Andrea Mielke Schroer is a three time Spinzilla team host. Here are her best tips for surviving Spinzilla. This post originally appeared in 2014.
Last year my bobbins were empty, my wheels tuned and oiled, and I had several pounds of fiber on hand. I was ready, right? WRONG. Some of these tips are no-brainers for folks who are naturally gifted with foresight and advance planning skills. Embarrassingly, I learned them only by experience.
Have PLENTY of fiber on hand
I had several pounds of fiber on hand just for Spinzilla. I had never spun that many pounds in one week before, but anyone with basic mathematic skills would have been able to determine that I did not have enough fiber. If I can fill 2 four-ounce bobbins in a morning, and spin for 7 days that alone would use 3.5 lbs!
PREP your fiber for how you plan to spin!
I ran out of the fiber I had set aside, and started digging deeper into my stash. However, I wanted to spin woolen, and not all the fiber I own is ideal for that. I ended up spinning some worsted yarns, just because that was the fiber I had on hand.
One of the braids I pulled out of my stash was intended to be spun fractally, and I wish I would have stripped and planned the sequence before Spinzilla started—it was precious spinning time wasted on what should have been done ahead of time.
Have fiber you KNOW and LIKE.
I thought I would treat myself and try some fibers and painted rovings that were new to me during Spinzilla. You know, to keep things interesting. I found some new favorites, but also some that I did not care for. In retrospect, I wish I would have experimented with new-to-me fiber before Spinzilla, not during it. I would have preferred to have a line-up of only fibers I knew I liked to spin, instead of cursing each ounce of a fiber I did not like, but “had to spin” because I was running out of prepped fiber.
Have all your bobbins empty.
I had all but two or three bobbins empty, and thought that was plenty—that gave me over 15 bobbins, after all! Partway through the week, I regretted my decision. I needed more empty bobbins, so I had to spend time winding off full bobbins. Time I could have been spinning!
Have self-serve food on hand.
I wish I would have stocked up on more food that the family could feed themselves. As much as I like cooking, spending time on it during Spinzilla became frustrating. I was in the spinning zone and I didn’t want to stop just because people were hungry. C’mon, people. I have one more ounce to go to fill this bobbin. Go eat some cereal!
Work up to Spinzilla slowly.
If you don’t already spin on a daily basis, work up to Spinzilla by getting in a little spinning time every day. Start with small sessions and work your way up gradually. It also helps to do some warm up exercises before each spinning session to get the blood flowing to all the muscles before you start.
Prepare a plan of attack.
I wish I would have made a general timeline for each day of Spinzilla. Such as what fiber I would spin, where I would be spinning, and what I would listen to—audio books/podcasts/dvds—to entertain myself, but not distract from my spinning. I could have done more ahead of time to have my podcasts downloaded and lined up, spindles and fibers bagged up for taking to appointments, and activities scheduled for the purpose of distracting my family from the fact that I was pretty much ignoring them for a week.
Care for yourself during Spinzilla, so you don’t burn out mid-week
Take frequent breaks. As tempting as it may be, do not spin for eight hours straight. If you are prone to zoning out and losing track of time, set a timer to remind yourself to get up every half hour and walk around and do some stretching/warm up exercises again.
Drink lots of water. Your body is 80% water. Keep it replenished, and your body will be better able to keep fresh. Drink some water during each break and it will ensure that you have to take more breaks to visit the restroom.
Switch it up. If you have more than one spinning wheel, plan to switch it up every day. Move around, spin in different rooms or areas. I like to follow the sun around the house, and I think the warmth of spinning in the sun keeps my muscles warm and happy. If you always treadle with your right foot, try treadling with your left foot for 30 minutes, then with both feet for 30 minutes. Varying which muscles you use will give you more spinning time.
Here’s to an even bigger and better Spinzilla in 2014!
Andrea Mielke Schroer lives with her family in Central Wisconsin. As co-owner of Mielke’s Fiber Arts, LLC with her sister, Amy, she has over 15 years of experience in teaching fiber arts across the nation. She has written for Spin-Off and PLYmagazines.