying, that worked pretty well.
Plying with my Minispinner was a whole ‘nother story. The first 100 grams of yarn I plied, straight-up Romney spun thick for a double-ply chunky yarn, was a bit of a nightmare. I had to stop to untangle the singles often. Without any tension on the bobbins, they spun on their knitting needle spindles far too freely. I couldn’t keep up and ended up with backspin. Often.
I toyed with the idea of just using rubber bands to provide tension but threw that idea out quickly. The handles on my spinning basket got in the way when I plied with more than one bobbin, and my overall design wasn’t all that elegant. I looked online for ideas, plans, and potentially store-bought Lazy Kates. There are a lot of really good designs out there. Some of them are elegant and beautiful. Others are clean and practical. A few were quite spendy, but honestly my favorites tended toward the lower price range. The key problem I had was I’m just too impatient to wait for shipping and handling. I wanted to ply now. Not next week or in a few days. Now.
So, I sent a few links to my man on Friday night. We bounced a some ideas around and settled on a workable approach. On Saturday, we went to the local hardware store and bought supplies, including a Die and Die Stock, for $20, about a third of what I would have paid if I’d have ordered my favorite online. After a quick lunch, we went out to The Shop to construct.
Truth be told, my man did most of the construction. The Shop is his domain. Plus, he knew what he was doing and where he’d stored the various tools we needed. After about an hour’s worth of work, he’d cranked out my new Lazy Kate. I spent maybe 20 minutes making the tensioning lines, including the time it took me to dig through my closet in search of the line and swivels I wanted to use. It was a fun, easy project. Since most of the projects I design or request from The Shop usually involve at least an afternoon of construction time and often both new tools and at least one piece of hardware or wood that’s somehow near impossible to find locally, I was exceedingly pleased with the turn-around and price of this one.
My new Lazy Kate is compact and easily portable. It comes apart, and I can store it in a gallon-sized plastic bag although I’m stitching a fancy 12-inch drawstring bag this week that’ll make it feel even more luxurious. I even got to finally use the old Altoids Raspberry Lozenge tin I’ve been saving in my sewing desk for the last 8 years absolutely certain that I had some use for it even though I couldn’t think of what. It turns out it’s the perfect size for the tensioning lines, an extra length of line just in case one breaks, and the smallest peg for the tensioning system.
Do I plan to ditch my old DIY Lazy Kate?
No, actually, I do not. I love my new system, but the old system is still terrific for spindle plying, plus it’s even lighter-weight and more compact than my new Lazy Kate. If you’re in a bind or want a plying system that’s totally 30-second easy, a set of knitting needles and a basket will do the job. Watch the short video at the end of this post to see how.
Plans for a Portable DIY Lazy Kate
They’re coming. I’ll be posting the project details including tools, materials, and how-to steps for making your own Portable Tensioning Lazy Kate. Watch for them right around Labor Day weekend at the tail-end of August or very early in September.
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