How to make a cheap, quick lazy kate

Several months ago I made myself a lazy kate for cheap in less than 5 minutes.  (For those of you reading this who don’t use a spinning wheel, a lazy kate is just a thing that holds bobbins while you ply two or more strands of yarn together.  Professionally made ones are hella expensive, which is weird because it’s not like they have any moving parts or anything.)  I thought I would share how to do it because I can’t be the only person who doesn’t care what a kate looks like so long as it’s not $100.)

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(Ignore the hole in the front.  I was experimenting when I made this.)

What you’ll need to buy:

  • A flat piece of wood.  I decided to be fancy and get one of those unfinished plaques the big-box craft store sells for woodburning.
  • A dowel that your bobbins will fit onto.  They have to be able to spin freely, but you want a dowel thick enough that it’s not going to snap easily.
  • Wood glue.

What you probably own already:

  • A drill and a drill bit the size of the dowel.
  • Some strong scissors or a sharp knife.  I actually used a small branch cutter my MIL had for yardwork, but anything you can use to cut up the dowel is fine.
  • Something to mark the wood with: pencil, ballpoint, crayon, the blood of your enemies, whatever.

That’s it.  If you have a drill and a cutting thing already, everything else is under $10 total.

Instructions:

1. Put your bobbins on the piece of wood to figure out where you want them to sit.  Mark where the shafts will go, plus two spots on either side for the tensioning pieces.

2. Drill holes on each mark, about 1/4″ deep. Each hole should be the same size as the dowel. Cut dowel pieces that are long enough to hold your bobbins plus a quarter inch, and two the small pieces (maybe 2″ tall, roughly).

3. Glue the pieces into the holes.

And you’re done! Takes less than 5 minutes. You can finish it with varnish or whatever if you want. I didn’t bother.  You can use any old piece of non-stretchy yarn for tensioning the bobbins.  I used some cotton yarn that was left over from a baby sweater I knit.

Oh, one more thing: if you don’t lubricate the bobbin holders, they will squeak.  But! The shaft of my flyer needs grease, so I just use that in the beginning.  (Actually, the maker suggested Vaseline would be fine for my flyer.)  And every time I put my bobbins on the kate, the shafts get a little more grease.  So they don’t squeak.  It doesn’t matter if the Vaseline is bad for the wood, because a new dowel costs a buck.

I’ve been using this kate for almost a year, and it’s wonderful.  You can play with it a bit, like gluing wooden balls (also found in the woodworking section of the craft store) to one side of the bottom so that it sits on an angle.  When I spin it’s usually on the couch or at a table, so I just set the kate next to me on the table or the arm of the couch.  It’s fine on the floor, though.  If you find that it’s too light for your bobbins and moves around, just put something a little heavy on it.  You can also buy small stick-on grip pads to put on the bottom of the kate if you want to use the kate on a slippery surface like a hardwood floor.  Whatever works for your spinning style and environment.

I hope this post as been at least mildly educational.  Happy spinning!

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