On Monday, Lee Fay asked a question that I thought was deserving of its own post:
Could you please tell us more about your tensioned home made lazy kate? I'm very intrigued.
Lazy Kate's are simple devices that are used to ply yarns off of bobbins. The tensioning of the Kate controls how the bobbins rotate. It's very simple to make your own Lazy Kate for plying.
First of all, you need a box. It can be a shoebox or a small corrugated cardboard box. The only thing that is important is that it be wide and tall enough to accomodate a bobbin. I also like mine to be long enough so that it can hold three bobbins, and can thus support a three ply.
I then take three inexpensive metal knitting needles. These needles need to be long enough to go all the way through the box. They also need to be narrow enough that they can slip through the center of the bobbin, so that the bobbin can be suspended in the box and the bobbins can rotate freely on the needle axle.
To create the tension band (a length of Lion Brand WoolEase) and thread it through two holes that you punch in lower corners of the short sides of the box (you can see where the blue yarn goes in the top picture). This yarn is drawn over the tops of the bobbins and fits in the grooves in the bobbins. In order to maintain the tension, I pulled one of the ends under the box and used a small binder clip to hold the ends of the yarn together so that the yarn remains taut over the three bobbins.
The final important element is something that will prevent the bobbins from moving back and forth on the needles. To do that, I used some random pieces of folded cardboard and cut a groove in the center that would go around the needle and could be folded so that they prevented the bobbins from moving away from the tensioining line.
So there you have it: a homemade tensioned Lazy Kate from spare junk around your house. Even if you had to buy the needles out right, it still would probably cost you 10 dollars or less. And the nice thing about this style of kate is that you can have as many bobbins as you want, assuming you can find enough needles and a large enough box. But it's also not a precious treasure, so if you don't want to keep it around, you can store or discard most of the parts easily. For these big WooLee Winder bobbins, it works much better than the Lazy Kate that comes with the Lendrum wheel, where the axles point straight up into the air and the bobbins are on a vertical axis instead of a horizontal one.