As spinners, we are always trying new things. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to duplicate a desired result, or avoid repeating a mistake? Keeping a spinning journal is helpful to both technical and non-technical spinners. As a non-technical spinner myself, I avoided keeping a spinning journal for as long as I could. It seemed too much like homework to me. Then I began having requests for yarn “just like I bought last year“. This led to the inevitable, keeping track of what I was spinning, and the methods I was using to create different yarns.
To maintain a spinning journal, keep your blank journal materials near your spinning wheel. That way, you can add notes as you go. Index cards, greeting card envelopes or cardstock make an ideal journal card. Journal cards can be easily kept in a photo storage box, then only the card you need can be removed and taken to the spinning wheel when needed. This method also allows you to add a good strong lavender sachet to the box to ward of moths. Just remember to change the sachet about once a year to protect all of your hard work.
The journal card should contain certain information to aid in re-creating the yarn. A sample of the raw fiber or roving, a sample of the finished yarn can be stapled to the card, or placed in a small bag and attached to the card. Using the extra envelopes from greeting cards makes an ideal way to store samples and keep everything organized. On the journal card, note the fiber type, blend content, where it was purchased, animals name (if known), pre-spinning preparation, dye recipe, and also the date. Also include the wheel that was used even if you only have one wheel, they do have a habit of multiplying. The drafting method, and drive ratio are also essential in being able to re-create yarn. Be sure to include how the yarn was finished as well. On the top corner try using a quick ranking method so you will know at a glance if this is a yarn you want to make again. Smiley or frowning faces work well for this.
In addition to the basics, be sure to add notes about how you intend to use the yarn, a photo of the finished project can also be a great help. The journal can also be expanded to include dye recipes, knitting or weaving patterns, felt methods, and any other fiber related stuff.
Once you get in the habit of keeping a spinning journal, you may also find that journaling is helpful in other aspects of your life. I have finally begun to write down recipes as I cook and keep track of my garden. Using the card method lets me discard anything that doesn’t quite work out.